Recap: Refreshed Bobrovsky stops 33 shots in Panthers 4-1 victory over Blue Jackets

Cats climb back into second place after solid performance

What about, Bob? He’s fine...

Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the net after a week off as the starter and made 33 saves to backstop the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was the first time Bobrovsky faced his old team after signing a monster deal with the Cats this summer.

The Panthers got on the board 18 seconds into the action when Evgenii Dadonov tipped Aleksander’s Barkov deflection of Keith Yandle’s shot from the point by Elvis Merzlikins.

Columbus and the Cats traded chances with both goalies coming up with big saves before Barkov found Josh Brown with a cross-ice pass and the big defenseman converted 8:53 into the second period. Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau put on a puck possession clinic before the pivot spotted Brown moving down from the right point.

Florida would go up by three 6:09 into the final frame when Yandle’s slapper from the point deflected in off of Brett Connolly’s stick and Seth Jones‘ knee with Dean Kukan off for tripping. Mike Hoffman collected the secondary helper with a bounce pass off the boards back to Yandle.

Vladislav Gavrikov broke up Bobrovsky’s shutout bid 4:25 later after he took a drop pass from Alexandre Texier and sent a seeing-eye shot through traffic to get the Blue Jackets on the board. Josh Anderson drew the second assist and helped screen Florida’s keeper.

Hoffman would notch his 11th of the season with a long-range empty-netter with 2:23 left in regulation to snuff out any hope of a miraculous Blue Jackets comeback. The lone assist on the goal went to Colton Sceviour, who blocked Ryan Murray’s shot.

After Montreal jumped them in the standings with a win on Friday, Florida’s stay in third place was brief as the club bounced back from Thursday’s disappointing loss to Minnesota with a solid win reminiscent of last Saturday’s victory over Nashville.

The Cats get right back at it today with a late afternoon tilt against the San Jose Sharks, who were utterly embarrassed by the Lightning in Tampa Bay last night. Expect the Sharks to be miffed about the beating and ready to deliver a much better effort, so the Cats will need to match their intensity.

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Yarn & Stitches

  • Aleksi Saarela made his NHL regular season debut after being recalled from AHL Springfield on Friday. Saarela registered two shots on goal and two takeaways in 10:33 TOI.
  • Aleksander Barkov’s two assists tied him with Jonathan Huberdeau for the team scoring lead while Keith Yandle’s two helpers gave him 19 assists in the last 17 games.
  • Elvis Merzlikins finished the game with 23 saves.  Merzlikins (0-4-3) is still looking for his first win of the season.
  • With the victory over his old team, Sergei Bobrovsky has now defeated every one of the NHL’s 31 franchises. The win ended a seven-game losing streak to Columbus.
  • Bobrovsky came up big in the opening period when the Cats were out-shot 10-3 to help his club hold the lead. The three shots were on goal was Florida’s lowest period total of the season thus far.
  • For the other side of the first of two between the Panthers and Blue Jackets stop by The Cannon./