The Columbus Blue Jackets were the hottest team in the East coming into tonight, but their struggles against the Florida Panthers this season are well documented. With Zach Werenski out day-to-day, they were also without their best defenseman. Would they be able to overcome more adversity and continue their strong play?
The pace was quick to start the game. Both teams traded chances, but there was nothing too challenging for either goalie. The Jackets were able to match the Panthers’ intensity — so far so good.
Unfortunately, the good wouldn’t last too much longer. An all too familiar bad clearing attempt, against Florida’s top line, led to a Barkov to Weegar goal that Berube didn’t have much of a chance at saving.
FLA Goal 1-0: Weegar (Barkov, Verhaeghe) 8:33
Gavrikov went off for interference shortly after, but a strong kill by the Jackets kept it a one goal game.
The Panthers started making it very hard for the Jackets to get through the neutral zone. Luckily, a turnover went the Jackets’ way with five minutes left in the period. Voracek found Laine off the rush and the point streak was extended to eleven games — his thirteenth goal in that same span.
CBJ Goal 1-1: Laine (Voracek) 15:05
The Panthers got their second power play with less than a minute left in the period. Peeke’s stick broke on a clearing attempt, but he didn’t drop it immediately. The young defenseman has made big strides this year, but he really needs to clean up his penalties. Good period for the Jackets nonetheless.
Noteworthy: The first line had a great first period. They won their shot attempt battle 8-3 and potted a goal. They had a goal against, but that’s a pretty good line they were matched up with.
The Jackets were able to easily kill off the rest of the Peeke penalty to start the second. They’d also get their first power play early in the period, but the absence of Werenski and the timing of the penalty had Kukan quarterbacking the second unit to start. That unit couldn’t get into the zone and took away any momentum for the entirety of the two minutes.
The Panthers continued to push, but the Jackets were able to match their intensity and pace. Berube was also having a solid night by staying in position and not giving up any juicy rebounds.
Halfway through the period, Gavrikov threw the puck towards the net and Jenner made a pretty nasty deflection that got in past Johansson. The captain’s career season continues as he scores his 22nd goal and 41st point of the season.
CBJ Goal 2-1: Jenner (Gavrikov) 9:32
The Jackets would go back to the kill with 1:16 left in the period — Gavrikov for tripping. It was yet another questionable call by the officials, something the Blue Jackets have gotten used to over the last couple of games. The period would end with Columbus holding the lead, but not before Jenner got a shorthanded breakaway. Johansson made a nice save to keep it a one goal game.
Noteworthy: The Jackets have been playing a much more physical game as of late. Through two periods, the Jackets led the Panthers in hits 31-18.
The lead increased to two when Bjorkstrand won a board battle, skated behind the net, and then found an open Gabriel Carlsson. The Swede put a one-timer into the back of the net. Commenter Beck Bristow all but predicted this one in the game preview.
CBJ Goal 3-1: Carlsson (Bjorkstrand) 3:12
NHL Video Highlight - Gabriel Carlsson scores against the Florida Panthers to make it 3-1. pic.twitter.com/iOyHYILAUA— Blue Jackets Game Bot (@CBJGameBot) February 25, 2022
A lucky bounce off the boards would help the Panthers cut the lead to one. A dump in by the Jackets hit the corner and bounced right out in front of Berube. Marchment was right there to gather the puck. A drop pass set up Huberdeau for a clean look on Berube.
FLA Goal 3-2: Huberdeau (Marchment, Forsling) 6:52
For what seems like the hundredth time this season, the Jackets immediately went to the kill after a goal against. Voracek went to the box for a retaliatory crosscheck, but luckily the kill was successful.
The momentum from the kill would carry over. Voracek picked up his second assist of the night when he found Sillinger off the rush. The rookie ripped a snapper far side for his eighth of the season.
CBJ Goal 4-2: Sillinger (Voracek) 9:47
NHL Video Highlight - Cole Sillinger scores against the Florida Panthers to make it 4-2. pic.twitter.com/vpuSrajYI4— Blue Jackets Game Bot (@CBJGameBot) February 25, 2022
A point shot from Boqvist just ten seconds later found the stick of Danforth for another deflection goal.
What. Is. Happening?
CBJ Goal 5-2: Danforth (Boqvist) 9:57
NHL Video Highlight - Brendan Gaunce scores against the Florida Panthers to make it 5-2. pic.twitter.com/UQeDy2Nekh— Blue Jackets Game Bot (@CBJGameBot) February 25, 2022
In a gutsy move, the Panthers pulled their goalie with over eight minutes left. It paid off too. The Jackets got hemmed in on the 6-on-5 and Bennett was able to jam the puck across the line off a rebound.
FLA Goal 5-3: Bennett (Barkov, Huberdeau) 13:41
That would be the extent of Florida’s comeback attempt, however. Bjorkstrand would capitalize on an empty net just a few seconds later.
CBJ EN Goal 6-3: Bjorkstrand (Roslovic, Kukan) 14:01
One of the dirtiest hits we’ve seen in a long time occurred with time winding down. Sillinger was going for the empty net goal and Bennett lined him up, didn’t attempt to play the puck, and made contact with the head of Sillinger. The call was charging — no match penalty. That absolutely should have been five minutes. It’s obvious the league doesn’t take headshots seriously, but there has to be a suspension coming for that one. Reminder, Werenski is likely out right now because of a headshot that got no call and no review by the league just one game prior.
A side look at the hit from Bennett on Sillinger in tonight’s CBJ game. pic.twitter.com/1HQ9Ekpr4h— Blue Jackets Highlights (@ThreadsJackets) February 25, 2022
Not much going for the Panthers the rest of the way. Another Jackets victory!
Who are these Blue Jackets and where did they come from? This was a very solid game against one of the Cup favorites. After getting embarrassed by the Panthers twice this season, the Jackets were able to send the Panthers off the ice to a chorus of boos on their home ice.
Berube continues to be solid in net. He didn’t have to make any dazzling saves, but he did a great job of limiting rebounds and was very solid positionally. Going down to their fourth string goalie could end up being a blessing in disguise for this team. It’s forced them to focus on their defensive play in front of the net, which has improved significantly over the last several games.
Total team effort tonight. These Blue Jackets are now winners of nine of their last eleven and sit seven points out of the last wild card.
The Blue Jackets head to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night at 7:00PM ET.