SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) — Great news Cats fans, Florida Panthers’ forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have been cleared to return to the lineup and both are expected to play Friday against Anaheim.
Huberdeau has not played yet this season because of a preseason Achilles injury. Barkov has missed more than a month with a back injury.
The moves are timely for the Panthers, who entered Friday four points out of both the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and third place in the Atlantic Division. The top two wild-card teams and the top three in divisions make the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Barkov and Huberdeau were linemates of Jaromir Jagr last season when Florida won the Atlantic.
Barkov has nine goals and 18 assists in 36 games this season for Florida. Huberdeau had 59 points last season.
Both were cleared for contact earlier this week and were back on the ice for practice — though it was believed that they still needed perhaps a couple more weeks to get ready for games.
“They are two of our young cornerstone players and have been adamant about getting back to game action,” Panthers hockey operations president Dale Tallon said. “It’s exciting to have our team returning to full health as we continue our push to the playoffs.”
Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe lauded the team’s medical staff to get both players back on the ice.
“I’ve seen how hard both Sasha and Jonathan have worked to recover from their injuries,” Rowe said. “And I know they can’t wait to get back to competing alongside their teammates.”
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