Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov named to Finland’s Olympic roster

01/08/2014 12:00 AM

03/14/2014 2:45 PM

Just a few days ago it appeared that Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov would be getting a few weeks off in February.

The 18-year-old has had quite an impressive few weeks, however, leading him to be named to Finland’s Olympic roster on Tuesday morning.

Barkov, the second player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft, tied the franchise record for consecutive games with at least one point by a rookie. Barkov’s assist on Sean Bergenheim’s goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Montreal gave him a point in each of the past six games, tying him with Jesse Belanger (1993) and Kristian Huselius (2001).

In the past 12 games, Barkov is averaging a point per game.

Also named to Finland’s roster was Teemu Selanne, 43, of the Anaheim Ducks. He will be playing in his sixth Winter Olympics.

Barkov isn’t the only Florida player who will be headed to Sochi. Although Tomas Fleischmann was snubbed by the Czech Republic, Tomas Kopecky will represent Slovakia for the second consecutive Olympics.

Kopecky, 31, had a goal in seven games during the Vancouver Games in 2010.

“Obviously it’s a great honor not only to represent your country but the Florida Panthers as well,’’ Kopecky told Steve Goldstein and floridapanthers.com on Tuesday.

“It’s a great honor. It’s very special because you’re not only representing yourself, but your whole country. You have lots of friends watching back home and family. ... It’s very special.’’

Defenseman Brian Campbell was figured to be on the outside looking in for a spot on Team Canada and said he didn’t expect to be chosen. He was not.

Two former Panthers will be with Team Canada, however, with Broward resident Roberto Luongo making his third Olympic appearance. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is back in the Olympics for the first time since he went as a member of the Panthers in 2006.

The Canadian roster had some surprising omissions: Claude Giroux of the Flyers, Martin St. Louis of the Lightning and the Sharks’ Joe Thornton — all among the NHL’s scoring leaders — didn’t make the cut.

The defending gold medalists will be led by Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s leading scorer.

The host team also announced its roster with 15 NHL players among the 25 who will represent Russia at the Sochi games. The Russians will be led by Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins.

Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was considered a long shot to make the team and did not make the cut.

Thomas’ luck

Montreal got its game-winning goal in the second period when Tomas Plekanec picked off a soft clearing pass from Ed Jovanovski behind the Florida net.

During the play, Erik Gudbranson - whom Jovanovski’s pass was intended for - cut in front of Thomas and made slight contact with his goalie. Brian Gionta buried the shot from Plekanec.

“It was a messed up play, a little bad of bad luck,’’ said goalie Tim Thomas, who took the loss despite making 33 saves.

“I lost my stick by the time I recognized what was happening. I let go of my stick but something was already started. That’s hockey, you know? I don’t know if it happens to everyone but stuff like that seems to happen to me all the time.’’

Said Bergenheim: “He played great again. I’m not happy at all with how we played.

“We weren’t good.’’

This report was supplemented with material from Miami Herald wire services.

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