Where things stand with Florida Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk, Gustav Forsling. Plus new lines

Consider it a glass-half-full for the Florida Panthers.

The positive: Defenseman Gustav Forsling will draw into the lineup on Saturday against the Washington Capitals after missing most of Florida’s 1-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.

The negative: Star winger Matthew Tkachuk, who also missed most of the Carolina game, will not play on Saturday.

Kevin Stenlund, who has centered Florida’s fourth line, will also not play Saturday due to illness. With two forwards out, Steven Lorentz and Will Lockwood will draw into the Panthers’ lineup Saturday.

Both Forsling and Tkachuk left in the first period of the Carolina game with unspecified injuries.

Forsling’s last shift came with about seven minutes left in the first period before leaving for the dressing room. Tkachuk last took the ice with about two minutes left in the first period after taking a hit in the corner from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov.

Forsling has been arguably the Panthers’ best defenseman this season. He leads the team in plus-minus (plus-39) while also logging eight goals and 19 assists while playing on Florida’s top defense pairing.

Tkachuk has been one of the NHL’s best players since the calendar flipped to 2024. Entering Saturday, Tkachuk’s 38 points since Jan. 1 are second in the league behind only Connor McDavid’s 39. His 23 assists and 15 goals are both tied for fourth.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he anticipates Tkachuk being available on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. Tkachuk was a full participant in Florida’s morning skate on Saturday.

“He was moving around fine,” Maurice said. “Just a couple things he wasn’t 100 percent sure that he could drive at 100 percent.”

Line changes

With Tkachuk and Stenlund out, the Panthers’ forward lines will look a little different on Saturday.

Evan Rodrigues is back on the top line during morning skate with center Aleksander Barkov and right wing Sam Reinhart.

Carter Verheaghe moved back down to the second line with center Sam Bennett and Nick Cousins on the right wing.

Eetu Luostarinen and Anton Lundell remain on the third line and Ryan Lomberg will move up from the fourth line to play right wing.

As for the fourth line, Lorentz will center the line with Jonah Gadjovich and Lockwood on the wings.

As for the rest of the lineup, Florida’s defense pairing should remain the same: Forsling and Aaron Ekblad, Niko Mikkola and Brandon Montour, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Dmitry Kulikov.

Anthony Stolarz is in net for Florida on Saturday against Washington.