Artem Anisimov scored a back-breaking short-handed goal with ten seconds left in the second period to snap a 3-3 tie, sending the Florida Panthers to their fourth straight defeat. The Blue Jackets scored two more times late in the third period to finish off the Cats by a 6-3 count.
Like they did in Thursday's loss to the Washington Capitals, the Panthers battled back twice to even things up. Sean Bergenheim's second period goal, which came 40 seconds after a David Savard power-play score and tied the game at three, had given the Cats momentum back. A hi-sticking call on Derek MacKenzie late in the frame gave Florida a chance to finally take the lead, but instead of cashing in, they let Anisimov get loose and beat Scott Clemmensen for the eventual game-winner.
The Panthers got off to another one of their famous poor starts. They surrendered power-play goals to R.J. Umberger and Cam Atkinson to dig themselves an early two-score hole.
Shawn Matthias scored an unassisted goal, his seventh, at the 13:50 mark of the opening period to stop the bleeding.
Matthias set up a Nick Bjugstad tally 6:54 into the second period to tie the game at two. The goal was the big rookie's fourteenth of the season.
Erik Gudbranson took a cross checking penalty a few minutes later, which set the stage for Savard's goal. Gudbranson was also in the box for Umberger's goal in the first period.
The Panthers responded quickly when Bergenheim deflected a Tom Gilbert point shot past Sergei Bobrovsky. Bjugstad collected his second point of the day with the secondary assist.
The Panthers hung tough in the third period, despite getting outshot 12-6, until Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert both scored empty-netters in the final 61 seconds to put the game away.
Giving up straight three power-play goals and a short-handed tally is downright atrocious, even for the Panthers. The club's failures on special teams continue to cost them games sixty games into the season. This is unacceptable. Fixing the power play and penalty kill must be a primary focus during the offseason. With the way the club has been allowing goals lately, it's looking less and less likely to me that Peter Horachek will be back next season. The Cats will be on Long Island this afternoon, looking to right the ship against fellow bottom-feeder, the New York Islanders at 3 p.m.
Odds & Ends
- After surrendering goals on five straight power-plays to the Caps and Jackets, the Panthers finally got their first post-Olympic penalty kill during the third period.
- Sergei Bobrovsky had a relatively easy outing, needing to make just 17 saves to post his 21st win of the season.
- Nick Bjugstad continues to be a shining light of hope of what could be for the Cats in the future. On the flip side, is Jonathan Huberdeau still a member of this team?
- Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson finished the game with three assists. He drew helpers on the two first period power-play goals that got the Blue Jackets offense humming.
- Scott Clemmensen looked a bit rusty yesterday. Understandable, since it was his first action since February 7th. Clemmer finished the game with 31 stops, including ten in the third period, which did give his team a fighting chance. Unfortunately, the Panthers could not rally a third time to force overtime.
- The win kept the Blue Jackets firmly ensconced in the playoff race. They trail Philadelphia by three points (with a game in hand) for the third and final automatic spot in the Metropolitan Division, and they trail the Red Wings by three points for the Eastern Conference's final wild-card berth.
- Load up The Cannon for more on yesterday's tilt and all things Blue Jackets.