SUNRISE, Fla. - Jonathan Huberdeau showed no mercy.
In a battle between two of the Florida Panthers all-time great forwards, Huberdeau topped captain Aleksander Barkov 2-0 in a best-of-three series of NHL 20 on Thursday afternoon.
With more than 1,000 viewers tuning in to check out the action at Twitch.tv/FlaPanthers throughout the stream, Huberdeau lit the lamp less than two minutes into Game 1 when he dished the puck to the digital version of himself for one-timer that put Barkov in a 1-0 hole.
A bit of déjà vu for Huberdeau, the start was almost exactly the same as his opening game against Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov during the "NHL Playing Gaming Challenge" back in May - a best-of-three series hosted by the league that he also ended up winning 2-0.
"First shot, just like last time," said Huberdeau, who led the real-life Panthers in scoring during the 2019-20 regular season with 78 points (23 goals, 55 assists) in 69 games. "It's a good start."
From there, Huberdeau built up an 8-0 lead before Barkov finally scored late in the third period.
"8-1 is better than 8-0," Barkov said with a grin.
In Game 2, after Huberdeau jumped out to an early 1-0 lead again, Barkov evened things up at 1-1 when he scored the prettiest goal of the afternoon, a smooth tuck with digital Mike Hoffman.
"That should be three goals," said Barkov, who ranked second behind Huberdeau this season with 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists) in 66 games. "Hoff is pretty good at [that move], or Huby."
Of course, Barkov has also pulled off a similar move on multiple occasions in the NHL.
Following a tight opening period, Huberdeau started to pull away, jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the second period before Barkov started to mount a comeback. With less than 10 minutes left in the final frame, he managed to cut the deficit down to 7-5 with a few goals in rapid succession.
Unfortunately, however, it was too little too late, as Huberdeau ended up winning 8-6.
"It was fun," Barkov said. "It was fun to see you guys and play video games. It's not as competitive as real hockey, but still really fun. It was nice to talk and hang out in here."
With Huberdeau sweeping the best-of-three series 2-0, the duo ended up teaming up against a pair of Panthers staffers for Game 3. With their chemistry carrying over onto the digital ice, the longtime friends raced out to an early lead when Barkov scored as the digital version of himself.
Bad luck, however, struck again later in the game.
After Huberdeau was knocked out of the match due to a power surge, Barkov was forced to finish the game two-on-one. And even with his linemate cheering him on, the disadvantage proved to be too great as the Panthers staffers ended up winning the game 5-4 in overtime.
Still, win or lose, everyone involved had a great time.
"It was fun, especially seeing Barky," Huberdeau said of the series. "It's been a while."
In addition to the in-game action, Barkov and Huberdeau took questions from Panthers radio play-by-play announcer Doug Plagens during the stream on everything from the upcoming 24-team postseason to their gaming setups (spoiler: nice monitors and gaming chairs are a must).
Early on, even one of Huberdeau's cats made a cameo!
Fans that subscribed to the channel were also able to show their support for either player during the contests by using customized emojis that featured both Barkov and Huberdeau. Gaming for a good cause, all funds generated from the team's Twitch channel benefit the Florida Panthers Foundation.
And while we might have to wait a bit for a rematch, new streams are happening every week.
"We're obviously competitive and we like playing against each other," Huberdeau said of going head-to-head with Barkov. "Hopefully we can see each other soon. That was really a lot of fun."
For gaming updates and news on future streams, follow @FlaPanthersGame on Twitter.