Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter
SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers’ roster got a major boost on Monday night when top line center Aleksander Barkov returned after a 10-game absence.
Barkov suffered a broken bone in his hand after blocking a shot during the Panthers 3-2 loss in Chicago on October 22nd.
Florida went 4-4-2 without Barkov but the team’s scoring struggled as coach Gerard Gallant constantly shuffled the forward lines trying to find combinations that worked.
Now that the 20-year-old Barkov has returned, Gallant reunited him with Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr.
The trio appeared to pick up right where they left off on Monday against Tampa Bay, consistently creating scoring chances thanks to the playmaking ability of all three players.
Huberdeau and Jagr each had an assist on the Panthers only goal, which was scored by Aaron Ekblad with 20.2 seconds left in the 3rd period to give Florida a 1-0 win.
Barkov had several nice plays including a between-the-legs shot that was stopped by Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy after a nice pass from Huberdeau.
The only area that Barkov struggled on Monday was in the faceoff circle where we won just two of eight.
Coming into the game Barkov had won 50.9 percent of his faceoffs so far this season.
Florida’s top line was one of the best in the NHL last season after the Panthers acquired Jagr in a late season trade.
They are expected to continue having success this season and so far they have not disappointed.
The Panthers face the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, November 19th at 7:30 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
Follow David on Twitter (@DavidDwork)