After completely annihilating the Ottawa Senators last Tuesday, the Florida Panthers were heading into a must-win game against Columbus, looking for nothing short of two points.
Netminders’ Roberto Luongo and Sergei Bobrovsky were called upon to stand in between the pipes for tonight’s matchup. Although, only one goaltender would end up victorious tonight, but who would it be?
The game started off ever so tightly, with the Blue Jackets giving the Panthers little to work with in their own zone. Columbus were plugging the middle and the wings, hopeful to stop Aleksander Barkov in his tracks. The Panthers’ defense on the other hand were getting pucks out immediately, giving Columbus’ forwards no time to enter their zone.
Frank Vatrano had a little breakaway chance early on, but was denied by Bobrovsky in result. Markus Nutivaara was chasing Vatrano down like a guard dog, hacking and hooking at the Boston native’s way:
The Panthers received a late power play in the first, courtesy of Matt Calvert (elbowing). The Cats created a couple good looks on the man advantage, but unfortunately they couldn’t cash in. The first period ended in even fashion, with the Panthers heading into the dressing room tied up at zero.
The second period was a complete change for the Panthers though. Forty-four seconds into the second, and Cam Atkinson opened up the scoring. Artemi Panarin came down on a 2-on-1 with Cam Atkinson, where Panarin dished out a beautiful pass to Atkinson. Cam then one-timed it home, giving his side a 1-0 lead:
A few minutes later, Columbus doubled their lead. This time, Sonny Milano came streaking in, unmarked. Young Sonny received a pass in the slot from Matt Calvert, where Milano snapped a shot over Luongo’s shoulder:
Things only went downhill from there for the Panthers. Seth Jones tripled the Blue Jackets’ lead, scoring on the man advantage. Both Frank Vatrano and Zach Werenski each took a trip to the penalty box, with Malgin serving Vatrano’s extra call (interference).
From there, that’s when Seth Jones blasted a shot home, giving Columbus a 3-0 lead, and adding more salt to the Panthers’ wound:
Florida managed to settle down, slowly finding their feet halfway through the second. Their brief composure lead to another power play opportunity, where Vincent Trocheck rang a wrister off the goal post. That was the closest the Panthers got to scoring, failing to cash in on two man advantages.
Shortly after, the Panthers went right back to the man advantage, seeing their 3rd power play of the game. Their last two weren’t great, but their third was by far the worst, with virtually no scoring chances created. The Panthers managed to waste three perfectly good power play opportunities between two periods of play.
The Panthers managed to escape the rest of their disastrous second period, heading back to the change rooms with a deficit of three goals. The Cats dug themselves a pretty big hole, but question was: could they dig themselves out?
The answer to that would be no. The Blue Jackets simply closed out the third period well, despite gift wrapping a fourth power play to the Cats. Moreover, the Jackets’ penalty killing unit was too strong for the Panthers’ power play crew, icing the puck down with ease, while watching the time tick away.
Surprisingly though, the Panthers created a couple of shooting galleries in front of Bobvrosky throughout the third, but the Russian netminder got the best of them, stopping every puck that came his way.
Thomas Vanek would add a fourth goal in the closing minutes of the period, prompting the red-hot Blue Jackets to their tenth straight victory, defeating the Florida Panthers by a score of 4-0.
Overall, the Florida Panthers got what they deserved: a loss. While the first and third period were decently played, the difference maker was clearly the second period, where the Panthers totally fell apart early on. Your Panthers are back in action on Saturday, March 24th against the Arizona Coyotes @7:00pm!