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Big Game Bobrovsky returns for Florida Panthers v. Columbus

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Florida Panthers center Nick Cousins hugs goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky after he made 22 saves in a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets for his first shutout of the season. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE — Sergei Bobrovsky has pretty much owned the Columbus Blue Jackets since leaving for the Florida Panthers in 2019.

Bobrovsky had a 8-2-1 record since leaving his team of six years for the Sunrise Swamp — including a seven-game winning streak which was snapped in what was a horrid November for the Florida netminder.

Bobrovsky said getting a shutout against the Blue Jackets brings no special feeling.

The way things have been going against Bobrovsky these days, getting a shutout against anyone has to feel great right now.

The Panthers needed this one pretty bad.

As did Bobrovsky.

”I’m working on my game and this is a long season,’’ said Bobrovsky, who stopped all 22 shots in Florida’s 4-0 win at FLA Live Arena.

“There are ups and downs, sometimes things don’t go your way. But you have to keep your composure, keep a fresh outlook because every day is a new day. You keep to keep your mind fresh. I look at the next shot. I don’t look ahead and I don’t look in the past.”

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Bobrovsky appears to have bounced back from a rough month in November — which included a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus — with four solid starts as Spencer Knight remains out with an illness.

Although Tampa Bay and Seattle put up eight goals against Bobrovsky over the weekend, those losses were certainly not on him.

Bobrovsky has been playing much better of late with wins in two of his four starts.

In those wins, he has given up a grand total of one goal.

“Bob’s game was real important,’’ Paul Maurice said. “You look at him numbers and say ‘he had an easy night.’ He had an important night. He hasn’t had a lot of breaks around the net so I am happy for him. He earned it over time. We have asked a lot of him and he has delivered.”

The Panthers, who looked so run down in their past two losses, looked much fresher Tuesday despite losing another few players.

Carter Verhaeghe was ruled out with the illness that is sweeping through the locker room as Knight and Anton Lundell also remain out.

Grigori Denisenko was called up and played 13:14 as the Panthers ended up losing both Colin White and Chris Tierney during the game to suspected concussions after big hits.

The Panthers were able to build on their early 1-0 lead courtesy of Brandon Montour’s sixth goal as Matthew Tkachuk and Sasha Barkov both scored in the second.

Sam Reinhart had a nice night by assisting on the first two goals — and then sank the dagger of an empty netter with 1:46 remaining.

Columbus, down 3-0 going into the third, mustered just three shots against Bobrovsky in the final 20 despite trying to claw back into the game.

”It’s always good to get a shutout. It’s good for the goalie and it is good for us,” Barkov said. “We played good defensively and did not let them do much in our zone. Overall it was a good game. Every goal is big … when we play, we want to keep scoring and not sit on any leads. We didn’t sit back.”

The Panthers did not play a perfect game nor a very exciting one on Tuesday.

It was a clean one, however.

And they’ll take that these days.

“This is a team game and we need these points. These were two big points,” Bobrovsky said.

“We keep growing our game and that is good to see. This is the game we needed. We needed to regroup and be refocused. Everyone was ready, everyone grinded. We kept working at this one.”

COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida (22 saves, shutout)

2. Sam Reinhart, Florida (goal, two assists)

3. Sasha Barkov, Florida (goal, assist)

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Penguins lead 54-35-7, 4 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at New Jersey Devils

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