23 days after first meeting as opponents, Johnny Hockey and Matt Tkachuk led their respective teams into a clash at FLA Live Arena. The Jackets arrived with a 2-game win streak and without Coach Larsen, who didn’t arrive in the Sunshine State until 3:00PM day-of. Would they be able to escape with both? Let’s find out!
Blue Jackets held their own in the first part of the frame, creating a surprising number of chances early off the rush. Erik Gudbranson kicked it off with some strangely beautiful deking, followed by Gus Nyquist being stuffed on a 2-on-1, and a partial breakaway for Patrik Laine. Former Jacket Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all three. Eventually, the Jackets’ struggle to clear the zone bit them, as Brandon Montour got a slapper through Elvis Merzlikins and a Matt Tkachuk screen.
PANTHERS GOAL - Brandon Montour from Forsling and Reinhart - 9:04 1st Period
Shortly after, Gudbranson would be nabbed for hooking, a penalty the Jackets somehow managed to kill off despite being unable to clear the zone while icing was legal. With the Panthers puching for a second goal, Columbus pushed back, with Laine pinging a wicked wrister off the post, and Yegor Chinakhov shooting the rebound just wide. The Laine-Roslovic-Chinakhov line was cranking it out throughout the first, but Jack would block a shot off his knee in the final minute and head to the dressing room.
Roslovic took the opening draw to start the middle frame, so good to see him back. Despite Johnny Gaudreau and Jake Christiansen having early chances, it’d be Matt Tkachuk who scored next. Boone Jenner lost the offensive zone draw, then as the Panthers came down on the attack, lost Tkachuk, who easily buried it past Elvis.
PANTHERS GOAL - Matt Tkachuk from Reinhart and Barkov - 3:47 2nd Period
After the goal, the penalty train pulled into the station. Tkachuk went after Christiansen when the latter popped Chris Tierney, and got called for roughing. The Blue Jackets were unable to generate anything vaguely resembling offense. Recognizing the lack of any threat, Tkachuk immediately took another penalty upon his release, this time for holding. Slightly better, but still no dice, and Vladislav Gavrikov took his turn once once the kill was completed.
Once the penalty train departed, the game returned to an even, back-and-forth state until the two minute mark. The Florida Panthers then remembered that they were in fact, the Florida Panthers. First, Aleksander Barkov nearly got a goal not dissimilar to Gaudreau’s OT winner Sunday, but the puck stayed out. After a post-scrum whistle brought on by Brandon Montour deciding whistles were option, the Cats turned on the jets, dominating the Jackets for the rest of the frame, peaking in an actual Barkov goal with under a minute to go.
PANTHERS GOAL - Aleksander Barkov from Forsling and Tkachuk - 19:16 2nd Period
Columbus went into the locker room down 3-0. Of note, Tkachuk was visibly shaken heading into the locker room for the intermission.
The First Period was unlucky. The Second Period was bad. The Third Period was just plain boring.
Sean Kuraly and Eric Robinson had an early chance they couldn’t connect on, and then it was mostly teams trading zone entries with few chances in between. To give you an idea, the teams would combine for nine shots in the final frame. The CBJ would fail to capitalize on a Montour tripping penalty, Kuraly would take a penalty to practically ice it, and Reinhart would get the empty netter to officially ice it.
PANTHERS EMPTY NET GOAL - Sam Reinhart unassisted - 18:14 3rd Period.
Sergei Bobrovsky got a shutout against his former team, and the Jackets impressive win streak would end at 2 games.