After pulling off a third-period comeback against the Maple Leafs last night, the Florida Panthers were back in action to take on the high-flying Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus started off at a high pace, which Florida equally matched coming out of the gates. The Blue Jackets’ pressure, though, was a little too much to handle, as the Panthers were finding it rather difficult to complete zone exits.
Florida had a chance of their own to open up the scoring after an odd-man rush broke out the other way, with Frank Vatrano ringing a shot off the goal post.
The Jackets continued pouring pressure on the Cats each and every shift and were finally rewarded when Boone Jenner snapped a shot past Bobrovsky, which deflected off a Panthers stick and went up and over. But after closely reviewing the play, Joel Quenneville and staff discovered that was goaltender interference on the play, committed by Cam Atkinson.
The refs went over to the box to go and review the play, and in the end, the call on the ice was overturned as goaltender interference was called on the play, signaling no goal.
Shortly after Columbus’ goal was overturned, the Panthers woke up and regained momentum, taking the play to the Blue Jackets in their own end. They got a few really good shots off, as well as created some high-danger chances, but unfortunately, nothing was made of any of them.
Both teams would head straight into the locker room tied at zero after an eventful first period, which included a total of 29 shots between the two sides.
In the second, the Blue Jackets came out with the same intensity they started the first with. They pinned the Panthers in their end for an extended amount of time, which led to a few good scoring chances in result. Thankfully, Bobrovsky was there to shut the door on every attempt, with his shot count rising to 21 – less than five minutes in.
Columbus was awarded the game’s first power play after Mike Matheson was called for a trip on Sonny Milano, which in all fairness, was a soft call. Thanks to the Panthers’ penalty kill unit, they kept the score tied for the time being.
Florida was given a power play of their own (shortly after) when Colton Sceviour was caught up high, with blood being drawn. The Cats, in result, were rewarded with a double-minor power play (four minutes), given an excellent opportunity to open up the scoring.
Unfortunately, despite the number of shots they peppered Elvis Merzļikins with, none were able to find the back of the net and both sides were returning to the locker rooms after forty minutes tied at zero. 1:50 of Florida’s power play would carry over to start the third.
During the start of the third, the Cats continued where they left off on their four-minute man advantage but were unable to get one by Merzļikins. As soon as the Jackets returned to even strength, they picked up where they left off with their play.
They continued to swarm the Panthers zone, coming as close as to one player being in the way of a shot from going ahead. With complete control over the visitors, the Jackets moved the puck around Bobrovsky’s cage and up to the slot where their golden chance was sitting there ready to be finished. But the only thing that was standing in their way? Mike Matheson!
After sixty minutes of play, neither side could find a go-ahead goal, sending the game to extra time to determine a winner.
In overtime, Florida and Columbus each exchanged chances back and forth, but it was the home team that would prevail and scrape through.
After stripping Pierre-Luc Dubois of the puck, Matheson’s clearance was weak and failed to exit the zone, falling right onto Zach Werenski’s stick. With time and room to walk in and pick a spot, Werenski took advantage of the open real-estate given to him by Matheson and Vatrano, popping a shot over Bobrovsky’s shoulder to claim victory for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In short, it was a well-played game for the Cats, considering that this game was on a back-to-back and their best forward, Aleksander Barkov, was out with an injury. Over the last two outings, the Panthers have claimed three out of four possible points, solidifying a three-point cushion over the Toronto Maple Leafs in third in the Atlantic.
Your Panthers are back in action on Thursday, February. 6 at 7 P.M. against the Vegas Golden Knights to begin a two-game homestand.