Barkov’s short-handed goal leads Panthers over Blackhawks

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Aleksander Barkov scored a tiebreaking short-handed goal in the third period, and the Florida Panthers beat the slumping Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Monday night.

Barkov poked in a loose puck from right in front with 6:34 left. It was the Panthers’ first short-handed goal this season. Barkov also had a pair of assists.

“Usually on the power play they think more about scoring goals and not to defend, then you get lots of room,” said Barkov, who also collected two assists.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots and won his sixth straight start. Down 3-1, the Panthers scored five unanswered goals to win their fourth straight game.

“Barky stepped up at the right time as usual. I think he’s the best player in this league, in the world,” Bobrovsky said.

Florida defenseman Gustav Forsling scored his first goal of the season and had an assist. Owen Tippett scored his third goal in four games, and Aaron Ekblad also scored. Carter Verhaeghe and Alex Wennberg added empty-netters.

But it was Barkov who made the difference. The captain has five goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games.

“He’s been outstanding in every way, in all situations,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Barky is having a tremendous year, and his line has been dominating and he’s a big factor in that.”

Patrick Kane, Philipp Kurashev and Brandon Hagel scored for the Blackhawks, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Kevin Lankinen made 30 saves.

Lankinen lost track of the puck as it bounced in the paint before Barkov got it into the net.

“I tried to make the first save, it stayed somewhere in there and we weren’t able to clear the puck.” Lankinen said.

Barkov’s short-handed goal was a costly play for the Blackhawks.

“Pretty much every shift, guys are left with their jaw hanging on the floor with how he makes plays and how he makes things happen out of nothing,” Ekblad said. “He’s a big guy, and he finds a way to shake these little guys and his puck protection, his vision, everything.”

Chicago opened a 3-1 lead on goals by Kurashev and Hagel in the second. The Panthers then rallied on goals by Ekblad and Forsling 62 seconds apart. Ekblad scored during a power play, and Forsling’s shot through traffic tied it at 3 with four minutes left in the period.

“A very sour finish because I thought we competed hard most of the game,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said.

MILESTONE

Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar played his 200th NHL game.

Barkov played his 507th NHL game, passing Bill Lindsay for the 10th-most games played in a Panthers uniform.

Ekblad’s goal earns him his sixth career 10-goal season.

ATTENDANCE

The Panthers cap attendance at 5,000, or 25% capacity. The crowd was 4,512 for Monday’s game.

UP NEXT

The Blackhawks visit Tampa Bay on Thursday.

The Panthers host Nashville on Thursday.

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