Panthers coach Gerard Gallant didn’t offer much of an update Saturday on center Nick Bjugstad, who left Friday’s Game 5 early in the second overtime after tripping over Shane Prince’s stick and falling head-first into the boards.
A report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said that Bjugstad, who had two goals and two assists in the first five games of the series, did not travel with the Panthers to New York on Saturday.
Bjugstad, who missed 15 games in the regular season with migraines, left the ice with a nasty gash on his head and did not return.
“That’s hockey. That’s our league. Guys get banged up and injuries happen,” Gallant said. “I hope he can play tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, but we haven’t made any excuses all year and we’re not going to make one now.”
Florida got back center Vincent Trocheck from a month-long absence due to a broken foot and he played 31:24 in Friday’s lengthy game. But Bjugstad had been centering the Panthers’ most dominant line, between Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen.
Isles’ changes pay off
Jack Capuano rolled the dice with his lineup decisions for Game 5, putting 39-year-old defenseman Marek Zidlicky in on defense in place of the injured Ryan Pulock and sitting Ryan Strome in favor of another veteran, Steve Bernier.
Bernier, Prince and Brock Nelson had some effective shifts in Game 5 and Zidlicky had the primary assist on Alan Quine’s game-winner.
Strome and Quine were the last two forwards on the ice (along with Eric Boulton) for Friday’s morning skate. Whoever is scratched that night normally stays on for conditioning work, so it appeared that Capuano was deciding between those two young forwards.
He went with Quine and that move paid dividends. There was no word on whether Capuano is considering going back with Strome, who has had an up-and-down season. He had a goal and assist in Game 1 but had been scoreless the past three games before being scratched.