Florida’s first two goals came on the power play, with assists by both Matthew Tkachuk and Barkov.
The first was a pass from Tkachuk to Barkov, and then to Carter Verhaeghe. After initially being stonewalled by Avalanche goaltender Alexander Georgiev, Verhaeghe stuffed home the rebound to put Florida on the board.
The second was a tic-tac-toe set up about six minutes later that went from Barkov, to Tkachuk, to Sam Reinhart for the one-timer.
Eetu Luostarinen added to the scoring in the second period. He stretched out and dove for a puck that rebounded off Georgiev’s pads, banging it home for his 10th goal of the season.
Barkov sniped a shot past Georgiev to extend the lead to 4-0 halfway through the third period.
Barkov’s Drought Ends
It was a night that saw the Panthers essentially throw the puck at the net all night. After two periods, Florida led in the SOG department 35-24.
It was the perfect time for Barkov to end his drought. Barkov’s goal in the third period was his first since Dec. 16 at the Edmonton Oilers.
It wasn’t like the first-line center was completely lost during these past two months. Barkov had 19 assists in 18 games since then and has been able to provide a lot for Florida in the defensive zone.
But still, it was good to see the captain find the back of the net again.
“He’s played almost the exact same game,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “His game has been really good. And then the injury slowed him down a little bit. I thought tonight he came back looking like he was fully healed.”
Big Save Bob
You would have never thought this Colorado Avalanche team led the league in scoring with 3.73 goals per game. Two of Colorado’s first-liners (Nathan MacKinnon with 32 and Mikko Rantanen with 28) are in the top 10 of the NHL’s goal leaderboard.
That was light work for Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky stopped all 35 shots he faced, including 10 high-danger chances according to Natural Stat Trick.
You could tell Bobrovsky was feeling himself early on when he stopped three shots on a Colorado power play just a couple of minutes into the game.
“It changes everything right there,” Maurice said. “That’s the highest scoring team in the National Hockey League. They could have a good feeling the first five minutes if they scored on that powerplay. You’d have a completely different animal you gotta deal with. And (Bobrovsky) was just bright and solid. There’s no easy shots on that team. Even the ones from the outside that he had to work hard to see.”
Anything can happen between now and June. However, It’s no secret that the Panthers and Avalanche are two of several Stanley Cup hopefuls.
That’s what makes Florida’s performance against the Avs this year all the more impressive. The Panthers are now 2-0 in their season series against Colorado this season. They won their first meeting, 8-4, back in January.
“It’s a great test for us every time we play against those teams,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “I know they’re in the same position as us, they have a lot of points. But even against teams that are chasing that playoff spot that are in the same situation we were last year, we know we’re gonna get their best. And this team is always at their best. So we just need to be ready all the time.”