Sasha Barkov has scored a lot of goals in his time with the Panthers many of which could be described as spectacular.
The Florida captain had something special in store for Carolina rookie goalie Alex Nedeljkovic on Saturday night.
With the score tied at 3 in overtime, Barkov picked up a loose puck deep in the Florida zone and turned on the jets.
Barkov raced through the neutral zone into Carolina territory. As he looks to his left as he gets to the right circle, Barkov suddenly shoots — again, while his head is looking away from the goalie — and he scores.
The Barkov shot clipped Nedeljkovic’s stick as he went through his legs and into the back of the net.
Final score: Florida Panthers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3.
“We finally beat them and it feels pretty good,” Barkov said.
It was the fifth overtime goal of Barkov’s career with Florida, putting him five behind countryman Olli Jokinen for the franchise lead.
He also has the franchise lead for most 20-goal seasons with six besting both Jokinen and Nathan Horton.
Any talk surrounding Barkov for the Selke Award for best defensive forward in the NHL has to be picking up.
With the way Barkov has elevated his game this season — and taken the Panthers with him — he has to be a legitimate contender for it.
There is no question whom the MVP on, perhaps, the most surprising team in the NHL is.
“I think that Barky has had a tremendous year, whether it’s controlling shifts or dominating possession,’’ said Joel Quenneville, who is favored to win NHL coach of the year honors.
“I know he’s had some different linemates over the last three weeks and he still finds a way to be productive and score big goals.
“He’s competitive and he does all the things you’re looking for. Can’t say enough about the contribution we are getting from Barky.”
With the goal Saturday night, Barkov now has 22 in 49 games including four in the past three games and nine this month.
Here is where Barkov ranks in Florida franchise history: Goals 2nd (177); assists 2nd (279); points 2nd (456); power play goals T-3rd (48); game-winning goals 2nd (32).
The scary part?
At 25, Barkov is only getting better.
Barkov has done all this with the ninth-most games played (522) in franchise history.
”He’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be,’’ Jokinen told FHN earlier this season. “I am proud of him. He is a guy who was highly drafted, is the face of the team and hopefully the team continues to do well. …
“There isn’t one bad thing you can say about the guy. He is an unbelievable player … we’re talking about a Hall of Fame career. That’s the level he is playing at, that’s the level his career is headed.
“He is still a baby. Watch him in the next two or three years.”