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5 Takeaways: Barkov Has 4 Points as Panthers Fall to Flames in Shootout

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

10/24/19 Post Game Interviews

10/24/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Aleksander Barkov, defenseman Aaron Ekblad and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

  • 01:20 •

CALGARY - The Florida Panthers clawed back to claim another point.

Fueled by four a four-assist game from captain Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers erased a 4-2 deficit early in the third period to come from behind and claim an eventual point in the standings with a 6-5 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night.

Extending its point streak to seven games, Florida now sits in third place in the Atlantic Division.

"We had enough chances to win the game," Barkov said. "We've got to find a way to win shootouts as well. We have great goalies. As shooters, we need to score a couple goals."

Austin Czarnik opened the scoring for the Flames in the first period on the power play, sending a shot towards the net that deflected off the skate of a Panther and in to make it 1-0 at 11:43.

In the second period, the Panthers quickly struck back, as Jonathan Huberdeau went top-shelf on David Rittich to tie the game 1-1 at 4:28. Later, the Flames would regain the lead on a goal from Matthew Tkachuk at 11:59. At 15:15, MacKenzie Weegar scored to tie the game again 2-2.

The Flames would re-take the lead once again early in the third period, as Tkachuk potted his second of the night just 32 seconds into the final frame to make it 3-2. At 5:16, Mark Giordano doubled Florida's deficit, slipping through the zone and beating Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 4-2.

From there, Florida went on the offensive.

Over the next 8:39, the Panthers scored three straight goals to claim at 5-4 lead. Josh Brown kick started the comeback with a goal at 6:20, followed by a score from Evgenii Dadonov at 8:41 that tied the game at 4. Then, at 14:59, Mark Pysyk gave Florida its first lead of the night at 5-4.

"We've been doing that all the time," Barkov said of the team's late surge. "We know we have a good enough team to win games and battle back from any point of the game. Even if we're losing by two or three goals, we can battle back. It shows our character. We have that."

With 2:43 left in regulation, Sam Bennett scored to make it 5-5 and force overtime.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout, where Sean Monahan and Tkachuk each found the back of the net to hand the Panthers their third shootout loss of the season.

Through 10 games, the Panthers (4-2-4) have gotten at least a point in eight games.

"Getting a point on the road in that situation, we'll take it," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's shootout loss in Calgary…

1. TOP-SHELF AT THE SADDLEDOME

Huberdeau remains red-hot.

With the Panthers trailing 1-0 early in the second period, the 26-year-old winger skated up the left side of the ice before beating Rittich with a blistering top-shelf snipe to make it 1-1 at 4:28. 

Video: FLA@CGY: Huberdeau goes top shelf on Rittich

"Huby had a great shot," Quenneville said. "It looked like a Hoff shot tonight. That line was very effective. It was nice to see that line being dangerous and having the puck a lot."

Huberdeau is currently tied for the Panthers lead in points with Barkov (12), while also sitting tied with both Mike Hoffman and Dadonov for the most goals (5). Through 10 games, he's found his way onto the score sheet in eight different contests, including four multi-point performances.

2. WEEGAR'S WILD RIDE

In the midst of his third full season with the Panthers, Weegar's discovered his scoring touch.

Skating down from the blue line and receiving a pass from just beyond the circles, the 25-year-old defenseman beat Rittich with a wrist shot right down the middle to make it 2-2 at 15:15 of the second period.

Video: FLA@CGY: Weegar snaps puck by Rittich

"Weegs has been really good for us this year," Quenneville said. "He skates well with the puck. He's always looking to make direct plays. He's active off the point… Offensively, he's done a really good job for us. But defensively he's also done a really good job for us."

Moved up to the team's top-defensive pairing four games into the season, Weegar's offensive numbers have really taken off. Following his performance tonight, he currently leads Florida's defenseman in both goals (3) and points (6), while also chipping in 15 hits and four blocks.

With one more goal, he will match the career-high four goals he scored in 64 games in 2018-19.

3. THE CATS STRIKE BACK

Despite surrendering two goals early in the third period, the Panthers didn't falter.

Just 1:06 after Giordano extended Calgary's lead to 4-2, Brown managed to stop the bleeding, scoring on long shot through traffic that cut Florida's deficit down to 4-3 at 6:20. Known more his physicality than point production on the blue line, the goal was just the second of his career.

Video: FLA@CGY: Brown hammers puck by screened Rittich

A little over two minutes later, the Panthers would tie the game on a goal from Dadonov. Skating up the ice on a 2-on-1 break, the 30-year-old winger collected a smooth backhand feed from Huberdeau and sent the puck into the net from on the doorstep to make it a 4-4 game at 8:41.

His fifth goal of the season, Dadonov is now tied for the most goals on the team.

Video: FLA@CGY: Dadonov puts home Huberdeau's dish to tie it

"We just keep finding ways," Quenneville said of the team's ability to come back. "Obviously scoring a big goal right back early, there was a lot of time left in the game. It didn't take long to get us the second one. That's a good sign. We've got some guys that can make plays."

At 14:59, Mark Pysyk, who has recently been converted from defenseman to winger, scored his first goal of the season and gave the Panthers their first lead of the night when he made it 5-4.

Video: FLA@CGY: Pysyk puts Panthers ahead in 3rd

"He's played well there," Quenneville said of Pysyk. "For a defenseman to be put in that position, I think he always thinks the game the right way. I think he adds some speed up front, and he's always in the right place. He made a nice play down the slot. Great shot."

4. ASSISTS FOR SASHA

There was one common denominator between Florida's first four goals tonight.

They were all assisted by Barkov. With four assists tonight, the 23-year-old center increased his team-leading assist total to 12, which also places him in a tie with Edmonton's Connor McDavid for second-most in the NHL.

Despite having no goals on the season, he's still tied for the team-scoring lead with 12 points.

"I try to do whatever I can do," Barkov said. "If it's defensive or offense, I still need to get better as well. I'm playing with really good players. You don't need to make an unbelievable pass for them to score goals. I need to start thinking more about shooting and having that mentality."

Barkov also reached an impressive career achievement tonight. Pushing his career point total to 357, he's now moved past Scott Mellanby (354) for the fourth-most points in franchise history.

5. EKBLAD'S MILESTONE

Times flies, doesn't it?

By taking the ice tonight in Calgary, Aaron Ekblad officially competed in the 400th game of his NHL career, becoming only the sixth defenseman in Panthers history to achieve that milestone.

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: #FlaPanthers @Ekblad5FLA is playing in his 400th NHL game tonight. Ekblad was drafted first overall by FLA in 2014. pic.twitter.com/oCYVYzBPf6

"It's crazy," Ekblad said. "I don't even know what to say about it. I've learned a lot. It's been a lot of fun. It's only 400, gotta keep going and get some more under my belt."

The first-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Ekblad burst onto the scene with the Panthers during the 2014-15 season, winning the Calder Trophy after posting 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points in 81 games as a rookie. Since then, he's tallied at least 10 goals every season since.

With 66 career goals, no blueliner in Panthers history has lit the lamp more than Ekblad.

Entering tonight's contest, the 23-year-old led the Panthers and ranked fifth in the league in average ice time per game (25:20), while also leading Florida's defenseman in assists (5).

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