Hyde5: Tkachuck keeps Florida Panthers season alive with dramatic overtime goal

The Matthew Tkachuk trade just keeps getting better every night. His goal in overtime in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Boston he didn’t just keep the Florida Panthers season going in game 5. It more than established him as the face of this franchise. He’s not only a scorer, but also a nervous physical presence that has gotten all of Boston’s attention in this series. On a team that doesn’t play as pretty as last season, but still doesn’t have enough power, Tkachuk brings the personality that you hope will rub off on others. He has three goals and three assists this streak to lead the team. He also leads in being an instigator against Boston. You know how Tyreek Hill was a star who played beyond expectations? Tkachuk is the same idea for the Panthers.

2. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had a big game in a strange postseason for him. He had 44 saves Wednesday, none more so than when a freak sequence late in regulation gave the Boston star a chance to beat the buzzer. Bobrovsky made the stoppage to continue the season. He’s started the last two games, and you can expect him on Friday in Sunrise for Game 6. Let’s not pretend this series was a referendum on the Panthers’ goaltending situation. Alex Lyon has been phenomenal for this franchise. But Bobrovsky is owed $12 million next year, and Spencer Knight owns $4.5 million. So the bottom line here is about the bottom line. Panthers can’t pay Lyon. Thank him for his good service – and the good personality he was – and wish him well.

3. Again: Is that all you get from Aleksander Barkov in a big series? You might as well throw point guard Aaron Ekblad into that question. Barkov, the Panthers’ all-time point leader, has been noticeably quiet through five often raucous games. He had three assists. At least that’s something. But the impact? He didn’t get a chance through the first eight periods of the series — until the third period of Game 3. Yes, he has a complete game and is an instrumental defensive tackle. But to be considered a major star, as Barkov’s talent demonstrated, you have to do something in the playoffs. It’s not too late.

4. Where did the Panthers need to improve in Game 6? Let’s start with special teams. It’s no surprise given that Boston’s historically strong team is strong on both sides of the penalty kill. Boston is six of 19 on the power play in this series after going two of five in Game 5. The Panthers are two of 13 after Sam Reinhart’s shot from the slot gave them a 3-2 lead in the third period from Wednesday. Those numbers explain why the Panthers kept talking about needing to keep the streak five-on-five. Of course, they then took five penalties Wednesday, including an inexcusable penalty for six men on the ice in a 3-3 game in the third period.

5. As for Ekblad, maybe he was hurt in Game 5. He missed Game 4 with an injury. But he had two penalties, a number of turnovers, was turned over early on a good chance in Boston and the offensive guard did not have a point in the series. Again, as with Barkov, it’s never too late for a star to play like one.


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