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Florida Panthers First in NHL, Sam Reinhart Hits 40 Goals

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Sam Reinhart is congratulated after scoring his 40th goal by his Florida Panthers teammates in the second period of their 4-3 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE — Just when teams thought they had it all figured out, Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk connected on their patented quick bumper pass on the power play in the Florida Panthers 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens.

And, it marked a very important milestone in Reinhart’s career.

The goal was Reinhart’s 40th of the season — the first time he had reached that number in his career — and it made him the fourth player in Panthers history to do so.

With the win, Florida (40-16-4, 84 points) overtook the idle New York Rangers (83 points) for the top spot in the NHL standings.

The Panthers are atop the standings for the first time this season — and are the fifth team to lead the league this campaign.

“It’s nice,” Reinhart said. “It’s felt like a long time coming so it’s nice to get back on the scoresheet. It’s nice to get another win, especially with going on the road. We got a couple big games coming up.”

It was, indeed, a long time coming.

Reinhart had been sitting on 39 goals for his past seven games.

Thursday, he had a 3-point night.

“You feel it. Especially when you’re are 19, 29, or 39,” Reinhart said of his drought. “We have been doing a lot of good things, a lot of them have come on the power play and we’ve been moving it around and finding the open guy, so we’ve been sharing the wealth recently.”

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And even then, he had held firm in second up until Zach Hyman scored goals 39 and 40 on Wednesday.

He quickly regained the No. 2 spot with goals 40 and 41 on Thursday.

“It’s a huge milestone. It’s incredibly difficult to get to it. There are very few men in the history of the game who get to the 40-goal mark. It’s a huge accomplishment. He’s earned it, good on him,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“He impacts everything we do. He’s also the righthanded faceoff man in important times, penalty killing, and then for the longest stretch quietly they just didn’t give up a goal on the penalty kill when he was on the ice. He’s very, very important to all parts of our game.”

Goal No. 41 was arguably more important to the Panthers, though.

With the Panthers shorthanded and down a goal, Reinhart created space for himself off the rush and tucked a wrist shot under the bar to tie the game.

The goal eventually forced overtime and eventually helped the Panthers to a shootout win.

“He brought us into the game again,” said Anton Lundell, who won it in Round 3 of the shootout. “He was great again. What a shot his second goal was.

”But overall, he played very well. Of course, a couple of goals as well, but overall he played really good, strong on the penalty kill as well, which was really important.”

NEWS y NOTES

Reinhart became the 10th player in franchise history to score a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the same game.

It was his fifth game this season with at least three points.

— Reinhart leads Florida with a career-high 41 goals this season, the fourth-most goals scored in a season in club history. He becomes the fourth skater in club history to reach 40 goals in a season. The others: Pavel Bure (twice — 59 in 2000-01; 58 in 1999-00), Carter Verhaeghe (42 in 2022-23) and Matthew Tkachuk (40 last season).

Reinhart also got his fifth shorthanded goal with is one away from tying Tom Fitzgerald (1995-96) for most in franchise history.

— Florida is the fifth team this season to lead the NHL standings. The others: Vancouver (42 days), Winnipeg (10 days), New York Rangers (4 days) and Boston (4 days).

Barkov (1-2, 3) recorded his seventh game of at least three points this season, tied with Tkachuk for the most this year.

— Anthony Stolarz earned his third consecutive win, playing in his 100th NHL game. He stopped two of three shots in the shootout and 28 of 31 shots faced in regulation and overtime.

Over his past six appearances since Jan. 22 at Nashville, Stolarz is 5-1-0 with a .943/1.63 giving up 10 goals.

— Florida has won six straight in Sunrise, tied for its longest home winning streak of the season (Oct. 24-Nov. 20).

During that time, Florida has allowed just 11 goals.

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ DETROIT RED WINGS  

  • When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit 
  • Streaming/TV: ABC (Chs. 10, 25)/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; 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/Panthers App
  • Last Season: Florida won 3-0
  • This Season (Tied 1-1) — At Detroit: Panthers 2, Wings 0 (Nov. 2); Saturday. At Florida: Wings 3, Panthers 2 OT (Jan. 18); March 30
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 37-19-7, 5 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at New York Rangers, 7 p.m.

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