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game recap

Barkov reaches 90 points in Panthers win against Senators

Florida's Keeper becomes first member of Pimicikamak Cree Nation to play in NHL

by Callum Fraser / Correspondent

Huberdeau nets Barkov's feed

FLA@OTT: Huberdeau, Barkov team up for slick goal

Jonathan Huberdeau receives a beautiful pass from Aleksander Barkov and beats Anders Nilsson from in close to extend the Panthers' lead to 3-1

  • 00:49 •

OTTAWA -- Aleksander Barkov hit the 90-point mark for the first time in his NHL career, and the Florida Panthers defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

Barkov had two assists and is four points behind Pavel Bure's Panthers single-season record of 94 set in 1999-2000.

"We want to just make sure that we finish [the season] hard," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "It was a good win for us, a little rebound game, and getting guys feeling a bit better about themselves."


[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Senators highlights]


Florida defenseman Brady Keeper became the first member of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation to play in the NHL.

"It's a dream come true, obviously," Keeper said. "I've got no words to describe, like I said before, how I feel. I'm just happy my parents and my whole family came down to see me play, same with my girlfriend, my 7-month-old baby and my stepson, as well."

Keeper had one shot and two hits in 12:40.

"I thought he really, really performed well under the pressure," Boughner said. "Everyone remembers their first game and how many nerves you have and how tough it is to focus.

"I know he had some family here and I know back in his hometown at Cross Lake, [Manitoba] I think everybody was watching tonight. So it's a great story. I'm real happy for him and he's just a great kid. It's nice to see good things happen to good people."

Video: FLA@OTT: Keeper makes NHL debut with family in crowd

Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals, Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and two assists and Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for Florida (34-32-12), which won for the first time in four games.

"We weren't too happy with ourselves the last few games," Luongo said. "We got embarrassed in a few of them. We had a good test tonight and we knew that we had to show up and play hard, and if we did that we liked our chances."

Brady Tkachuk scored his 20th goal of the season, and Anders Nilsson made 29 saves for the Senators (27-44-6).

"[Battling back] has been kind of our motto," Tkachuk said. "And what we've shown is that we're never out of it. We're always in it. We never give up. We're always playing for one another. Like I've said, that's what makes it fun to come to the rink with this group because everyone's going to be working for one another and putting their heart on the line. It's pretty disappointing tonight, but it's a chance to learn and use it moving forward."

The Panthers and Senators each have already been eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

Barkov's wrist shot deflected off Dadonov's shin pad to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the first period.

Colin White deked Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad at the blue line and then chipped the puck into the top right corner to tie it 1-1 at 12:59.

Troy Brouwer backhanded a rebound in at the edge of the crease to give Florida a 2-1 lead at 2:35 of the second period. Huberdeau accepted a cross-slot pass on his backhand and finished on his forehand into an open net to make it 3-1 at 6:31.

Tkachuk chipped a backhand shot over the outstretched glove of Luongo to cut it to 3-2 at 3:01 of the third period. Tkachuk tied a Senators single-game record with 12 shots, set by defenseman Jason York on Jan. 30, 1999. 

"[Coach Marc Crawford's] mentality is the more shots you take, the more chance you have of the puck going in," Tkachuk said. "That was the goal coming back from Christmas and the All-Star break. They wanted me to get to 20 [goals]."

Dryden Hunt scored into an empty net to make it 4-2 at 18:32, and Huberdeau scored at 19:46 for the 5-2 final. 

Video: FLA@OTT: Dadonov deflects home shot 30 seconds in


They said it

"I actually had an absolute blast with him. He seems like he's a great kid. He wanted to learn the whole game. … I have no issues playing with him." -- Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar on defense partner Brady Keeper

"We're all excited for him. I thought he played really well and he didn't look out of place, which is important. He didn't turn the puck over so I didn't have to yell at him. It was great." -- Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo on Keeper

"We've all been excited about how he's played all year. It's been a process for him; I think he's a very bright kid who continues to learn each and every outing. There's very few games where he doesn't give you a total, committed effort." -- Senators coach Marc Crawford on Brady Tkachuk


Need to know

Boughner said Keeper earned at least another game with his play. … With his 20th goal, Tkachuk tied Alexandre Daigle (1993-94) for the all-time Senators single-season goal-scoring record by a teenager. … Barkov has 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in his past 12 games. He is the third player in Panthers history to score 90 points or more in a season (Bure twice, Olli Jokinen). … Dadonov has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his past eight games. 


What's next

Panthers: At the Boston Bruins on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Senators: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNO, TVAS2, NHL.TV)

Video: Huberdeau's two goals lead Panthers past Senators

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