Aleksander Barkov’s main contribution to the Florida Panthers’ scoring through the first 12 games of the season had come through setting up his teammates to get the puck in the back of the net.
His 13 assists were an impressive feat, no doubt, but the fact that Barkov had not scored a goal to that point was surprising to say the least.
That finally changed midway through the third period Wednesday in Colorado, when Barkov tapped in a shot on a power play in Florida’s eventual 4-3 overtime win over the Avalanche.
“He’s putting up points,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of Barkvo, “but I think everyone would love to score a goal here and there.”
And, to the Panthers’ credit, they have already had their share of goal-scorers so far this year.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Panthers have had 17 players record at least one goal. That’s tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators for the most goal scorers on a single team so far this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau, who had his second multi-goal game of the season on Wednesday, leads the club with seven goals. Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman are right behind him with six.
Six others — Brett Connolly (four), Noel Acciari (four), MacKenzie Weegar (three), Denis Malgin (three), Frank Vatrano (three) and Brian Boyle (two) — have multiple goals.
“It is important. When we win, it’s every line going,” Huberdeau said. “It’s nice to see everybody scoring. You want everybody to get their cookies.”
It’s helped the Panthers become one of the top offensive teams in the league through the first month of the season. Florida is tied for fifth in the NHL with an average of 3.54 goals per game.
“We’ve had more production than you might have budgeted,” Quenneville said, “but then we’ve had more in our own net as well. We have to make sure that we’re stingier, but I like the fact that a number of guys have had stretches where they had their turn of pucks going in for them. I think all the lines offensively have had their contributions. There’s balance in our lineup. That’s one thing we like.”
Vincent Trocheck and Mike Matheson are missing their sixth and fifth games, respectively, with lower-body injuries.
And now forward Jayce Hawryluk is going to be sidelined as well after taking a big hit in the third period Wednesday against Colorado. Quenneville said he will likely miss about a month with an upper-body injury.
Trocheck and Matheson could potentially return to the lineup as early as Thursday’s home game against the Washington Capitals.
Starting with Saturday against the Red Wings, the Panthers play 16 of their next 21 games at home after only having four games at the BB&T Center in the opening month.
The Panthers went 6-3-4 in October, including a 4-2-3 mark in nine road games. They enter November in the second wild card spot for the Eastern Conference.
“We were on the road a lot, but I thought we competed hard and are in a good spot right now,” Huberdeau said. “Obviously you always want to be higher [in the standings], but we did a good job staying focused.”