Aleksander Barkov pumped in three goals to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win in overtime in the club’s first appearance at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.
With the hat trick, Barkov hit a new career-high in goals with 37.
Jonathan Huberdeau assisted on all three goals to up his point total to 111, one ahead of Connor McDavid in the Art Ross Trophy race.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Panthers outshoot the Islanders 12-5, it was the home team that got on the board first when Sebastian Aho moved down to finish off a circle-to-circle crossing pass from defense partner Andy Greene at 4:56 into the second on a delayed penalty. Kieffer Bellows drew the second assist on Aho’s second of the season.
Barkov would even the score and hit the 35-goal mark for the second time at 14;12, snapping a shot from long range past Ilya Sorokin with Sam Reinhart providing the screen. Claude Giroux combined with Huberdeau to set up the power-play goal that came with Greene off for cross-checking Mason Marchment.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau restored the Islanders lead 61 seconds into third, finishing off a pretty triangular passing play involving Mat Barzal and Noah Dobson after he won an offensive zone draw against Anton Lundell. MacKenzie Weegar was serving time in the sin bin when Pageau turned on the red light.
The comeback Cats struck with 3:58 remaining to knot the score a second time. After taking a pass from Huberdeau, Barkov’s shot’s from the left circle was stopped by Sorokin. Radko Gudas was able to keep the play alive, eventually kicking the puck out of a scrum back to Barkov, who sniped from between the circles to establish a new career-high in goals.
The game went to the extra session where it took Florida’s hungry captain a mere twenty seconds to go from 36 to 37. Barkov pulled away from Kyle Palmieri as he headed to the net to complete a give-and-go with Huberdeau to give the Panthers their 11th straight victory. Gustav Forsling collected the secondary assist on the game-winning goal.
In addition to winning their 11th straight game overall, the longest streak in the NHL this season, the Panthers have won five in a row, and eight of nine, on the road. Their magic number for the top spot in the Eastern Conference is down to three points. Florida will return to Sunrise to open its final homestand of the regular season on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. They will also host the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning in a very challenging back-to-back over the weekend.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- The Panthers haven’t lost since March 27. They maintained their eight-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the Atlantic Division and are tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the best record in the NHL with 116 points.
- Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves for the Cats to post his 37th win while the much busier Ilya Sorokin made 39 stops for the Islanders.
- Aleksander Barkov’s hat trick gave him 21 points (9G/12A) in the past 11 games. Barkov would need 12 points over the final six games to establish a new career high in points.
- New York’s version of Sebastian Aho has two goals in his past four outings after not lighting the lamp in his first 27 games.
- With his screen, Sam Reinhart played a big part in Florida’s first goal, but he couldn’t extend his point streak to seven games. Reinhart amassed 11 points during the six-game run.
- The Panthers swept its season series against the Islanders for the first time since 2007-08. Read more at Lighthouse Hockey.