Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said top-line center Sasha Barkov is ready to play and is expected to return to the lineup for Monday’s rematch with the Lightning.
Barkov broke a bone in his hand while blocking a shot during Florida’s loss in Chicago on Oct. 22.
“He looks great, ready to go,” Gallant said Sunday afternoon. “Unless something happens Monday, he’ll be playing.”
With Barkov back, the Panthers will have a little different look in their second game against the Lightning in a span of three days. Gallant is expected to put his top line of Barkov, Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau back together Monday.
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Nick Bjugstad, who slid up to play on the top line, will go back to centering the second. Which player moves from center is in question, however, as Vincent Trocheck has been playing well but could go back to being a winger.
Florida will also have to sit an additional forward once Barkov is activated off the injured list.
Garrett Wilson sat out Saturday, and Shawn Thornton, who went after Tampa’s J.T. Brown after he leveled Dmitry Kulikov in the second period, could be an option to sit out.
Thornton and Brown had a few skirmishes in Florida’s 5-4 shootout win with both sent to the locker room in the third period after receiving game misconducts.
Saturday’s game was filled with little altercations as it’s apparent these two teams do not like each other a whole lot.
“They are a close rival,” Thornton said afterward.
▪ One player who won’t be in the lineup Monday is defenseman Dmitry Kulikov who apparently sustained a lower-body injury after being run into the side boards by Brown.
Gallant said Kulikov was getting an MRI and would probably miss at least a few games.
Moments after Kulikov ran Jonathan Drouin into the backboards, he was boarded by Brown and had a noticeable limp as he skated off the ice and didn’t return.
Steven Kampfer, who has played just one game this season, is expected to replace him Monday.
▪ Saturday’s win was Florida’s first in overtime this season as it improves to 1-3. The Panthers are 1-1 in shootouts. Brandon Pirri, who scored on a penalty shot in the second, netted the only goal of the shootout.
▪ Roberto Luongo is expected to be back in net after giving up four goals to the Lightning on Saturday.
Luongo joked about the second goal allowed in which his skate caught a rut in the ice as he was sliding into position, lost his footing and plopped on his backside just before Vladislav Namestnikov took a shot into what was now an empty net.
“It’s obviously easier to digest after a win,’’ Luongo said. “I thought the rivalry out there was between me and the puck.”
Monday: Lightning at Panthers
When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640 , WMNA 1210.
Series: Florida leads 59-49-10.
Scouting report: Florida won its first game in Tampa since the final game of the 2013 lockout-shortened season, snapping a four-game losing streak in Tampa. The Panthers were 1-1 against the Lightning in Sunrise last season.