Recap: Panthers stitch 4-0 shutout win over Blue Jackets

Bobrovsky blanks his old team for the first time

Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves and Sam Reinhart collected three points as the Florida Panthers blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 4-0 count at FLA Live Arena.

The shutout was Bobrovsky’s first of the season, first-ever against Columbus, and the 38th of his NHL career.

After the veteran keeper made big stops on early chances by Erik Gudbranson(!), Gustav Nyquist and Patrik Laine, it was the Cats who opened the scoring at 9:04 when Brandon Montour settled a Gustav Forsling cross that hit his skate and blasted the puck by Elvis Merzlikins from the top of the left circle with Matthew Tkachuk providing a screen. Reinhart drew the secondary assist for dishing back to Forsling.

While that goal turned out to be the winner, the Panthers wisely added another 3:47 into the second. Following an Aleksander Barkov faceoff win in Florida’s end, Reinhart nudged the puck to Tkachuk. The two exchanged it at the blue line and Reinhart carried deep before finding Tkachuk open in the lower left circle for the pretty finish.

The captain would tack on another with 44 seconds left in the middle frame to put the home team up by three. Reinhart and Tkachuk worked the puck free behind the net and Tkachuk sent a slow pass out to Forsling. The defenseman’s shot was blocked, but Barkov collected after Valdislav Gavrikov tried to kick it from harm’s way and went backhand to forehand to beat Merzlikins from a sharp angle.

The late goal seemed to break the spirit of the Blue Jackets as they only managed to muster three shots in the third period allowing the Cats to cruise the rest of the way.

Reinhart would complete the scoring with a takeaway and empty-netter from center ice with 1:46 remaining.

Needing a win to keep from dropping further back from the playoff pack, the ailing Panthers delivered a very solid performance to secure two points. After surrendering some high-quality chances in the first, they really clamped down on Columbus, limiting them to just 22 shots on Bobrovsky, killed off the three power plays they faced, and added to their lead in the second period. The special teams flip side was really the only negative, as the Panthers matched that 0 for 3 output on their own man-advantage situations. Florida will wrap this three-game homestand Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Cuffs & Buttons

  • The Panthers are dipping deep into Charlotte. Carter Verhaeghe was scratched due to illness, so Grigori Denisenko played his first NHL game of the season and registered one shot in 13:14 of ice time. During the game the team lost forwards Colin White and Chris Tierney to upper-body injuries. Expect Denisenko to stick around for the Penguins game.
  • Sam Reinhart’s three points were a season-high and his empty-netter ended a six-game run without a goal. Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk finished the game with a plus-four rating while Aleksander Barkov went plus-three. The trio combined for seven points.
  • Tkachuk, who posted his 14th multipoint game of the season, has scored in eight straight games against Columbus, the longest active goal streak in the NHL against one team.
  • Patrik Laine saw this three-game goal-scoring streak come to a halt. Laine matched Reinhart with a game-high four shots on goal and was credited with a hit.
  • Gustav Forsling posted a robust stats pack. He had two assists, two shots, three blocks and a hit in 25:47 TOI. Well done, sir.
  • Elvis Merzlikins stopped 22 shots and dropped to 4-8 on the season. His save percentage slipped to .864. That’s not good.
  • For the other side of Florida’s fourteenth win, stop by The Cannon. /