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5 Takeaways: Barkov Ties Bure's Points Record as Panthers Sweep Capitals

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

4/1/19 Post Game Interviews

4/1/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck

  • 01:00 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Look out, Russian Rocket.

In picking up three assists to help lead the Florida Panthers to a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals at BB&T Center on Monday night, Aleksander Barkov pushed his team-leading point total to 94, tying him with Hall-Of-Famer Pavel Bure for the franchise's single-season points record.

"Of course it's a nice milestone for me," said Barkov, who has set new career-highs in goals (34) and assists (60). "It means that I'm playing with really good players and we're having fun. We're creating chances and scoring goals. That's a really fun thing. My biggest goal is to make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup, but right now it's a nice milestone for me."

Video: WSH@FLA: Barkov ties club record on Trocheck's second

Barkov, whose parents are Russian, said Bure was one of his favorite players growing up.

"He was so fast and he could handle the puck so well," said Barkov, who hails from Tampere, Finland. "Everybody loved him and the way he played, just scoring goals with his speed and skill. He was fun to watch. It means a lot that I get mentioned in the same sentence with him."

With Barkov fueling the attack, the Panthers (36-32-12) appeared dominant against the Capitals throughout the majority of tonight's game, carrying a healthy 4-0 lead into the third period on goals from forwards Frank Vatrano, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Troy Brouwer.

Washington showed some fight in the final frame, however, scoring three goals within a span of just 6:44 to close the gap to 4-3 with 2:21 remaining in regulation. But the rising flames of that late comeback were quickly doused when Trocheck made it 5-3 with an empty-netter at 19:33.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 3-0-0 this season against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Capitals, sweeping the heated season series for the first time in franchise history.

"We came out here with nothing to lose and played hard," Trocheck said. "We controlled the majority of the time in-zone and played in the offensive zone for the majority of the game. That's sort of what you need to do against a team like this with such a high-powered offense."

As for Barkov, Trocheck never ceases to be amazed by his talented friend and teammate.

"It's a joke at this point how good he is and how easy it is for him to create offense and score goals and make plays," Trocheck said of Barkov. "I'm extremely happy for him. It couldn't have happened to a more-humble person."

Here are five takeaways from Monday's win in Sunrise…

1. BREAKING THE ICE

Vatrano's ending his season just the way he started it - scoring goals.

Following a few fortuitous bounces and quick passes in the offensive zone, the puck ended up on Vatrano's stick right in the low slot. Without hesitation, he whacked the puck into the net past goaltender Pheonix Copley to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead at 13:48 of the first period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Vatrano goes top shelf on Copley

Vatrano, who was inked to a three-year contract extension in February, has been sensational during his first full season with the Panthers, reaching new career marks in goals (24), assists (15) and points (39). With one more point, he will become the sixth Panther with 40 points this season.

Of Vatrano's 24 goals, a team-leading 22 have come at even-strength, which places him in a tie for 39th in the league. Additionally, the gritty 25-year-old winger also paces Florida's forwards in blocked shots (72) and ranks behind only Brouwer on the team in hits (134).

2. HUBERGOALS

The assist king showed off his scoring touch tonight.

Taking advantage of some confusion from the Capitals, Huberdeau jumped on an errant pass from Nicklas Backstrom and unleashed a shot from the slot into the net to extend Florida's lead to 2-0 with his career-high 28th goal of the season at 3:34 of the second period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Huberdeau scores off turnover in front

Sitting second on the team in scoring with a career-high 89 points, Huberdeau has already set the franchise record for most assists in a single season (61). With one more point, he will join his linemate, Barkov, as the fourth player to ever reach the 90-point plateau in franchise history.

As of now, only Edmonton and Tampa have had multiple players post 90 points this season.

3. THE FIRST 100

Trocheck couldn't have asked for a better person to set him up for this milestone.

With the Panthers on the penalty kill, Trocheck took a pass from Barkov in the neutral zone and flew across the blue line with speed, skating toward the right circle before unleashing a wrist shot that slipped past Copley for a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 at 12:01 of the second period. The goal was Trocheck's 100th of his NHL career.

Video: WSH@FLA: Trocheck pots 100th NHL goal

"It was nice to be out there with Barky," said Trocheck, who later added to his total when he iced the game with an empty-netter. "He makes a lot of stuff happen. I feel like I get a lot of chances out there with him, even on the kill…. It's obviously nice to take a picture with the puck. It's not much. It's a milestone that I didn't think I'd ever reach, but hopefully there's a lot more to come."

Despite having his season cut in half by a lengthy 27-game stint on the injured reserve list with a fractured ankle, Trocheck has still managed to piece together a solid campaign. In 53 games, he's registered 33 points, including three goals and three assists over his last eight contests.

Since 2013-14, the 25-year-old ranks second on the Panthers with five shorthanded goals.

4. SCORING STREAK

I'll have whatever Brouwer's having.

The 33-year-old veteran winger found the back of the net for his third straight game tonight, taking a beautiful pass from Barkov through the slot and sending the puck into an open net to light the lamp and push the Panthers lead to 4-0 with 2:03 remaining in the second period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Brouwer finishes Barkov's brilliant pass

A late-summer addition to the roster, Brouwer has been a steady presence in the bottom-six for the Panthers. In 73 games, he's posted 12 goals - the seventh-most on the team during the 2018-19 campaign -- and nine assists for a total of 21 points.

Leading the team with 173 hits, Brouwer dished out a team-high seven hits against the Capitals.

5. LOU KEEPS ROLLING

Roberto Luongo backstopped the Panthers to yet another win.

Pitching a shutout prior to Washington's late-game surge in the third period, the 39-year-old looked sensational in net once again, stopping 27 of 30 shots to pick up his third win in his last four games. Of his 27 saves, four were considered high-danger stops, per NaturalStatTrick.com.

Video: WSH@FLA: Luongo shuts down Connolly's bid

"I thought he was amazing," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "He made some big saves, especially at the beginning of the second period. They came out pretty hard those first few shifts, and he made some big saves there. I think even at the end, when Washington turned it up a notch, and it was a 6-on-5, he held strong. He was a big part of our win tonight."

Luongo now owns an impressive 23-12-3 all-time record against the Capitals.

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