Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov will not join the team for the start of its upcoming road trip, coach Paul Maurice said on Sunday.
There is potential for Barkov to catch up to the Panthers and join the team during the trip, Maurice said after practice, but he will miss at least the first two games.
Barkov, dealing with a non-COVID-19 illness, was a late scratch Saturday in Florida’s 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues. He missed another home loss to the Dallas Stars last week but played in the following three games. He missed practice Friday and Sunday with what Maurice said was due to residual effects from the illness.
Florida has struggled without him. On Saturday, Jordan Kyrou scored his second goal of the game at 1 minute, 8 seconds of overtime to give the Blues the comeback victory after the Panthers raced to a 3-0 lead.
Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas and Carter Verhaeghe scored for Florida in the first period, and Anton Lundell connected in the second. Spencer Knight stopped 32 shots, but it wasn’t enough for Florida to avoid suffering its fifth loss in seven games.
“You have to skate and you have to make plays. You can’t sit on anything,” Maurice said. “Maybe even to the 10-minute mark [of the third period] we were fine, then they made a push and we did not handle it well. … When it got to 4-2, you could feel us back off and not be confident or direct with the puck. You can’t play a tentative game.”
The Panthers’ trip will cover five games and begin with a date against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.
“The moment he feels ready, we’ll get him on the trip,” Maurice said of Barkov. “He has seen all the people he has needed to see and it is precautionary as well. We just don’t want to put him on an airplane where his illness is at right now.”
Barkov, 27, has five goals and 18 points in 19 games this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Panthers to start road trip without captain Barkov (illness)