Anton Lundell Heating Up On First Line

Anton Lundell

Sunrise, FL – Sam Reinhart may have the Midas touch. Anyone who plays on his line turns to gold.

When Aleksander Barkov missed three games last week, third-line forward Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen moved up to the first line to join Reinhart, who usually plays on the first line with Barkov.

During those three games, each member of the Luostarinen – Lundell – Reinhart line scored a goal and combined for three assists. 

Lundell, in particular, has been on a tear of his own since playing on the top line. Even when Barkov returned from his injury on Jan. 24 against the Arizona Coyotes, Lundell stayed on the first line while Barkov slotted next to Evan Rodrigues and rookie Mackie Samoskevich on the third line.

Lundell, who was drafted 12th overall by the Panthers in the 2020 NHL Entry Level Draft, notched a goal and an assist in Florida’s 6-2 victory that night and went 10-for-12 on faceoff draws. The Luostarinen – Lundell – Reinhart line combined for five points that night.

The Finnish 22-year-old has had up-and-down productivity since beginning his NHL career with the Panthers in 2021-22. Before Barkov’s injury, Lundell had two goals, 11 assists, and a +5 plus/minus rating in 39 games this year. In four games since joining a line with Reinhart and Luostarinen, Lundell has two goals, three assists, a +3 plus/minus rating, and has a 74.4% faceoff percentage.

“I don’t think I’ve changed too much,” Lundell said after Wednesday’s game. “I’m trying to work really hard and just trust the points will come at some point. “I’ve had a lot of chances earlier in the season. Sometimes I feel like nothing goes in. I just need to keep trying.”

Based on the lines during the morning skate on Friday, Lundell will most likely remain on the first line with Reinhart and Luostarinen against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, while Barkov will stay back on the third line. Panthers head coach said he was impressed with the current pairings, and it also helps ease Barkov back in after dealing with his injury.

“They’re just good together,” Maurice said after Wednesday’s game against Arizona. “They were a great line for us in the playoffs. I don’t want to take anything away from Sam Reinhart because he’s just so strong, and eventually (Reinhart and Barkov) will go back together. But right now … it lets me really manage Barkov’s minutes coming off injury.”

After their tilt with the Penguins on Friday, the Panthers will take a quick flight to Long Island to take on the New York Islanders before the All-Star Break begins.

“A lot of games still left in the season,” Lundell said Wednesday. Obviously it’s very fun to play when I’m able to get a few points. But it’s not all about the points, it’s all-around game for me as well. I want to help the team to win.”

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