COLUMBUS, Ohio — Early in the third period Thursday night, Blue Jackets fans in the end zone behind the Panthers net began derisively chanting Sergei Bobrovsky’s name.
The Jackets were up by three in the third period after all, so, have some fun!
Problem was, they started their party just a tad prematurely.
Moments after the fans wrapped up their chants, Ryan Lomberg batted a rebound off a Noel Acciari shot past Elvis Merzlikins with just over 13 minutes left to play.
He picked a good time to get his first NHL goal.
It certainly was a big one.
Yet another Florida comeback, turns out, was on.
The Panthers ended up scoring three consecutive goals in the third period to tie up the Jackets and force overtime.
Florida left town with the two-game sweep and its 10th road win of the season after Frank Vatrano scored to give the Panthers a 5-4 win at Nationwide Arena.
“We got that first one at 4-2 and it’s like, ‘hey’,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said.
“We weren’t doing much in that stretch but we had some momentum at 4-2. … You don’t expect to win at that stage of the game, but I like the resiliency, the excitement on the bench. Everyone stuck with it.”
Said Vatrano: “We knew we had the momentum going into overtime and I had a great chance before. I would have lost some sleep if I didn’t bury that second one. It was a great play all the way around.”
Down 4-1 just 4:43 into the third and it looked like this Columbus win was not only in the bag, but the Blue Jackets may even run it up a little.
Instead, Lomberg got Florida going.
”It just shows how much confidence we have in ourselves,’’ Lomberg said. “We didn’t stop. We were down a few there, but we knew if we stayed with it we would slowly chip away at it. Great team win for sure.”
Despite getting a couple of scoring looks on a power play midway through the third, Florida did not score No. 3 until Owen Tippett sniped one past Merzlikins.
Moments later, Michael Del Zotto got called for interference and the Panthers had another shot at the power play.
You just knew Florida would cash in on this one.
Sasha Barkov scored from the right circle with 5:34 left to at least get the Panthers a point in the standings after being down three.
”Great power play, the one before it felt like we were in their zone the whole time,” Quenneville said. “Great finish by Barky.’’
For Columbus, it lamented a lot of lost opportunities on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the Jackets were able to score, firing off its Civil War era-replica cannon four times Thursday night.
Only it was not enough.
Florida trailed 2-0 in the second off a pair of goals from Oliver Bjorkstrand before Patric Hornqvist made it 2-1 by getting his stick in the path of a Gustav Forsling shot and getting it past Merzlikins.
The Jackets got cranking in the third, getting a Patrik Laine power play goal before Max Domi put one through Bobrovsky’s legs and a 4-1 lead.
First period highlights
The Panthers played a nice, tight road game in the first period but Bobrovsky was put to the test a few times.
Two of Columbus’ biggest scoring chances came off the stick of star defenseman Zach Werenski — literally.
Midway through the period, Werenski was on a 2-on-1 and watched the puck hop away from him as he was about to take his shot.
Later, he simply misfired on another odd-man rush.
Florida had a couple scoring chances against Merzlikins early and late in the period.
Owen Tippett only got credit for two shot attempts in the first period but he had at least four in one sequence around the net with 90 seconds remaining.
Florida ended up outshooting the Jackets 8-7 in the period with a 19-15 shot attempt advantage. Again, that may have been a bit low.
Second period highlights
Columbus was all over the Panthers in the second, getting a pair of goals from Bjorkstrand to take a 2-1 lead into the third.
It could have been a lot worse.
Florida had to kill off two penalties which did not help its offensive production which was pretty limited. The Panthers were outshot 15-4 in the second and the Jackets had a 21-8 shot attempt advantage as well.
Bjorkstrand got his first coming off a 2-on-1 with Max Domi. Bobrovsky was frozen when Domi faked the shot and then passed to Bjorkstrand who went top shelf.
Later in the period, Riley Nash fed Bjorkstrand from behind the net as he was sliding through the right circle at 10:14.
Florida finally mustered a little offensive push late in the period and cut its deficit in half when Hornqvist got his stick out in front of a Forsling shot from the top of the slot.
Third period highlights
The Panthers did not do a whole lot with the remainder of the power play chance they had to kick off the third.
Columbus got a shot with the advantage when Alex Wennberg was called for tripping in the offensive zone. With five seconds left in the penalty, Laine whipped a shot from the left circle to make it 3-1.
Just over a minute later, Domi rolled in and scored on a soft shot that Bobrovsky would love to have another shot at.
Down 4-1, Florida made a bit of a comeback when Lomberg batted in a rebound off a Acciari shot at 6:34 of the period.
”I didn’t have time to think about it,” Lomberg said. “But it’s something I will remember for a while, for sure.”
Florida then got another power play chance at 9:20, but did not get anything past Merzlikins.
The Panthers then got two more goals — from Tippett and Barkov — to force overtime.
”When you get one, you see the energy on the bench,” said Tippett, who has two of his three NHL goals this week in Columbus.
”Then another one comes and you have all the momentum. You just have to keep playing the same way.”
UP NEXT: BLACKHAWKS AT PANTHERS
When: Saturday, 7
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise
Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE