RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Panthers lost three players, including goalie Jose Theodore, during Saturday’s blowout 6-2 loss to the host Hurricanes and now turn to their minor league team in San Antonio for reinforcement.
Florida plays host to Carolina in Sunday’s rematch at 6 p.m. and at least two players — including probable starting goalie Jacob Markstrom — will catch early flights to try and help the Panthers stem the proverbial bleeding.
With Saturday’s loss, the Panthers slid six points back of the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes.
Coach Kevin Dineen and defenseman Brian Campbell refused to use the injuries as a reason for Saturday’s dreadful showing.
“It’s a great excuse for as bad as we started that game, as unprepared as we looked,” said Dineen, whose team also played the third without Stephen Weiss after he was ejected for fighting.
“You can blame it on injuries but that’s the ultimate cop out. It was a big game against the divisional leader and we could have reeled them in. We weren’t prepared from the drop of the puck. And that leads to injury. If you don’t have your game face, well, it’s a man’s game out there.”
The biggest loss came early when Theodore was helped off the ice after he appeared to re-injure his troublesome right knee. Theodore, playing a Jussi Jokinen slap shot 2:22 in, stayed face down on the ice in obvious pain.
Theodore, who missed parts of last season — including the playoffs — with a knee injury, didn’t put weight on his right leg as he left the ice. Theodore was seen walking without crutches but with a pronounced limp after the game.
Dineen said Theodore would be out for some time and that Markstrom would be headed to South Florida. Markstrom was held out of Saturday’s game in San Antonio as he is expected to start Sunday against Carolina.
Markstrom was 0-2 last month in giving up three goals to both Pittsburgh and Boston. Florida sent him back to San Antonio because it didn’t want to carry three goalies as it appeared Scott Clemmensen was out of his early-season rut.
With Theodore out for the foreseeable future, Markstrom is not considered a roster luxury anymore.
Clemmensen replaced Theodore and gave up goals on three consecutive shots in a three-minute span during the first — although Florida’s defense didn’t offer much help.
Clemmensen was quickly down 3-0 before Shawn Matthias scored to make it 3-1. But the Hurricanes added two more in the second and went into the third up 5-2. Clemmensen, who was pulled in the first period of Thursday’s shootout loss to the Sabres, made 27 saves.
After Theodore left the ice, the Panthers’ training room at PNC Arena filled up quick.
Florida also lost defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (wrist/hand) after he lost his footing and went down hard onto the ice and into the boards.
Scottie Upshall, playing in his first game since Jan. 31 because of an injured ankle, left with an undisclosed lower body injury. Jack Skille (upper) left but returned and played in the third period.
Defenseman Nolan Yonkman, 31, may take Kulikov’s spot on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter who is out there, you still have to play,” Campbell said. “You can’t control who is out and who is in. If you want to be a good team, you don’t use excuses.”
As far as forwards go, expect Mike Santorelli (scratched Saturday) and Kris Versteeg (chest injury) in on Sunday.
Winger GETS PAID
Assistant general manager Mike Santos said injured winger Sean Bergenheim would come off the suspended list on Monday after Bergenheim won his medical grievance over the Panthers on Friday.
Bergenheim is expected to meet with team doctors to determine the next course of action — which is believed to be sports hernia surgery which would cost him the remainder of the season. Santos would not confirm that.
Bergenheim, suspended since he was thought to be injured while playing in Finland during the lockout, will be paid his entire salary for this season going back to the lockout.