|Blue Jackets (13-22-3)||0||1||1||2|
|@ Panthers (20-12-4)||2||0||1||3|
- After the Blue Jackets had some zone time to start the game, the Panthers quickly took over. Huberdeau had a nice deke to get around a defender, but his early scoring opportunity was thwarted by Curtis McElhinney.
- The Panthers’ first goal came when a Vincent Trocheck wrist shot rebounded off the post to Aaron Ekblad at the right point who put a shot top corner on an unassuming McElhinney. A fight between Alex Petrovic and former Panther Gregory Campbell came several minutes later.
- The Blue Jackets got the first power play thanks to a Willie Mitchell tripping penalty, but were held out of the zone for most of it by the Panthers. Aleksander Barkov had a nice short side shot at the tail end of the penalty, but didn’t connect with the back of the net. Connor Brickley whiffed and fall on a 2-on-1 chance as well, but that would be forgotten by the end of the period.
- The Panthers would have 3 power plays between their first goal and the end of the period, but didn’t score on any of them despite having a 5-on-3 advantage at one point and dominating possession in the offensive zone. Derek MacKenzie had a nice scoring opportunity after a forechecking Logan Shaw dropped a pass back in the slot for the veteran, but he was stopped by McElhinney.
- The Panthers took a 2-goal lead just as the period was about to end after Jonathan Huberdeau found Aleksander Barkov in the slot who rifled a shot past McElhinney after gaining inside positioning on a Columbus defender.
- The Panthers ended the period with 19 shots while Columbus had just 1.
- The Jackets came out with a lot of energy and dominated the offensive zone after being dominated in the first period. The Panthers could barely exit the zone, and when they did, the couldn’t get through the neutral zone and were forced to dump the puck.
- Columbus’s efforts were rewarded when Brandon Saad skated into the corner on the forecheck and put a shot on goal from the goal line which snuck in between the the goal post and Luongo’s pad.
- Saad got another opportunity when the puck was flipped to him in the slot allowing him to get in on a mini breakaway. Luongo bit, but his outstretched right pad denied Saad who tried to outwait him.
- Saad got another breakaway and nearly scored, but he was tripped by Dmitry Kulikov and forced the Panthers to go on the penalty kill. Once again, they shut the Blue Jackets down and kept them out of the offensive zone for almost the entire man advantage.
- The Panthers had a couple of odd-man rushes including one by Jokinen and Trocheck, but their shot attempt was robbed by McElhinney. They got another when Huberdeau, Trocheck, and Jagr went in 3-on-1, but again, they were stopped by the Columbus net minder.
- The Panthers got a power play with about 3 minutes left in the period and then went on a 5-on-3 advantage for 38 seconds after Columbus was called for another penalty. Brandon Pirri was set up for at least 4 or 5 shots which either sailed wide, were blocked, or were stopped by McElhinney. A net-front scrum which included a Columbus player being sent flying into his goaltender nearly ended in a goal after Erik Gudbranson took a loose puck and backhanded it into the net, but that came after the referee blew his whistle.
- The power play allowed the Panthers to put some shots on the board giving them a total of 8 in the period while Columbus had 9. The Panthers slouched in the first, but their power play allowed them to regain some momentum after the Blue Jackets controlled most of the period.
- The first several minutes of the period consisted of some back and forth action between both team. The Panthers went on their 6th power play of the game, but couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone.
- Aleksander Barkov scored his 2nd goal of the night on a sweet cross-ice feed from Jonathan Huberdeau thanks to a 2-on-1 rush.
- The Blue Jackets returned the favor a little while later by scoring on their 4th power play of the game. Cam Atkinson put a big rebound off Luongo top shelf to cut the Panthers’ lead to just one.
- Erik Gudbranson and Scott Hartnell went off for roughing penalties with under a minute left in the period, and the Blue Jackets pulling their goalie made it a close finish. Roberto Luongo made a huge save after a 2-on-1 and a cross-ice pass which would’ve resulted in a sure goal.
Six straight wins. First place in the Atlantic Division. Have a great night.
The Panthers are back in action against the Montreal Canadiens at home on December 29th at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.