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‘It’s Crazy:’ Florida Panthers React to Historic Run by Sam Reinhart

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Reinhart
Anton Lundell, Dmitry Kulikov and Niko Mikkola celebrate with Sam Reinhart after he scored in his franchise-record eighth straight game, this one shorthanded, in the second period Wednesday night in Sunrise. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — Sam Reinhart has been on a tear unlike anyone has ever seen.

Quite literally, as no other player in NHL history has scored a goal on special teams for more than six games in a row.

Reinhart has done so in eight.

“Yeah, it’s pretty impressive,” Evan Rodrigues said.

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”He’s always had an elite shot, and when he gets those opportunities, he puts them in the back of the net. His confidence is at an all-time high right now, and it’s fun to watch.

“It’s one of those scenarios when he gets the puck inside the hash, you almost expect it to go in. A lot of guys’ shooting percentages are around 10 percent on average, and he probably feels like it’s almost at 100 percent right now.”

Eight-game goal streaks don’t come around all that often.

After all, Reinhart is the first to hit that mark after he broke Pavel Bure’s franchise record seven-game goal streak from 2001.

There have only been 93 streaks of eight or more games in NHL history, and only Matthew Tkachuk could recount one when FHN asked players around the room if they had seen anything like this before.

He was teammates with Elias Lindholm when he scored in eight straight games for the Calgary Flames in February 2022.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” Tkachuk said. “It just seems like it’s just one of those stretches where, wherever he is on the ice, you just find him, and it’ll go in. And he is scoring in a lot of different ways right now: Power play, shorthanded, 5-on-5, shots, tips, dekes.

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”He’s scoring in every way, so it’s as impressive as it gets.”

But Reinhart’s streak is different in a couple of ways.

On top of the fact that he is the only one of those 93 to have a special-team goal in each of them, he has been doing it on both the power play and the penalty kill.

He picked up power-play goals in the first six games of that streak before scoring shorthanded goals in the past two.

”He can play in any which scenario for us, which is huge,” Tkachuk said. “When you have a guy that covers every facet of the game that can produce, they are a special player.”

The other thing about Reinhart’s streak is that he has not forced an offensive chance to get any of the 10 goals he has scored in the past eight games.

“It’s impressive to see these guys that are special, and then they get on a roll,” coach Paul Maurice said. “They get the confidence, and then it’s on and off their stick so fast, and it goes exactly where they want it.

“It’s been great to watch because you like it from a coach’s point of view, and I’m sure the fans, but you like the guy that does everything right as hard as he can. He never cheats the game. Some guys will go on a point run that you will kind of let them run with it, but they’re cheating the game a little bit to get the points first.

“[Reinhart] is killing that penalty [on Wednesday], and that’s all he’s doing, then he sees the hole, it’s the right hole, and he jumps into it. He is not cheating the game, he is not cheating his team, he is about as honest a guy you can find in the league and he is on this great run so everybody is pulling for him.”

On Wednesday, Dmitry Kulikov saw that intuition in action on Reinhart’s shorthanded goal.

After Kulikov stripped a Red Wing of the puck and sent Anton Lundell into the offensive zone, Reinhart burst into the offensive zone from way back in the defensive zone with speed to join him on the rush.

Before he saw that hole, Reinhart was behind Kulikov, covering his spot.

After? 

Reinhart zipped on in and took a pass from Lundell, and the puck was off his stick and in the net in seconds.

“Just the way he thinks the game,” Kulikov said when asked which aspect of Reinhart’s game impresses him the most.

“It’s not just his goal-scoring abilities. It’s the way he supports his linemates and thinks the game, and in general, he is a smart, smart hockey player and has a good shot.”

He has parlayed all of those things into a very successful season overall.

Reinhart’s goal on Wednesday tied him for his career-high at 33 goals.

He accomplished that feat after playing all 82 games in 2021-22, and he replicated it through 44 games this year.

Reinhart is also 26 points shy of tying his career-high 82 points set in that same 2021-22 season at 56 points.

“For us, we’ve seen the skill he has, and this is something he’s been capable of,” Ryan Lomberg said.

“Of course, he’s scoring a lot more than he usually has, but for us in the room, it’s not overly surprising because of his talent and work ethic. As his teammates, we’re all just happy to see the puck is going in for him.”

Reinhart could become the first player in Florida Panthers history to score 60 goals in a season if he keeps his current pace.

He is currently on pace for 62.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Sam Bennett said. “It feels like everything he touches is going into the net, and it’s pretty cool to watch.

“He deserves all the success he’s having. It’s pretty cool to see. Every game, he seems like he’s putting it in, so that’s pretty cool to watch and witness firsthand.”

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ON DECK

MINNESOTA WILD @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-0
  • This Season (Wild lead 1-0) — At Minnesota: Wild 2, Panthers 0 (Oct. 12). At Florida: Friday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Minnesota leads 19-10-2, 1 tie
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Nashville, 8 p.m.

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