|ALEKSANDR BARKOV, Panthers|
|BEST IN CLASS — CARRY (2 ZONES, RED LINE IN)|
10 seconds into a period, about the last thing you ever see is a player barreling through the neutral zone and then carrying two players on his tail and one on his back as he marauds his way to the net.
But that’s the way the freshly-awakened Panthers have been going about their business lately. And Aleksandr Barkov made sure that Florida was going to take the action right to the Kings to start off the third period in a 2-2 game.
Perhaps finding the slick ice to his liking, Barkov fielded a little chip pass from Jaromir Jagr just over the red line, with three Los Angeles defenders flanking him closely enough that all four players could lock arms.
By the time Barkov hit the Kings blue line he’d gained a half step on two of them, but still had Jeff Carter poking and prodding him with his stick. Still the Panthers center refused to do anything except make a bull run at the goal.
Carter’s hounding was effective enough that Barkov couldn’t settle the puck for a shot — or even get in position for one. So he kept going as far as he could. Literally. With the puck on the end line, Carter finally gave some ground. Surely, he’d done his defensive job and now it was best to prevent a centering pass to the goal-mouth.
And that was a fatal mistake. The determined Barkov saw goaltender Peter Budaj react as Carter had — Barkov was out of room, protect the front of the net.
The puck still on his stick, Barkov saw the whole net open up for him. But he had to hit it while the puck was on the end line, which is kind of like trying to slip something through a door frame while you can’t even see a crack of daylight.
Remarkably Barkov managed to slide the puck under Budaj’s boot, as the goaltender had made an emergency move backward once he saw Barkov was going to try to finish what he started out at center ice.
The goal would hold up and Florida had three wins in the first three games of a five-game road trip.
|2/18/2017 vs. Los Angeles|