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Panthers nip Blue Jackets 2-1 in shootout to sew up fifth straight win

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Huberdeau and Barkov score in the skills competition to keep the Cats rolling.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night in Columbus, the Florida Panthers won their fifth game in a row. For the Blue Jackets, it was their third consecutive loss.

The game started out with the Panthers easily controlling the pace of play, collecting eight of the first nine shots on goal through the first half of the opening period. With the Zone Starts split down the middle with 11 for each team, the Panthers generated 22 shots towards Sergei Bobrovsky, as opposed to 16 towards Al Montoya for the Jackets. Each team blocked five shots, while Columbus simply owned Florida in the dot, winning 22-of-29 faceoffs. Vincent Trocheck went one-for-six, Dave Bolland went 0-for-four, and Aleksander Barkov won only two-of-seven. Only Derek MacKenzie was halfway decent, winning three-times-in-six. The Jackets also dished out 12 hits to only five for the Panthers. Still, the first period ended with neither team scoring a point.

It wouldn't take the Panthers very long to take their first lead of the game once the second period started. Just four seconds after their first power play of the night ended (Ryan Murphy, tripping, 19:11, 1st), Vincent Trocheck lit the lamp for the eighth time this season. As the power play expired, Brian Campbell fed the puck to Trocheck, who was down low on the baseline next to the goal crease. Trocheck tried to pass the puck to the far side of the ice through the goal mouth, but the puck ricocheted off Justin Falk's leg and past Bobrovsky for a 1-0 Florida lead. Steven Kampfer earned the secondary assist on the play.

That was a pass. The defenseman went down. We got those bounces. Those are the kind of goals you get when you're playing hard - Trocheck

The lead would last 11 minutes for the Panthers. Michael Chaput, making his season debut, slid one past Montoya to tie the game at one to the dulcet sounds of Brian Johnson screaming about how he is "Back in Black." Andrew Bodnarchuk and former Panther Gregory Campbell earned the assists.

The second period was pretty evenly matched if you look at the Corsi statistics, with each club at 17. The Jackets had six oZS to four for the Cats, but both teams blocked five shots. Florida again performed at a subpar level in the circle, winning five-of-13 faceoffs. The Jackets also continued to push the Panthers around, generating 10 hits to only five for Florida.

The Jackets appeared to be the hungrier team through the third period, taking fifteen shots to only eight for the Panthers, and getting seven of them on net to five. The Jackets again lit up the Cats by outhitting them 11-to-five and out-Zone-Starting them 12-to-four. The Panthers redeemed themselves in the faceoff circle in the final regulation period, winning half of the 18 attempts. Montoya guaranteed at least one point for the Panthers after Florida killed off consecutive (and slightly overlapping) two-minute minor penalties near the end of the third period.

Ryan Johansen and Brandon Pirri traded unsuccessful shootout attempts to start things out before Cam Atkinson beat Montoya. With a 1-0 shootout lead, Bobrovsky turned Trocheck's shot away to close out the second round. Montoya stoned Alexander Wennberg in the third before Jonathan Huberdeau beat Bobrovsky in the do-or-die round. Huby beat him by making almost no move at all. He held the puck, then held it, and held it until he was almost past the crease before chipping it over the sprawled out Jackets netminder.

I kind of read him. I don't think he bites on shots, so I said, 'I'm going to put him down.' It worked out. - Huberdeau

Boone Jenner was unsuccessful in the fourth round, and Barkov finished it off a moment later with a backhand dagger for Florida's fifth win in a row.

Give the grinders credit. They worked hard. They got in the way. They had a couple of chances, but overall the penalty kill was good. - Florida coach Gerard Gallant

It was only Florida's sixth win against the Blue Jackets in 19 tries overall, and their third win in four shootouts this season. The Panthers are shooting 9-for-15 in the skills competition, and their three shootout wins have them tied with the Ottawa Senators for the NHL lead. Their 60% shooting success rate is third best in the league, behind the San Jose Sharks (two-for-two) and the Calgary Flames (six-for-10).

Biscuits

Get your advanced statistical breakdown at war-on-ice.com.

Here's the full recap at NHL.COM and the boxscore at hockey-reference.com.

Steven Kampfer and Logan Shaw were the only Florida players to wind up the night with negative PMI (patent pending) ratings. In simple terms, this means the ice was slanted downward toward Bobrovsky (on balance).

In stopping 22-of-23 shots, Montoya stretched his record out to 3-1-1 on the season, with a .926 save percentage (two points below Roberto Luongo) and a GAA of 2.09. He's been much better than we could have hoped for coming into the season, and I'm glad he's back in action again.

Jaromir Jagr hasn't scored a point on this road trip, a span including four games to this point. Trocheck's marker gave him eight, which ties the two players for the team lead.

Derek MacKenzie won nine-of-17 faceoffs, which actually dropped his season average while leading the Panthers for the game. The rest of the team combined to go 15-for-47 in the circle, a success rate below 32%.

According to sportsclubstats.com, the Panthers last night went back above a 50% probability to make the postseason.

For more on Columbus go to The Cannon. Next up for Florida is the end of the trip, in New Jersey. Read about the Devils at All About The Jersey. Stay tuned for more Panthers goodness here at LBC.