The only breaks the Panthers got in the Eastern Conference playoff race since Saturday night were the one to center Nathan Horton's left ring finger and the one to an orbital bone on defenseman Bryan McCabe.
Horton, the Panthers' second-leading goal scorer and its leader in shooting percentage, will miss two to four weeks, Panthers coach Peter DeBoer estimated. Horton's spot between Richard Zednik and leading goal-scorer David Booth will be occupied by Brett McLean. McCabe's status hinged on whether there was a threat the eyeball above that orbital bone would drop. If there was such a possibility, he would be out until the threat subsided.
Both injuries, which could damage the Panthers' power play, occurred during Saturday night's 5-3 win against St. Louis. McCabe took a puck to the face but returned to the game. Just before Booth closed the scoring at 17:34 of the third with his hat-trick goal, Horton sustained his injury.
''We were battling for the puck and he fell and I kind of fell on top of him,'' Horton said Monday morning at Coral Springs' Incredible Ice. ``He was getting up and stepped on my finger. I took my glove off after Booth had scored and it was kind of gross.''
Asked if he could see the bone, Horton said, ``Yeah, I could see everything. Then I had the surgery right after the game.''
Though relaxed and seemingly in good humor, Horton couldn't hide the frustration of the previous 30 hours -- his injury, plus all the Panthers' playoff-race foes won Sunday. Now, he'll miss a stretch of the playoff race that includes games against standings peers Pittsburgh (Tuesday) and Buffalo (Thursday) and possibly Carolina (March 23) and Buffalo again (March 25).
''There's nothing you can do, you know? It does [stink],'' Horton said. ``It's a freak accident. It's like my foot [injury from earlier this season].''