Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers are shut out by Blue Jackets 4-0

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, right, checks Florida Panthers forward Frank Vatrano during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, March 22, 2018.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, right, checks Florida Panthers forward Frank Vatrano during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, March 22, 2018. AP

For the Florida Panthers, each game down the stretch has that postseason feel. It does for the Columbus Blue Jackets as well.

On Thursday, the hottest teams in the NHL met up with Columbus helping its postseason push by shutting out the visiting Panthers 4-0.

With the victory, Columbus became the third team in NHL history to have won at least 10 consecutive games in successive seasons after winning 16 in a row last year.

The Panthers remained a point behind the idle New Jersey Devils — with nine games remaining — for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Jackets extended their lead on Florida to eight points as they are now tied in points with Pittsburgh for second in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus has not lost since March 2.

After a tight opening period with Roberto Luongo and Columbus counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky both making big saves, the Blue Jackets struck first early in the second — and kept on coming.

The Jackets took advantage of a Keith Yandle turnover with Artemi Panarin picking it off and feeding Cam Atkinson on the break 59 seconds in.

Columbus kept up the pressure in the Florida zone, making it 2-0 at 3:20 of the period when Florida failed to clear the puck in the corner and Sonny Milano scored on a wrist shot.

The Jackets then took advantage of a power play and made it 3-0 with all three goals coming within a span of five minutes of the second period. Thomas Vanek, who played for Florida last season, scored into an empty net to end it with 2:25 left.

Bobrovsky, meanwhile, shut things down in his cage and earned his fifth shutout of the year and improved to 12-1-2 against the Panthers as he went 3-0 against Florida this season.

The shutout was the 24th of Bobrovsky’s career and his seventh straight win.

Florida dropped to 37-28-7, with 10 games left in the season.

Defenseman Alexander Petrovic returned to Florida’s lineup after missing three of the last four games with a lower-body injury.

The Panthers next opponent is at home against the Arizona Coyotes.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

  Comments