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Barkov will play Game 3, Draisaitl says ‘We all know I’m not a player who plays with an intent to injure’

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Photo credit:© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The Florida Panthers will have their top centre in the lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Aleksander Barkov exited with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third period of Game 2 on Monday in Florida after taking a high hit from Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. He missed the team’s practice on Wednesday, but Panthers head coach Paul Maurice confirmed on Thursday morning that Barkov will play in Game 3.
Draisaitl was handed a two-minute roughing minor on the play but didn’t receive any supplemental discipline. He was asked about the hit following Edmonton’s morning sake on Thursday and said he isn’t the type to try to injure other players.
“We all know I’m not a player who plays with an intent to injure,” Draisaitl said. “I have no track record of that. I’m not a player who enjoys that part of the game. I caught [Barkov] in an unfortunate spot. I’ll leave it at that. I can’t stress it enough, I’m not someone who plays the game of hockey wanting to injure anyone”
Though he set a career-high with 76 penalty minutes in 2023-24, Draisaitl has never been suspended during his 10 seasons in the NHL. He’s been fined twice by the Department of Player Safety and has received votes for the Lady Byng Trophy four times.
Having Barkov in the lineup is significant for the Panthers. He scored 23 goals and 80 points during the regular season and was named the Selke Trophy winner as the league’s best defensive forward for the second time in his career. His 19 points in the playoffs are tied with Matthew Tkachuk for the team lead.
“He’s the leader of our group and it’s never easy when someone like that goes down, especially in that part of the game,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “It shows the character of him, how badly he wants to get back and not miss much else”
Through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Oilers have only managed to get one puck past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, a first-period goal in Game 2 from Mattias Ekholm.
With the series shifting back to Edmonton, the Panthers will no longer have the last change like they did in Florida in Games 1 and 2. That means it won’t be as easy for the team to send him out to defend against the Oilers’ top forwards.
Paul Maurice said that he doesn’t view that as a disadvantage, noting that Barkov is capable of playing a couple of different roles depending on whether the team is at home or on the road.
“At home, a lot of nights, he’s going to play against the McDavids of the world and the other really good players,” Maurice said. “And then on the road, we’ll look at him a little differently, more the offensive side of his game. There’s a give and take. We could lose the Selke-ness, but we’re also going to get a guy who can score a point per game.”

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