Recap: Playoff-bound Blue Jackets drop Panthers in finale

Al Bello

Cats end their twentieth anniversary season with a thud in 3-2 loss to Columbus.

A season that started off with some degree of promise in Dallas back in October, ended with the Florida Panthers dropping a 3-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets in front of a crowd of 14,241 at the BB&T Center last night.

Ryan Johansen (maybe we should have drafted this kid back in 2010) scored the winning goal on a Columbus power play early in the third period. The goal was Johansen's 33rd, a new best career-best for the 21-year-old.

The Blue Jackets jumped the Cats early, no surprise there, when Cam Atkinson scored just 47 seconds after the opening face-off on a tap-in. Columbus ended up with an 18-9 advantage in shots after the first twenty minutes.

Ed Jovanovski finished his season early by getting tossed at the 16:26 mark for elbowing Corey Tropp in the coconut. The Jovo-Cop racked up an impressive 17 PIM in his not-quite one period on the beat.

The Panthers made the most of Columbus' five-minute major when Vincent Trocheck scored an unassisted shorthanded marker 2:33 later. Trocheck finished with 5 goals and 3 assists in 20 games after being recalled from San Antonio on March 5.

Florida took the lead at 6:35 of the middle frame when Jimmy Hayes bagged his 11th goal by firing home from the right circle. Brandon Pirri and Brian Campbell collected the assists on the even-strength tally..

Mark Letestu even things up a few minutes with a power-play goal set up by Johansen and impressive rookie Boone Jenner. Tomas Fleischmann, who had just a nightmarish season, gave the Jackets the man-advantage with a tripping minor.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all nine Panther shots in the third period to make Johansen's game-winner stand up, giving Columbus a franchise-record 43rd win and ending Florida's season on, fittingly, a sour note.

Flotsam & Jetsam

  • The Blue Jackets beat the Panthers for the eighth straight time. That number is somewhat surprising as Columbus has been just as bad, for the most part, as Florida during that spell.
  • Brandon Pirri finished the season with a five-game scoring streak. Signing Pirri to a new deal should be one of many priorities facing GM Dale Tallon this summer.
  • Nick Bjugstad's 38 points set an NHL record (the bad kind) for the lowest amount for a team-scoring leader. That is just downright embarrassing. The Cats must address their scoring woes somehow, some way during the offseason.
  • Roberto Luongo finished the game with 35 stops. Luongo went 6-7-1 with a 2.46 GAA and one shutout after the deadline deal from Vancouver. Pretty impressive stuff, considering the depleted lineup playing in front of him. A full season with Louie between the pipes gives me hope for a much better 2014-15 campaign.
  • Columbus will be making only their second playoff appearance when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins next week. With the Panthers and Oilers out yet again (sometimes I think I am now paying the price as a fan karmically for all that Oilers glory I got to enjoy back in the 80's), I will be adopting the Blue Jackets as my team for the postseason this year. Troubled markets got to stick together.
  • The loss combined with Edmonton's 5-2 win over the Canucks last night, means the Cats (29th overall in NHL) are assured of having either the second or third pick in the upcoming draft, depending on the outcome of Tuesday's lottery.
  • For more on last night's season-finale, fire up The Cannon, where things will be much giddier.
  • Finally, just wanted to thank everyone for stopping by LBC to contribute or just to read the articles and commentary. It is an absolute pleasure writing for you all. Even though we are sick of hearing this, better days are ahead. I truly believe that.
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