SUNRISE — After playing two games in the AHL, Florida Panthers rookie Mackie Samoskevich got a most welcomed wake up call on Tuesday morning.
With an illness running through the Panthers’ dressing room, Florida called him up the morning of Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Samoskevich ended up taking Sasha Barkov’s spot in the lineup as the team captain ended up being the only player to miss the game.
Speaking to FHN on Thursday, Samoskevich said he got the call from the Panthers at 7:30 a.m. that he needed to get to the Rochester airport for a flight to Fort Lauderdale.
The Charlotte Checkers were in western New York for their game against the Amerks and Samoskevich had to connect at LaGuardia.
“I was sound asleep when I got the call so that was a good start to my day for sure,” Samoskevich said. “I hopped on the plane at 10, landed and came right here so I could warm up and play. Fun day.”
Despite getting fourth-line minutes, Samoskevich shined in the 3-1 win as he put up a shot on goal in 8:16 of time-on-ice.
“I was really happy with it,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said when asked about his performance.
“I thought he was a little bit quicker. It’s not a speed thing for him, it’s a speed of the game thing. He did some simpler straight-line things and showed enough speed to get in behind the D for the most part. I thought that was his best game.”
While the 20-year-old has yet to register a point in his three NHL games, he has come close several times.
And he had perhaps his most dangerous chance in his short-notice third game.
Samoskevich ripped the puck from a Sharks defenseman and found himself on a breakaway with a burst of speed near the midway point of the second period.
San Jose defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov took Samoskevich down from behind and sent him flying into goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.
No call was made on the play.
Maurice did not receive an explanation from the referees on the call, nor would he share his thoughts on it, but he was impressed with what Samoskevich did to create the opportunity.
”He is slippery,” Maurice said of the 5-foot-11, 183-pound forward.
“He is never going to be blinding fast, but he is quick enough that he can get through people, and that is his gift. He can play in the tight areas, he is shifty and he has got some good hands. He is going to be a real good player.”
Samoskevich started his season with the Panthers and played in their first two games before being replaced in the lineup by Justin Sourdif.
Before Florida played its home opener against the Maple Leafs, Samoskevich was sent to Charlotte where he could get some more playing time.
“It was all positive,’’ Samoskevich said. “Playing in Charlotte is not a bad thing. You are playing for Geordie who is a really good coach. In terms of learning and getting better, he is the perfect guy for it. And, with the team, I am around guys I have been with in development camps and stuff so I have some pretty good friendships. I enjoyed my time there and I am enjoying it here. I am happy with everything right now.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
SEATTLE KRAKEN @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
- This Season: @ Florida, Saturday; @ Seattle, Dec. 12
- Last season: Tied 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 3-1-0
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Boston, 7