Panthers Lose Lead Late, Fight Back & Beat Columbus In OT

SUNRISE, FL – In what looked to be an absolute romp for the Florida Panthers over the Columbus Blue Jackets early on, the team from Ohio wouldn’t go down without a fight and made things interesting late in the game.

Being down 3-0 is a big hill to climb in the NHL, but not only did Columbus tie the game up, they took the lead late as well.

Because of that, we got to see the emergence of the Comeback Cats as the Panthers tied it up late and sent it to overtime to earn an unexpectedly hard-fought W by a score of 5-4.

“We’ve generated an awful lot of offense lately that’s not going,” said head coach Paul Maurice postgame.“This is our first five-goal game here this year, and we haven’t given that much up but it looks dangerous right now. Anyway, we’re taking the win.”

A Whirlwind Of A First Period

In the first seven minutes of the game, Florida fans got to see some of the best hockey the Panthers have played in a while, with pure dominance on offense as Columbus couldn’t find center ice at all. At one point, the Cats led in shots on goal 20 to 1 over the Blue Jackets, and the goals rolled in.

After an onslaught of shots, a followup wrister by Ryan Lomberg sank the first goal of the day. Then, less than a minute later, a slap shot snipe by Gustav Forsling doubled up the goals for Florida.

The third goal of the day was sunk by the captain, Aleksander Barkov, on another followup opportunity catching the Blue Jackets goaltender off guard. It was a special night for Barkov with the team celebrating his recent history of 672 games played a Panther, a franchise record, along with a convenient bobblehead giveaway, all eyes were on Sasha.

The atmosphere in the Amerant Bank Arena felt like a blowout was on the horizon. Florida kept up the pressure and had some excellent opportunities to add on to their lead, including two straight shots that bounced off the post.

But the tide shifted 13 minutes in, with a gassed Panthers team now playing defense, and Columbus starting to heat up. They hadn’t taken many shots all game, but the ones they did at this point were critical.

Before the first period wrapped up, the Blue Jackets got two goals back off a wrister in the 15th minute, and a snap shot in the 18th minute. A 3-0 lead vanished into a one-score affair before you knew it.

The Blue Jackets Didn’t Back Down

Unlike the first period, the second flew by rather quickly and was a bit more even when it came to puck possession. Both teams had their opportunities, but Columbus found success after a delaying penalty was called on Florida, and a backhand shot fell by Sergei Bobrovsky, who happened to be going against his former team. Just like that, this game was tied.

The game slowly turned more and more physical as both teams exchanged more and more hits, but even with a cross-checking penalty called on Columbus, the Panthers continued their power play woes and headed to intermission tied 3-3.

Period #3 began with a bang as tempers boiled over as we had an all-out brawl that ended with two Panthers in the penalty box and only one for Columbus, giving them a man advantage much to the chagrin of the Florida faithful.

The Cats defense held on, and a stalemate ensued for the next 10 minutes, until the Blue Jackets got their big break. A wrister off a faceoff caught Bobrovsky off guard, and for the first time all game, Columbus had a lead.

As some fans made a dash for the exits, Florida was in panic mode as they took control on offense but could not find an open shot. With two minutes to go, they took out Bobrovsky in exchange for an extra attacker.

And as luck would have it, they got their equalizer off another wrist by Nick Cousins with 57 seconds to spare. So we headed to overtime, when Florida matched their offensive firepower in the beginning of the game when a blocked shot by Anton Lundell  found its way to Carter Verhaeghe, who did what he seems to do best – come up big in the clutch.

“It’s Awesome,” said Verhaeghe postgame. “Always putting the puck in the back of the new is good for the confidence. Obviously there were some things that weren’t working with getting pucks through to the net quicker.”

Not Going Quietly Into The Night

As far as offense goes, the Panthers put a hurting on Columbus with 46 shots and 11 takeaways. However, the Blue Jackets put a physical hurting on Florida with 28 hits compared to eight.

Almost everyone got at least one shot in for the Cats, but Matthew Tkachuk and Forsling led the way with seven each. While Sam Reinhart didn’t get a shot in  the net, he still collected two assists on the night.

Against his former squad, Bobrovsky was a bit shaky giving up four goals, but he still recorded 19 saves with three of them coming during power plays.

With the win, Florida’s record improves to 6-4-1. They’ll head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Their next home game is right after – an Eastern Conference Final rematch against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, November 10th at 7pm.

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