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The Panthers will be without No. 1 center Aleksander Barkov when they visit the Atlantic Division-rival Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Barkov, who had scored in four straight games and notched a point in six in a row, left Monday’s 3-0 loss at Detroit with an upper-body injury after a hit to the head by Justin Abdelkader and is out indefinitely.
“Barkov is a big piece of our team, the engine who makes everything go,” Florida defenseman Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald. “We’ll see if guys step up.”
The Panthers saw their six-game point streak (5-0-1) come to an end with the defeat and Roberto Luongo, who was rested Monday, should be back in net with a 4-0-1 record in his past five contests.
The Sabres have gained at least one point in four straight (2-0-2) after losing in overtime and a shootout to Boston the last two games.
All-Star Ryan O’Reilly is riding a three-game point streak while former first-round pick Sam Reinhart has scored in two straight contests for Buffalo, which is 1-2-0 against Florida this season.
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ABOUT THE PANTHERS (31-16-6): Florida also is expected to be without two of its top six defensemen – Willie Mitchell (lower body) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body) – again versus Buffalo.
Nick Bjugstad could take Barkov’s spot on the top line between leading scorers Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, who each have 37 points.
Huberdeau has been blanked in three straight games while Jussi Jokinen (six) and Vincent Trocheck (five) both saw their point streaks end against Detroit.
ABOUT THE SABRES (21-26-6): Marcus Foligno (bruised leg) returned to practice Monday, reportedly joining linemates Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson, while Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) sat out but hopes to play Tuesday.
O’Reilly leads the team with 43 points – eight more than the 19-year-old Eichel, who has netted 16 goals.
Evander Kane has scored two goals in the last four contests for the Sabres, who were 27th in the league in scoring (2.26 goals) and seventh on the power play (20.4).
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- Jagr, who has scored one goal in the last 11 games, is three shy of Brett Hull (741) for third place on the all-time list after playing his 1,600th game on Monday.
- Buffalo D Rasmus Ristolainen matched his season high with five shots Saturday and was a plus-1 in the 2-1 overtime loss to Boston.
- Luongo has posted two wins in three games against Buffalo this season and is 16-7-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .938 save percentage all-time versus the Sabres.
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