The Florida Panthers won their ninth game of the season Thursday night, getting a goal from Eetu Luostarinen in overtime to beat a plucky Washington Capitals team 5-4 which had rallied from a three-goal deficit to force OT.
Sasha Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, scored twice (well, three times) in the win to tie Olli Jokinen for the franchise lead in goals scored with 188.
Barkov, who has five goals in the past three games, could pass Jokinen on Saturday night when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town.
Florida did see goalie Sergei Bobrovsky leave the game after making 13 saves. The team said Bobrovsky had an upper-body injury and that he was questionable to return — meaning he probably could have if needed.
Bobrovsky made a couple of saves but it did not appear that he hurt himself on any of them.
In the first, the Panthers came out flying while the Capitals looked like a team which had spent a few days cruising the strip on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Florida got the scoring going just over three minutes into the game when Barkov got his first by following up a nice rebound off a shot from Anthony Duclair. Barkov went after the rebound like a shark to bait, hauling it in and then beating Ilya Samsonov with a slick backhand.
The Capitals called foul, challenging the play saying Duclair got in Samsonov’s way — but the NHL saw it differently.
“Video review confirmed that the actions of Washington’s John Carlson caused Florida’s Anthony Duclair to contact Ilya Samsonov prior to Aleksander Barkov’s goal,’’ the league’s explanation read.
Florida kept its goal and went on the power play.
Although the Panthers did not score there, they would tag on a second goal at 11:04 on a nice shot from Aaron Ekblad. Playing the point, a big rebound came his way above the right circle and he wound up and ripped a shot for a 2-0 lead.
Knight got tested early in the second, Daniel Sprong broke loose on a stretch pass from Anthony Mantha, walked in on Knight and scored 43 seconds in.
Florida made it 3-1 on a goal from Brandon Montour at 7:16 of the second and appeared to make it 4-1 on a power play goal from Barkov.
Officials on the ice said that Patric Hornqvist interfered with Samsonov and waved off the goal. Hornqvist could be seen yelling “I never touched him!” Video supported Hornqvist’s claim.
Regardless, Barkov ended up getting his second of the night and Florida got its three-goal lead a few moments later when he went hunting for a loose puck near the crease with 4:28 before the break.
The Panthers were rolling, the Capitals looked gassed and that should have been it.
Washington answered with a pair of goals in the final two minutes — one from Alex Ovechkin and another from Tom Wilson — to head into the third just down a goal.
Less than seven minutes into the third, the Capitals got the tying goal on a strange turn of events.
Ovechkin fought for the puck along the back boards and threw it forward; the puck landed right in front of the net — and basically on Connor McMichael’s stick — and he swept it past Knight for his first NHL goal.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Sasha Barkov, Florida
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
3. Eetu Luostarinen, Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
CAROLINA HURRICANES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560-AM
- Last season: Carolina won 6-0-2