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Columbus Blew Jackets lose 4-1 third-period lead, fall in OT


NHL: Florida Panthers at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Making his triumphant return to the net for the first time since Feb. 20, Elvis Merzlikins! His first start since suffering a bone bruise in his arm, he and his Columbus Blue Jackets mates suffered another cruel ending. Read along for the fury.

Old friend-turned-foe Sergei Bobrovsky was back at the opposite net for the Florida Panthers.

Look, after one period the score was tied at zero. Jackets had a few opportunities and I’ll let Brian sum up the period:

Columbus just seems to be gripping the sticks a little bit. Not to get all cliché on you all.

In the second period Columbus didn’t do well on the game’s first power play.

Just after this play:

Columbus did this play!

Oliver Bjorkstrand’s ninth of the season, assisted by Pale Dragon’s bud, and friend of The Cannon, Max Domi, as well as the hometown kid Jack Roslovic, put the home team ahead 1-0.

But if one is good, two is NICE. Bjorkstrand’s second of the period doubled the Blue Jackets lead. Riley Nash found the scoreboard to probably crack a smile on John Tortorella right? Patrik Laine also ended his seven-game pointless drought — which tied a career-long going back to 2018.

Buuut Florida cracked the scoreboard to cut the deficit in half. Patric Hornqvist scored his 18th career goal against Columbus — 11h of the season for career No. 249 — and the play was assisted by Carter Verhaeghe and Gustav Forsling.

I needed to include this GIF of speedy Bjorky for PD.

In the third period, the Blue Jackets started to take control with a couple of quick goals. First Laine ended his seven-game goalless drought shortly after ending the pointless drought with the assist earlier. The power play goal was assisted by Cam Atkinson and Zach Werenski.

Then noted friend of The Cannon Max Domi ended his own eight-game goalless drought, assisted by Borkstrand, grabbing his third point of the night.

The two goals were 1:20 apart. At the 6:34 mark of period three, Florida got the game back within two as Ryan Lomberg scored his first of the season. Noel Acciari had the assist.

Things got too close for comfort when Owen Tippet pulled Florida back within one goal to make it 4-3. His third of the season assisted by MacKenzie Weegar and Mason Marchment.

Remember when the game was 4-1 for a second? The difficulty was jacked up and the game was tied at four in the blink of an eye. Alexsander Barkov added his ninth of the year on the power play with Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle getting assists.

Tied at 4 late with lots of penalty killing in the period, there was this graphic:

He rode the pine the final 6:53 of the third period.

In overtime we saw this again:

Elvis made some great stops but alas Florida found the game-winner as you can imagine would be the case, a 5-4 win for the Panthers. Frank Vatrano’s ninth was the winner, with Aaron Ekblad and Huberdeau getting the helpers.

No Laine in overtime?

Merzlikins made 27 saves on 32 shots. Bobrovsky made 28 on 32. Here’s some fancy stats from Natural Stat Trick!

Columbus entertains the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena on Saturday and Sunday at 5 PM EST.

Additional Notes

Vladislav Gavrikov missed the game after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand co-led the game with five shots. Jonathan Huberdeau and Frank Vatrano also have five apiece. Zach Werenski played a Blue Jackets high 24:42. Nick Foligno led the forwards (20:21). Aaron Ekblad played a game-high 29:59. Alexsander Barkov led the forwards 22:32.