Goaltender Jacob Markstrom keeps coming up big for the Florida Panthers, showing an ability to thrive under the pressure of facing 40 or more shots per game. On Tuesday night, Markstrom turned aside 39 of the 41 shots he faced from an incredibly talented Tampa Bay Lightning offense, and stopped all three shooters he faced in the shootout to help the Panthers get the win. It was Markstrom’s third straight win, and was the fourth time this season he has faced 40 or more shots in a single game.
The Panthers defense has been besieged by injuries this season, frequently leaving their netminders in a bad situation. While there have been some rough patches for the third-year pro, Markstrom has won three of the four games in which he has been tested the most. His recent strong play has helped him improve his season numbers, as he now boasts a 2.57 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage despite sporting an overall record of 6-7-1. With Jose Theodore injured and Scott Clemmensen still not putting solid starts together consistently, Markstrom not only has a chance to see the bulk of starts for the Panthers the rest of the season, but to establish himself as the top option for next season as well.
Only Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars have faced 40 or more shots in more games this season, and both goaltenders have worse marks in goals-against and save percentage. Good news and positive things to focus on have been few and far between for the Panthers this season, so hopefully Markstrom can continue to perform well for them. He will get a chance to keep up the great work Saturday night, as he gets the start against Alex Ovechkin and the high-powered offense of the Washington Capitals.