The Florida Panthers hit the halfway point of the 2017-18 season with a hard-fought, but frustrating 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
After opening the game in dominating fashion, the Blue Jackets quickly took advantage of a slashing call on Aaron Ekblad to get the game’s first goal 9:47 into the first period when Nick Foligno pumped home the rebound of Pierre-Luc Dubois’ shot from in tight on James Reimer. Seth Jones drew the second assist for finding Dubois down low.
The Panthers rebounded from their slow start to even things up 31 seconds into the middle frame. After Aleksander Barkov forced a turnover behind the net, Evengii Dadonov found Jonathan Huberdeau in front with a pretty pass and he tipped it home for a power-play goal.
The Blue Jackets regained the lead with 2:11 left in the stanza with yet another power-play tally. This time, it was Dubois who was left wide open in front to redirect Jones’ pass into the back of the net after Artemi Panarin’s cross to the blueliner sliced open the Cats’ defense.
Florida carried the play in the third, testing Sergei Bobrovsky 18 times, and finally came up with the equalizer with 1:34 remaining in regulation and Reimer on the bench when Barkov quickly shoveled the puck in after Huberdeau’s crossing attempt for Vincent Trocheck deflected off Foligno and came right to the waiting pivot in the near the crease. The second assist on the game-tying goal went to Keith Yandle.
After an exciting overtime failed to produce a winner, the game went to a shootout that lasted eight round rounds. Panarin (round 1), Barkov (round 2), Jack Johnson (round 6), Mike Matheson (round 6) converted before Josh Anderson went upstairs on Reimer in the top of the eighth to put Columbus in position for the win and Bobrovsky denied Jared McCann to seal it.
Once again, the Panthers were doomed by a slow start and the inability to hit the three-goal mark, despite amassing 44 shots. James Reimer delivered another quality start, finishing with 46 saves in the first sixty-minutes, that was ultimately wasted. Sure, it was nice to get a point on the road after trailing twice, but the Cats had not one, not two, not three, but four chances to win the game in the shootout and failed to take advantage. Huberdeau and McCann were denied by Bobrovsky, while round four and five shooters Nick Bjugstad and Denis Malgin missed. Florida will conclude the its road trip Tuesday night in St. Louis.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Collars & Cuffs
- The Blue Jackets scored two power-play goals in a game for just the second time this season. The first also came against the Panthers in a 7-3 win on November 2.
- Sergei Bobrovsky brushed off Florida’s late goal to stop five shots in overtime and deny six of eight shootout attempts. Bobrovsky finished with 42 saves to collect his 20th win.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s two-point night allowed him to become the first Panther to hit the 40-point mark this season. Huberdeau has netted six goals in the last seven games.
- Nick Foligno’s game-opening goal was first tally since December 14th and ended a ten-game drought.
- Columbus defenseman Seth Jones’ two assits gave him ten points in his last ten games.
- Forward Maxim Mamim made his NHL debut and logged 9:19 of ice time, finishing with a blocked shot and an interference minor.
- For a morning shot across the bow, visit The Cannon for their take on game two of the season series.