Barkov's OT winner lifts Florida past 1st-place Carolina 4-3

April 24

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Aleksander Barkov scored 24 seconds into overtime to help the Florida Panthers tighten up the Central Division standings with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

After a turnover in the Panthers’ end, Barkov raced the length of the ice and fired a shot that trundled in for his 22nd goal.

In winning for just the second time (2-4-2) against Carolina, the Panthers pulled within one point of the Hurricanes. Florida has seven games left in the regular season, Carolina nine.

Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar had a goal and two assists, Gustav Forsling and Alex Wennberg scored, and Chris Driedger made 16 saves.

“They’ve had our number all year,” Weegar said. “I just didn’t want to lose to that team. I wanted to make a statement. If we see them in the playoffs, I just want to let them know that ‘We can beat you.’”

Barkov said Weegar may have had an advantage that led to his three-point outing.

“He was great. He took the morning skate off, so that’s what you have when you’re fresh,” Barkov said.

Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton scored twice, Andrei Svechnikov posted a goal and an assist, and Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 33 shots.

Just 3:25 into the game, Hamilton fired a long shot that deflected in off the stick of Florida’s Patric Hornqvist.

Nedeljkovic stopped Sam Bennett’s shorthanded breakaway bid and Nikita Gusev’s 3-on-2 tip, but Bennett redeemed himself by forcing a turnover that Weegar rocketed in with 25 seconds left in the frame.

On a power play in the second, Hamilton blasted in his eighth goal at 1:35 — just eight seconds into the man advantage — to put the Hurricanes up 2-1.

Svechnikov built the Carolina edge to 3-1 when a shot deflected off his skate at 3:01 of the third, but Forsling trimmed the lead 1:47 later. Wennberg backhanded in a tying shorthanded goal at 6:20.

“That shouldn’t happen,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Wennberg's goal on a rebound, adding that his team had a chance to put the game away with the two-goal lead.

“It’s hard when you play the same team eight times,” said Svechnikov, whose club has points in every game against Florida (6-0-2). “It’s so hard because they know what you want to do.”

PULLING AWAY

Florida’s Keith Yandle skated in his 915th consecutive game, pushing the defenseman past former center Garry “Iron man” Unger, who turned the feat while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and the Atlanta Flames.

Yandle, 34, has not missed a game since March 22, 2009, when he was a member of the Arizona Coyotes.

Doug Jarvis holds the NHL record with 964 straight games.

NICKED UP

Due to Carolina’s injuries, Brind’Amour said Saturday morning that he was shuffling his lines and getting players like defenseman Joakim Ryan in the lineup.

“We needed to get him in,” Brind’Amour said.

Blueliner Brady Skjei (concussion protocol) missed his second game while forwards Teuvo Teravainen (concussion) and Brock McGinn (upper body) were out for their 24th and 10th games, respectively.

SPECIAL NIGHT

On Hockey Fights Cancer Night, the Panthers drew 4,838 fans for their final meeting against the Hurricanes.

UP NEXT

Both teams will play Monday in the first of back-to-back road games — Carolina at Dallas, Florida at Nashville.

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