Sasha Barkov has score a lot of big goals for the Florida Panthers over the years but the goal he got in the second period of Game 2 on Saturday night may become his signature one.
When Wayne Gretzky seems amazed by it, well, you did something pretty special.
“That’s one of the greatest moves I have seen in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Gretzky said during the second intermission of TNT.
In typical Barkov fashion, there was no bragging when told of the comments from ‘The Great One.’ Just his typical humbleness.
It did make him smile, however.
“I am pretty sure he has scored much bigger goals,” Barkov said. “It means a lot coming from him. It is nice to hear, for sure.”
The move Barkov made was one we have seen before, even if he did not remember it.
On Saturday, with the Panthers down 1-0 to the host Hurricanes, Barkov took a long pass from Josh Mahura and had a clear runway toward goalie Antti Raanta.
Barkov, sensing he had plenty of time and space, crept in like a shark checking out his prey.
He faked like he was going to go between his skates and got Raanta to commit and hit the ice. It was then that Barkov pulled up and flipped the goal into the back of the net with the backhand of his stick.
Pretty sweet, indeed.
“I was on the ice and didn’t have the best view of it,” said Matthew Tkachuk, who scored his second game-winning goal in overtime later on to give the Panthers a 2-1 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.
“I knew he did something where it was not your traditional forehand-to-backhand. I had to watch it again. The fake through the legs … not many guys can stickhandle that close to the legs like that. It was insane. It is one of the nicest goals I have seen and it was huge for us. We’re super-lucky to have him.”
Barkov said he had done the move on a goalie before, but he was not sure if he ever tried it in a game.
He certainly has done it in shootouts, but he finally had success with it at full speed in 2019.
Playing against the visiting Montreal Canadiens, Barkov raced in on future Hall of Famer Carey Price and did the same thing. Sort of.
Against the Canadiens, he did not have the time or space he did Saturday as he sprinted to the net off a pass from Keith Yandle before going between the legs, slamming on the brakes and backhanding it through.
In that one, he did the full between-the-legs. Saturday, he faked the move.
The goal against Price in 2019 was his second of three goals against Montreal that night as he got his second career hat trick after getting his first just days before.
“That was nuts,” then-coach Bob Boughner said afterward. “And he stopped hard at the end before he did his move. … We looked on the bench in disbelief, that he could pull that off at that kind of speed.”
Said Barkov: “I’ve tried it like 17 times in my career and it worked for first time, so I’m happy. … I have seen them on the YouTube highlights and I have been dreaming of one day scoring that kind of goal. Well, it happened tonight and of course, I’m happy.”
Funny thing is, Barkov pulled off that goal with Raanta in the building.
Barkov got his first of three goals against Raanta before Montreal pulled him and went with Price for the remainder of the game.
Saturday night, Raanta got to see the move in slow motion.
“I practice throughout my whole life, when you’re outdoors you try stuff like that,’’ Barkov said. “You get that in your head and when you have a split second to decide, you just do it. Thankfully that came into my mind at that point.”
Following the goal, coach Paul Maurice told TNT that he had seen Barkov make a similar move in practice but would love to see it in a game.
James Reimer, Florida’s goalie in that 2019 game, said the exact same thing.
Of course, this one had a little more weight to it.
“He has pulled that move before, but I have never seen that happen,” Maurice said. “He is the least showboating player I have ever coached, by far. Most times when he scores, you expect him to skate by the goalie and tap him in the pads and say ‘sorry about that.’
“But he pulled that move because it was the only move that was going to work. There is no one-upmanship or showmanship in that man. It’s just not in him. Those fan moments, I get them all the time.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CAROLINA HURRICANES (MET1) AT PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 3 (Panthers Lead 2-0)
- When: Monday, 8 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 95.6 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @Carolina 2; Game 2: Florida 2, @Carolina 1 (OT); Game 3: Monday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Wednesday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Friday at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Sunday, May 28 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Tuesday, May 30 at Carolina, 8 (TNT). *If Necessary
- Season Series: (Carolina won 2-1): @Florida 3, Carolina 0 (Nov.9);@Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30); Carolina 6, @Florida 4 (April 13)
- All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting
- How They Got Here — Carolina: d. New York Islanders in 6; d. New Jersey Devils in 5. Florida: d. Boston Bruins in 7; d. Toronto Maple Leafs in 5.