With two goals in a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov tied the franchise record for most goals.
Scoring his 187th and 188th goals, Barkov pulled even with fellow Finland native Olli Jokinen for the top spot in franchise history.
“It feels great,” Barkov said. “(Jokinen) was a legend here. He was a great player, played here for a long time and was the face of the franchise for a long time here so I’m really proud that I get to be on the same level with him in that category.”
Tuesday night, Barkov took the record for himself.
With the Panthers down 2-1 going into the second period, Barkov drove in, found a puck near the cage and put it in to get No. 189.
The record now belongs to Barkov.
Following the game, he was reticent to talk about the milestone — not surprisingly considering it came in a 7-3 loss to the Devils — but it was obvious he appreciated it’s meaning.
“Obviously when things settle down, that feeling will feel great,” Barkov said. “I know so many great players played in this organization. Olli Jokinen played for a long time, played unbelievable hockey here.
“To be in the same category as him wasn’t even a dream. Now it’s reality. I am really proud. But at the same time, I just need to keep going, keep getting better. We have a great team but the past few games were not our best. We just need to turn this thing around.”
Following the record-tying night against the Capitals, Barkov missed the following game Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. He did return Monday against the Rangers.
Over the past six games, Barkov has six goals and nine points.
“He is a pleasure to coach and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to coach him and to be with him the last three years,’’ Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette said last week.
“There is no ego, he just wants to get better every day, he puts so much time into doing that, so it is fun to see him getting rewarded here the last few games and he has got some big goals for us here.”
That he has.
Since making his NHL debut in 2013, Barkov’s 189 goals in 540 career games are 29th in the NHL.
Barkov truly emerged as a star in 2015-16, where he started a six-season long streak of 20-goal seasons with a 28 goal campaign.
His 167 goals in that span rank 17th among NHL players.
“He has to be the best player in the world,” South Florida native Chase Priskie said. “There’s just no other way to describe it. Some of the stuff he does with the puck is incredible and a feat like that is just the tip of the iceberg for a player like that who is so committed to his craft.”
Barkov’s commitment to his defensive end of the ice paid off last year, when he became the first Florida Panther to ever win the Selke Trophy which goes to the league’s top defensive forward.
In previous years, he proved to be one of the top defensive forwards in the game, earning Selke votes for the past six years, including four in the top 10 and three in the top five.
The Florida captain also proved his commitment to the team last month by signing an eight-year contract with the team that will keep him in town until 2030.
“We’re getting better as a team, organization. All of hockey is growing in South Florida every day,” Barkov said after signing his contract.
“I see that, too. It’s getting bigger and the excitement around hockey is growing. I am proud to be part of that and honored to stay here for a long time.”
Priskie said it best when talking about Barkov: “There are a lot more accolades to come.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
- WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WKIS 99.9-2 FM
- Last season: Did not play