The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to furiously battle for a postseason berth in 2024, but didn't do themselves any favors after a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night. But more concerning for the club is the health of Jake Guentzel, who didn't play for the final 11:58 of the contest.

After the game, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that the forward is being evaluated for an upper-body injury. That's absolutely terrible news in Pennsylvania, especially as Guentzel had emerged as a potential trade chip ahead of the Mar. 8 NHL Trade Deadline.

Pittsburgh was already forced to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen as the injuries pile up offensively, and now it looks like they'll be down to 10 — at least for Thursday night's back-to-back against Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks.

Guentzel registered an assist on a Brian Rust goal to cut Florida's lead to 4-1 late in the second period. But the game was basically over at that point, and Pittsburgh is still seven points back of a playoff spot. Now 5-6-3 since New Year's Day, this team is running out of time to figure things out ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. Guentzel is second on the team with 22 goals, and any absence would be detrimental to the playoff hopes.

It's very unlikely that the American will suit up in the second half of a back-to-back, especially as the Penguins have two days off afterwards. But if he is injured for any length of time, it would make it very difficult for GM Kyle Dubas to potentially trade him to a contender.

Penguins are running out of time

After the loss, Pittsburgh falls to 23-20-7 and second-last place in the Metropolitan Division. Although the postseason is still realistic, there are a ton of good teams battling for precious few playoff berths.

If Mike Sullivan and co. are unable to string some wins together down the stretch, it'll be the first time in the Sidney Crosby era that the Penguins have missed the postseason in back-to-back seasons.

If that happens, it could be wholesale change in Pennsylvania ahead of 2024-25. But the focus now is just getting a win over the lowly Blackhawks — and getting Jake Guentzel healthy.