COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Patric Hornqvist and Owen Tippett scored power-play goals in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves and the Florida Panthers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Juho Lammikko and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four games. Bobrovsky played one of his best games of the year, holding firm during a late Columbus push and stopping 16 shots in the third period.
“He was unreal tonight,” Lammikko said. “A lot of huge saves, especially in the third. He gets the lead, and it was fun to watch him. It was awesome.”
Bobrovsky, the former Blue Jacket, improved to 9-2-2 while splitting time in the net this season with Chris Driedger.
“I like the way he’s progressing here over these stretches of games here, and that was his best,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.
Michael Del Zotto and Oliver Bjorkstrand had goals for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo stopped 29 shots. Columbus has lost two straight and five of the last seven.
“We had a lot of chances,” Columbus forward Cam Atkinson said. “It was one of those nights where we just couldn’t bury it for whatever reason, but I thought we played a pretty decent game.”
Lammikko got his third goal of the season 4:59 into the game when he got in front of trailing Columbus defender Gabriel Carlsson and beat Korpisalo between the pads. Hornqvist got credit for a power-play goal early in the second when he deflected in Aaron Ekblad’s slap shot from the right circle.
Del Zotto got Columbus on the board later in the second off a nice spin move and perfect feed from Eric Robinson.
Tippett, just called up from the taxi squad earlier in the day, gave the Panthers a two-goal lead when he scored on a power play late in the second, a hard shot from the right point that beat a screened Korpisalo.
“(I) hated how how soft we were in the second period defensively,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Bjorkstrand tipped in a goal off a Zach Werenski pass to make it a one-goal game at 11:38 of the third, but Bobrovsky withstood a Blue Jackets power play and Verhaeghe got an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left to seal it.
Quenneville said the Panthers played a horrible third period and likely escaped because of Bobrovsky.
“We’re fortunate tonight we came out of there with the win,” he said.
Bobrovsky played seven years in Columbus and won a pair of Vezina Trophies. “It’s a lot of time here, and a piece of my heart is still here, so it’s a great win,” he said.
WHERE THEY STAND
Approaching the season’s halfway point, the Blue Jackets are still searching for consistency, falling to 10-12-5 and failing to win more than two in a row. They’re still in it, though, starting the day six points out of the fourth playoff spot in the Central Division. Florida, which started the day in the third spot and improved to 16-5-4, has a couple three-game win streaks but has yet to lose more than two straight.
Panthers: D Markus Nutivaara, a former Blue Jacket, was activated from injured reserve after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury. … Hornqvist got his sixth power-play goal.
Blue Jackets: Before their second-period goal, the Blue Jackets had allowed nine unanswered goals over a three-game stretch. … F Jack Roslovic played his 200th career NHL game. … G Elvis Merzlikins, who missed seven games with a shoulder injury, was activated from injured reserve but sat as the backup to Korpisalo, who has started the last eight in a row.
The teams wrap up a two-game series on Thursday night in Columbus.
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