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Panthers rally to beat Oilers and go up 2-0 in Stanley Cup Final. Now, they wait on Barkov news

The mood should be celebratory. And in some senses, it was. The Florida Panthers rallied to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Monday at Amerant Bank Arena to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

But now, for the next few days, the team will be bracing for news on star center Aleksander Barkov, who left the game with 9:28 left in regulation after taking a high hit from Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.

At that point, Florida was only up by one goal.

“I’m not holding him” if he can play, Panthers coach Paul Maurice said postgame.

Barkov never returned to the ice. Maurice didn’t have an immediate update on the star center’s status. Game 3 is Thursday in Edmonton.

But Maurice’s somber tone as he spoke throughout his press conference said everything that needed to be said. No timeline or specifics about the injury have been announced, but his status for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday in Edmonton, at minimum, appears to be jeopardy.

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) walks into the locker room after got injured in a play against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amerant Bank Arena on Monday, June 10, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla.
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) walks into the locker room after got injured in a play against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amerant Bank Arena on Monday, June 10, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla.

Maurice didn’t want to comment on the hit itself. Nor did Panthers players.

“This isn’t the Oprah Winfrey Show,” Maurice said. “My feelings don’t matter.”

Added forward Evan Rodrigues: “You never want to see your captain go down, but I thought everyone did a great job, focused in and got the job done.”

Rodrigues was key in making sure that happened Monday, scoring the go-ahead goal 3:11 into the third period and giving Florida a two-goal cushion by scoring on the power play that came as a result of the Barkov injury.

Rodrigues now has three goals through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

“It’s special,” Rodrigues said. “I’m trying to embrace it, trying to stay in the moment. It’s two big wins for our team and I think we’ve already turned the page and we’re getting ready for game three.”

Florida Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola (77) celebrates with teammates Vladimir Tarasenko (10) and Anton Lundell (15) after scoring a goal against Edmonton Oilers during the second period of Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amerant Bank Arena on Monday, June 10, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla.
Florida Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola (77) celebrates with teammates Vladimir Tarasenko (10) and Anton Lundell (15) after scoring a goal against Edmonton Oilers during the second period of Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amerant Bank Arena on Monday, June 10, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla.

Defenseman Niko Mikkola tied the game 9:34 into the second period with a snap shot from the high slot on a drop pass from center Anton Lundell. That capped a sequence that nearly saw Mikkola put the goal in his own net trying to make a cross-ice pass that instead wobbled toward goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

“Bobby was awake,” Mikkola said, “so that was good for us.”

Bobrovsky did the rest, stopping the final 18 shots he faced after giving up a goal on the first shot he faced — a dribbler from Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm 11:17 into the first period with the game at four-on-four. The biggest save of them all perhaps came with 5:53 left in regulation when he stopped McDavid on a breakaway.

This came after Bobrovsky posted a 32-save shutout in Game 1 on Saturday.

In Game 1, Bobrovsky had to come up with heroics time and again to will Florida to the win.

In Game 2, Florida’s defense tightened up and limited the Oilers from getting good looks for most of the night. The Oilers had just seven shots on goal through the first two periods and one shot on goal total in nearly five-and-a-half minutes on the power play.

“Playoff hockey is different,” Maurice said. “We talk about this in training camp, and it’s hard. The buy-in isn’t from the coach. It’s nothing I’ve done. It is the players’ willingness, so the running joke in the coaches’ office here is, ‘Be careful what you tell them to do because they’re going to do exactly that.’ We have worked very hard.”

Two wins down. Two to go.