The Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena on Thursday evening for the third and final time this season. After dropping the first two, the Jackets were looking to avoid the season sweep against the Panthers, who came into the game six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It was evident that the Florida Panthers arrived with a plan to come out quick on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night when they appeared to score less than four minutes into the hockey game. After getting his leg caught up with Sergei Bobrovsky’s pads causing Bob to fall down, Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau collected a rebound and sent the puck across the line to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Not so fast.
The CBJ challenged the call on the ice, claiming there was goaltender interference that led to the goal. After further review, the referees agreed, waiving off the goal and returning the score to 0-0.
The Panthers continued to get good looks on goal as the first continued, but the Jackets started playing a little better in the second half of the period. It was Florida, however, that struck first (for real this time) with just 1:45 remaining in the period. Bobrovsky was sprawled out on the ice after making a diving stop to his right on Thomas Vanek. Vanek proceeded to circle behind the net and found Jonathan Marchessault in front. With Bobrovsky still down, Marchessault got a couple shots off and finally sent one home to put the Panthers on top 1-0. The first period would end with the same score.
It was the Blue Jackets who came out early and often in the second period. They seemed to consistently get odd-man rushes and good scoring chances, but Panthers goalie James Reimer stood tall.
Around the half-way point of the second period as a CBJ power play was expiring, a wild Sam Gagner shot attempt sprung Panthers winger Colton Scevior all by himself on a breakaway. Sergei Bobrovsky remained calm and sent the shot aside in what ultimately could have been the turning point of the game.
You gotta be patient, you gotta wait for the right chance, and we did that tonight.
That’s how Josh Anderson described the Jackets’ mindset on Thursday night. That chance finally came with 4:05 remaining in the period. From just outside the faceoff circle to Reimer’s right, Zach Werenski beat the goaltender with a wicked wrist shot to tie the game up at one.
The Jackets weren’t done there. With 38.5 seconds left in the second period, Josh Anderson deflected a Jack Johnson shot past Reimer to give the CBJ a 2-1 lead.
The one-goal lead would hold for the remainder of the game.
After going down 1-0 in the first period and still coming away with two points, head coach John Tortorella described Thursday’s game:
They’re not all going to be by two or three goals, or pretty…It’s a good win at this time of year for us.
The Blue Jackets increased their franchise record point total to 96 and passed the Pittsburgh Penguins to claim second place in the division in the process. Don’t look now, but the CBJ are within two points of the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals with one game in hand. The Jackets will be right back at it on Saturday afternoon as they head to Brooklyn to take on the New York Islanders.