The Florida Panthers have had plenty of memorable moments over the course of their 30 years as an NHL franchise.
Record-setting Left winger Matthew Tkachuck added another one to the highlight reel on Thursday night, assisting on Gustav Forsling's early second period goal to give Florida a 3-2 lead on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The assist erased the Panthers' early 2-0 deficit, and allowed Tkachuk to officially stake his claim as the team's all-time leader in postseason assists, just one year into an eight-year, $76 million deal with the team.
It goes fast in hockey they say. Panthers takes the lead, 3-2. Forsling makes the board. #LeafsForever #TimeToHunt pic.twitter.com/oss3X5rKYZ
— Andrei K (@karp_andrei) May 5, 2023
The play helped Tkachuck break Stu Barnes' 1996 team record for most assists in a playoff with 10 (through 9 games). Barnes needed 22 games to set the original record.
With more than five-plus goals and 10-plus assists through his first eight playoff games, Tkachuk was already in elite company prior the Thursday's faceoff at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Tkachuck's incredible play inspired local broadcaster Jon Linder to rank him just behind Jimmy Butler on a list of the best athletes currently playing in the Miami area.
Wingers with 5+ goals and 10+ assists in their first 8 games of a playoff year:@FlaPanthers Matthew Tkachuk (2023)
David Pastrnak (5G-12A in 2018)
Patrik Elias (6-10 in '06)
Rick Middleton (6-13 in 1983)
Joe Mullen (7-10 in '82)
Mike Bossy (8-12 in '81)
Gordie Howe (5-11 in '55) pic.twitter.com/zl5zXlrpGL
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) May 5, 2023
Five other Panthers players also tallied points in the first two periods of the game, including Anton Lundell and Aleksander Barkov with two goals each.
Tkachuk and the Panthers managed to hold off a late Toronto comeback effort of their own in the third period, slamming the door shut and taking a 3-2 win back to the FLA Live Arena for Sunday's Game 3 at 6:30 p.m.
It's sure to be a joyful flight home for the franchise's biggest star, as the team sets its sights on a commanding 3-0 series lead.