SUNRISE — The Panthers took a first period lead on Saturday and didn’t look back, defeating the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 at Amerant Bank Arena.
Carter Verhaeghe scored the game winning goal, while Aleksander Barkov led all skaters with three points.
Sergei Bobrovsky picked up 35 saves in his third shutout and 25th win of the season . He is 11-1-1 since Dec. 23.
“I’m really happy. I thought the guys did a great job in front of me,” Bobrovsky said. “It was a pleasure to play. I thought it was a great performance by our team.”
The Panthers improve to 33-15-4 as they continue to chase Boston for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.
2024 — Year of the Tkachuk
2024 has been a heck of a year for Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk.
He entered Saturday night’s matchup tied with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for most points since Jan. 1 with 27.
Tkachuk one-upped MacKinnon on Saturday — picking up two points while the Avalanche’s star forward was left off the stat sheet (MacKinnon left the game midway through the third and did not return).
MacKinnon — who has the second most points in the NHL — has only been held scoreless 10 times this season.
Now with 29 points in the new year, Tkachuk sits atop the NHL in scoring just about six weeks into 2024.
Following Saturday’s win, Tkachuk has 16 multi-point games this season — eight of those coming within the past two months.
Reinhart one away from 40
It’s pretty much been a nightly occurrence to see Sam Reinhart’s name in the score sheet.
In 51 games this season, Reinhart leads the Panthers in scoring with 63 points. Entering Saturday, his 38 goals was second most in the league.
Reinhart became one step closer to hitting the illustrious 40 goals in a season milestone when he scored goal No. 39 on Saturday night.
“It’s incredible. There’s like 30 more games left and he’s already almost at 40,” Barkov said of Reinhart. “I’ve said many times before, he does all the right things on the ice… he hasn’t cheated once this year.”
The goal came with the Panthers on the man-advantage, which was Reinhart’s league leading 22nd power play goal of the season.
His 16 goals since Jan.2 is also the most in the NHL.
Barkov snaps long goal-drought
Florida’s captain Aleksander Barkov has been over a point-per-game all season — picking up 19 points in his last 18 games.
However, during that span, Barkov didn’t score a single goal — his last coming Dec. 16 in Edmonton.
Barkov began Saturday night’s game doing what he’s done all season — setting up his teammates.
He picked up assists on both of Florida’s opening two goals (both on the power play).
In the third period, Barkov not only picked up his third point of the night, he broke his 18-game goalless streak.
9:20 into the final period of regulation, Barkov beat Alexandar Georgiev with his 12th goal of the season — putting the Panthers up 4-0.
“It feels good,” Barkov laughed when speaking about his goal. “It’s been a while but it’s just all about working hard and trying to shoot the pucks. Obviously we have a great team here and it doesn’t matter who scores the goals.”
Paul Maurice won his 850th NHL game
Eetu Luostarinen scored his 10th goal of the season
Carter Verhaeghe scored his 26th goal of the season
Panthers are second in the Eastern Conference