Panthers' Aleksander Barkov goes airborne on juggling assist vs. Rangers

Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (L) totaled 15 goals and 47 assists through his first 56 games of the season. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI.
Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (L) totaled 15 goals and 47 assists through his first 56 games of the season. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI. | License Photo

March 5 (UPI) -- Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov raced by defenders, flipped up the puck and bounced it on his blade while going airborne to provide one of the most electric assists this season against the New York Rangers.

Barkov displayed the wizardry midway through the second period of the Panthers' 4-2 win Monday in New York. The 11-year veteran totaled two assists to lead the Panthers to their NHL-leading 42nd victory.


"I'm still shocked," fellow Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg told reporters, when asked about Barkov's aerial assist. "It's crazy. He doesn't even understand how sick it was.

"He's so nonchalant, that to him, it was just another assist."

Rangers forward Will Cuylle drew first blood with a power-play score late in the first period. Panthers forward Sam Reinhart then tied the score off the Barkov assist 10:11 into the second.

Barkov passed off to Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe along the left boards to start the play. Verhaeghe then fired a pass back to his highly-skilled teammate.

The puck bounced across the ice before Barkov used his blade to hit it in the air. Barkov then bounced the biscuit around K'Andre Miller's left shoulder and darted around the Rangers defender while flying off his skates.


He finished the play with a backhanded puck slide to Reinhart, who smacked a shot in past Rangers net minder Igor Shesterkin.

"It's like most of the things with him, you've gotta go back and watch it on video because you just don't appreciate it live," Panthers manager Paul Maurice said of Barkov.

"The running joke is that we work on that in practice and in the coach's office, but we don't. He's a pretty amazing, gifted young man."

Barkov assisted Reinhart for a second time less than three minutes later for a 2-1 Panthers lead. Veteran forward Chris Kreider tied the game for the Rangers with a wrist shot with 4:34 remaining in the bridge period.

Lomberg netted the go-ahead score with another wrist shot 6:11 into the third period. Forward Anton Lundell scored the final goal on an empty net with 59 seconds remaining.

Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling logged two assists in the victory. Verhaeghe also registered an assist for the Panthers. Miller, fellow defenseman Jacob Trouba and forwards Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck assisted the Rangers goals.

Barkov is tied with teammate Matthew Tkachuk for the 16th-most assists (47) this season. Reinhart ranks second in the NHL in goals (44), trailing only Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (53).


"For us, it's about building our game and trying to play the right way, trying to find some things to get better at and work on them at practice," Barkov said.

"I think it was a solid game by us."

The Panthers (42-16-4) will battle the New Jersey Devils (30-27-4) at 7 p.m. EST Tuesday in Newark, N.J. The Rangers, who own the second-best record (40-18-4) in the NHL, will host the St. Louis Blues (32-26-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in New York.

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