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Bobrovsky, Stolarz Lead the Florida Panthers Shut Out Machine

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Bobrovsky
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, pictured here in the Stanley Cup Final on June 5, got his second shutout in three games on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers picked up their second-straight shutout victory with a 4-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

The kicker?

They had two different goalies in net for each of them.

Just 48 hours after his good buddy Anthony Stolarz blanked the Ottawa Senators, Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside all 25 shots against his former team.

“It’s huge,” Evan Rodrigues said. “It gives our defensemen the confidence to step up, and when the puck gets by them, they know ‘Bobby’ or ‘Stolie’ are back there to make big saves for us.

“They have been incredible all year long and I couldn’t be happier for both of them.”

The Panthers extended their point streak to four games (3-0-1) after ending one of their most grueling stretches of the season and are starting to look a lot more like themselves.

They had a handle on the game quickly — with Matthew Tkachuk scoring just 47 seconds in with a shot from the top of the circle with a defender tight on him — and had a firm hold on the lead.

Florida outshot Columbus 45-25, led 42-17 in scoring chances and 18-6 in high-danger chances.

It also controlled the puck for a large majority of the game.

“The guys worked hard,” Bobrovsky said. “Sometimes, it’s not easy to play in those games, you know? But I thought the guys did a great job. They did the right things, played a great game and had a lot of offense.”

But despite the lack of quantity or quality chances, Bobrovsky made himself known.

He stopped all four high-danger shots he faced resoundingly, and after all of them, the crowd responded the same way.

Chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” echoed throughout the arena all night.

“The fans here are unbelievable,” Bobrovsky said. “I appreciate everyone for the support they’ve given to me this year. It’s fantastic to play at home.”

The buzz in the building, and on the ice, felt playoff ready.

“That’s energy and juice. We scored four goals tonight and put up 45 shots,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“We played a smart hockey game. Everybody can feel the playoffs coming. I have no concern about our energy levels for the playoffs or the intensity of it. None. And that goes back to training camp. We’ve been preparing for this for the entire year. They’ve been waiting for it over the last almost month for it to come. They’re going to be ready.”

But for a while, it looked like a heated goaltending battle between Sergei Bobrovsky and Jet Greaves.

After allowing a goal on the game’s first shot, Greaves stopped the next 25 before Evan Rodrigues tapped in a feed from Anton Lundell with 2:35 to go in the second period.

Sam Reinhart added his 54th goal of the season with 54 seconds to go in the period to put the game well out of Columbus’ reach.

Bobrovsky’s 10-save second period was key in allowing the Panthers to blow the game open and sink in the dagger.

Vladimir Tarasenko muscled his way to a Gus Forsling rebound and slid it in on his backhand as he was getting cross-checked from behind to make it a 4-0 game with 2:17 to go.

Bobrovsky’s shutout ties him for the league lead with Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram and Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry with six.

“I think the defensive part is very important in the playoffs,” Tarasenko said. “We are trying to get ready for those games we have left. Our goalies have done a great job. Bob did a great job tonight.”

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ON DECK

BUFFALO SABRES @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports SUN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Buffalo: Panthers 4, Sabres 0 (Feb. 15). At Florida: Panthers 3, Sabres 2 (Feb. 28); Saturday.
  • Last Season: Florida won 3-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 56-45-8, 4 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers — Regular-Season Finale: Tuesday vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.

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