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Game 4 Breakdown: Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Florida Panthers 2 (SO)



Panthers Columbus

If the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets play, expect a close game — and one that, at least this season which will go to the shootout.

On Thursday night, the second meeting between the two teams went into extras as did the first on Tuesday.

This time, it was the Blue Jackets getting the extra point as Alexandre Texier scored in the fourth round and Patric Hornqvist was stopped giving Columbus a 3-4 win.

The Blue Jackets ran their consecutive home point streak against the Panthers to 16 games (14-0-2) while Florida saw its three-game winning streak to open a season come to a close.

”They were better than they were the other night,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said of Columbus.

“It was a hard-fought game, there were positives that came out of the game.”

The Panthers did get seven of the first eight available points to start their season after four games were postponed due to Covid-19.

They head to Detroit this weekend at 3-0-1.

“That was a gritty effort there, (Columbus) came out harder than they did Tuesday and definitely upped their game,” goalie Chris Driedger said.

“It was a gritty, hard-fought game. … Getting seven of eight points in the first four games is a huge start for us.”

Florida trailed 1-0 going into the second period but Carter Verhaeghe tied it with his fourth goal in as many games since joining the Panthers.

Down 2-1 in the third off Max Domi’s power play goal, Eetu Luostarinen tied it for Florida when he cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Anthony Duclair.

Driedger, starting in place of Sergei Bobrovsky, made 29 saves and stopped the first three shooters he faced in his first NHL shootout.

Elvis Merzlikins, playing Florida for the fourth time in his career, made 33 saves not including all four in the shootout in which he stopped Duclair, Jonathan Huberdeau, Frank Vatrano and Hornqvist.

PREVIOUS GAME: Florida Panthers 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (SO)

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Now, on to the game breakdown from Thursday night:

First period highlights

Columbus came out playing a much faster, more aggressive game although it was Florida which continued to push the offensive play from the start.

Hornqvist, hero of Game 1, got a shot off on his initial shift with Sasha Barkov and Duclair also challenging Merzlikins in the early going.

Columbus had a great scoring chance snuffed out when Seth Jones’ shot off a Zach Werenski pass was clipped by Aaron Ekblad and flew out of harms way.

Late in the first, however, the Panthers couldn’t slow Mikko Koivu who came in late and scored off a pass from Eric Robinson to make it 1-0 at 17:03 of the period.

No All-Star Weekend, but how about a Florida Panthers Mailbag?

Columbus, outshot and outchanced by a large margin Tuesday, ended up with a 12-9 shot advantage in the first period Thursday.

The Jackets also outchanced Florida 23-15 in the opening 20.

Second period highlights

The Panthers opened on the penalty kill after Keith Yandle was called for clearing the puck over the glass near the end of the first.

Florida had the best look of the Jackets’ power play with Barkov getting loose and firing a shorthanded shot at Merzlikins.

The Panthers had a couple of chances to tie the score with Noel Acciari and Hornqvist getting good looks and a long possession time with two Columbus defenders missing their sticks was also a great chance as Florida got off four shots.

Florida finally did knot things at 1 at 17:14 when Duclair got possession and drove in. Marzlikins couldn’t handle the shot, Verhaeghe cleaned it up and it was 1-1.

The Panthers got a late power play chance of their own but some deft penalty killing by the Jackets — especially Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno — held the Panthers to one shot.

Florida outshot the Jackets 15-13 in the second as the two kept it close.

Third period highlights

Vatrano and Luostarinen both had early scoring chances for the Panthers before the game went to 4-on-4 off an odd penalty.

It appeared Werenski held Duclair, only both were called for infractions.

In the final seconds of that 4-on-4, Huberdeau slashed Liam Foudy, and the Jackets got a power play chance.

Domi, who earlier traded some blows with Huberdeau, gave the Jackets a 2-1 lead by scoring off the face-off win with a one-timer past Driedger at 6:21.

It was only the second power play goal for Columbus this season and it came in its eighth game.

Columbus got another power play chance at 7:57 when Florida was caught with too many skaters on the ice, but the big scoring chance came when Luostarinen fed Barkov whose shot was blocked in front by Foligno.

At 12:57 of the third, Luostarinen got in front and cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Anton Stralman to tie the game at 2.

It was the second goal of the young season for Luostarinen who got one assist in eight NHL games with Carolina last season.

With 2:42 left, Duclair had another big scoring chance, unloading on a puck that Merzlikins pulled in.

In the final seconds of the third, Vatrano got run face-first into the wall. After being down for a few moments, he got up and skated off seemingly OK.

OT highlights

Atkinson gave Columbus an early chance to win it when he blasted a shot that went off the post 28 seconds into the extra session.

With 1:45 left, Duclair left a drop pass to Luostarinen whose backhanded shot in front of Merzlikins was stopped.

— Defenseman Gustav Forsling left the game in the second period and did not return.

Quenneville said it was an upper-body injury and described his status as day-to-day.

Up next for the Panthers

Saturday: At Detroit, 7 p.m.; Sunday: At Detroit, 5 p.m.

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