Patric Hornqvist batted the rebound of Aaron Ekblad’s shot out of the air and into the net with less than three seconds remaining in regulation and then scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout, beating Joonas Korpisalo glove side with a wicked wrister, to give the Florida Panthers a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Cats first road win of the season gave the team its first-ever 3-0 start in franchise history.
Playing for the first time in a a week, the Panthers spotted the Blue Jackets, who scored on its first two shots, an early lead.
Kevin Stenlund faked a centering pass and slid the puck under Radko Gudas and through Sergei Bobovsky’s five-hole at the 2:13 mark and Oliver Bjorkstrand’s quick shot deflected in off Alexandre Texier after Boone Jenner stripped MacKenzie Weegar of the puck along the boards 7:16 later.
The Cats would pull one back a few minutes later when Alexander Wennberg, playing his first game against his old club, broke up a play in his own end and Anthony Duclair took possession of the puck and worked his way up the left wing. Duclair managed to get a shot off as he was tripped in the slot and Carter Verhaeghe quickly grabbed the biscuit and banked it in off of Korpisalo, giving the former Bolt three goals in three games.
Verhaeghe would come out of the corner and find Aleksander Barkov wide open in the left circle and he tied the tilt 3:53 into the second period with his first of the year by beating Korpisalo up high. Duclair picked up his second helper of the game and fourth assist of the season on the play.
An early third period shorthanded goal set the stage for Hornqvist’s later heroics. Marcus Foligno hit Cam Atkinson with a stretch pass and he snapped a shot through Bobrovsky’s pads from the top of the right circle. The Cats were outshooting the Blue Jackets 17-9 at that point. Like Philipp Kurashev’s goal in his first start, that’s definitely one Bobrovsky would like back.
Each team registered five shots in overtime and the Cats were forced to kill off a tripping minor on Frank Vatrano.
Bobrovsky finished the game with 19 saves and surrendered just one goal (to Bjorkstand) in the shootout to edge his former team. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the other shootout goal for the Panthers in the second round.
It wasn’t easy, it never is for the Cats in Columbus, but the better team won last night. The two teams will meet again on Thursday night before the Panthers head to Detroit to finish the road trip.
Cuff & Buttons
- The Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak and won for the first time at Nationwide Arena since December 4, 2015.
- Patric Hornqvist was the obvious First Star of the game. Aleksander Barkov earned Second Star honors thanks to his pretty marker and game-high eight shots on goal.
- Coming into the game, Hornqvist was 0-for-6 in the shootout, with his last attempt during the 2014-15 season. Coach Q must have had a hunch... Hornqvist is the first player to score four goals in his first three games with the Cats.
- Mikko Koivu made his Blue Jackets debut and quickly made a positive impression by picking up the primary assist on Kevin Stenlund’s goal.
- Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves as the Panthers tested him 31 times in regulation and overtime.
- Not mentioned above was MacKenzie Weegar’s secondary assist on Florida’s game-tying goal and Dean Kukan and David Savard’s helpers for Columbus.
- For the other side of last night’s game load up The Cannon.