Jonas Johansson gave up three goals, including two in a ten span, during a horrid first half of the third period in the Florida Panthers disappointing 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Cats entered the final frame down by a mere goal, but the Blue Jackets grew the lead at the 3:12 mark when Gabriel Carlsson one-timed an Oliver Bjorkstrand pass in from the lower left circle.
Art Ross contender Jonathan Huberdeau pulled the Cats back within a goal 3:40 later when he took possession of a Mason Marchment’s dump in that bounced into the slot, thanks to Aleksander Barkov lifting Vladislav Gavrikov’s stick, and deposited the puck behind J-F Berube.
The game was lost when Cole Sillinger capped off a 3-on-2 rush by beating Johansson from the left dot, from Jakub Voracek, at 9:47 and then Justin Danforth tipped Adam Boqvist’s drive from the point home ten seconds later.
Andrew Brunette would pull Johansson for an extra attacker early and Huberdeau worked a little more magic by stealing the puck from Andrew Peeke and passing off to Barkov, who took a sharp-angled shot that left a juicy rebound for Sam Bennett to clean up at 13:41.
After taking possession after the ensuing faceoff, Johansson headed to the bench again, but this time the Blue Jackets found the empty net with Bjorkstrand doing the honors from center ice to complete the scoring with the assists going to Jack Roslovic, his second of the period, and Dean Kukan.
As they did in Tuesday night’s loss to Nashville, the Panthers opened the scoring. Barkov hit MacKenzie Weegar with a back door pass to complete the hard-working shift with a goal at the 8:33 mark of the first with the second assist going to Carter Verhaeghe.
Patrik Laine converted a perfect pass from Voracek later in the period to tie the game and extend the NHL longest active point streak to 11 games. Laine has racked up 13 goals and 21 points during his streak.
Boone Jenner’s redirection of Gavrikov’s shot from the point 9:32 into the second was the only goal of that period and gave the Blue Jackets a lead they would not relinquish as Berube, filling in for the injured duo of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo, finished with 39 saves to up his record to 3-0 on the season.
The Panthers have started this five-game homestand off with two duds in a row, with this one being worse than the first. Florida surrendered two goals and an empty-netter in the third period against the Predators and upped the ante by giving up three goals and an ENG against Columbus. The Cats were in both of these games, but crumbled in the final frame of both. What exactly is going on here... Yes, a lot the blame goes on goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Johansson, but a lot of passengers among the skaters as well. Brunette needs to right ship with the Edmonton Oilers coming in for a Saturday matinee. Due to their goalie woes, the Oilers are always a beatable foe, however Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both looking like their usual dangerous, high-scoring selves under new head coach Jay Woodcroft.
Cuffs & Buttons
- After getting destroyed 9-2 and 8-4 by the Panthers in January, it had to feel good for Columbus to take the final game of the season series. The Blue Jackets are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, winning four in a row and seven of their last eight.
- Jonathan Huberdeau now has an assist in nine straight games, a franchise record, and has produced 16 points (2G/14A) over that span. Huberdeau is tops in the NHL in scoring with 74 points. One more than Edmonton’s dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl.
- Jonas Johansson made 22 saves in his first game for the Cats since being claimed off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche on December 13. Johansson is 3-3-1 with a 3.94 GAA and .877 save percentage this season. Bill Zito might need to bring in another goaler if Spencer Knight isn’t ready to be the bona fide number two by the trade deadline.
- Journeyman J-F Berube is the second goaltender in team history to win his first three decisions for the Blue Jackets, joining Steve Mason, who did it during the 2008-09 campaign.
- Sam Bennett, who scored and registered a game-high 8 shots, could be facing more disciplinary action for his late third period high hit on rookie Cole Sillinger.
- For more on Florida’s second consecutive six-goal egg, visit The Cannon.