Panthers might have to face Lightning without Nick Bjugstad

Nick Bjugstad leads the Florida Panthers in goals with 24.

Ed Szczepanski/Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad is doubtful for Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury, according to head coach Gerard Gallant.

"He has lower-body soreness and continues to get evaluated," said Gallant."It’s been an issue for a while, the soreness, and it’s got to a point where the guy works hard every night but we had to sit him the last seven or eight minutes the other night."

Absent from numerous practices in recent weeks, Bjugstad, 22, was limited to just 11:27 of ice time during Florida’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday and did not finish the game.

"He’s getting re-evaluated this afternoon and then we’ll know more later," said Gallant.

Bjugstad, who signed a six-year contract extension in December, currently leads the Panthers in goals (24) and is tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for the team lead in points (43).

As they prepare to embark on their final road trip of the regular season, the Panthers sit four points behind Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with one game in hand.

"We’re four points, we’re battling, there’s two teams ahead of us and it’s coming down to this," said Gallant. "We’ve got a tough five-game road trip starting (Tuesday) night in Tampa and let’s go play."

You can follow Jameson Olive on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at