Aleksander Barkov injury update: Latest news on Panthers captain after taking high hit from Leon Draisaitl

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The Panthers went up 2-0 in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, securing a 4-1 win over the Oilers in Game 2

However, it may have come at the cost of their captain. 

Aleksander Barkov exited Monday night's contest in Sunrise, Fla., in the third period. He took a high hit from Oilers star Leon Draisaitl, resulting in his early dismissal. 

Barkov has been a key piece of Florida's success this year. The center earned the 2024 Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward, and he's been tasked with shutting down the opposition's top competition. So far in the Stanley Cup Final, Barkov and the Panthers have held Connor McDavid to just a single assist. Through 19 playoff games, Barkov has six goals and 19 points. 

Florida takes a 2-0 series lead north, as the series shifts to Edmonton for the next two games. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday. 

MORE: Why do Panthers fans throw rats on the ice?

Aleksander Barkov injury update

Barkov left Game 2 between the Panthers and Oilers with 9:28 remaining in the third period after taking a high hit from Draisaitl. 

With the Panthers captain maintaining possession of the puck along the boards, the Oilers star came barreling down to make contact. However, Draisaitl did not opt for a shoulder-to-shoulder check, instead launching himself high towards Barkov's head, connecting his elbow to Barkov's jaw. 

Barkov stayed down on the ice and was attended to by a trainer. He was eventually helped off the ice, but he went down the tunnel.

The officials reviewed the play and deemed it a two-minute minor penalty for roughing against Draisaitl. Evan Rodrigues scored his second goal of the game on the ensuing power play, putting the Panthers up 3-1 at the time. 

Barkov did not return to the game. The exact injury is not known at this point. Given where Draisaitl hit Barkov, it's possible he was evaluated for a concussion.  

How does the NHL concussion protocol work?

The NHL has implemented protocols in order to minimize head trauma in the league. Part of those regulations involves pulling a player from a game if it is deemed that he could have suffered a concussion. 

Part III of the NHL's concussion protocol involves the "mandatory removal of a player for an acute evaluation as soon as possible if a concussion is spotted." 

Here is what the concussion spotter is looking for and what results in the removal of a player. 

  • Lying motionless on the ice
  • Motor incoordination/balance problems
  • Blank or vacant look
  • Slow to get up
    • From a blow to the head or upper torso
    • After the head makes contact with the ice
    • After a player is punched in the head 

Once a spotter identifies one of the above as a possibility, then an evaluation with the club physician and/or athletic trainer takes place.

If the Club Physician verifies that the Player experienced loss of consciousness or ataxia from a direct or indirect blow to the head, this shall result in a diagnosis of concussion. If it is determined that the suspected loss of consciousness or ataxia did not result from a direct or indirect blow to the head, the reason(s) for such determination shall be recorded in the SCAT5 App.

It is during this evaluation that the player is either diagnosed with a concussion or clears protocol and that player can return to the game

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Bryan Murphy is an NHL content producer at The Sporting News.