Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers nip Blue Jackets 2-1 in shootout for fifth win in row

Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov (16), of Finland, celebrates his winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the shootout Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. The Panthers won 2-1.
Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov (16), of Finland, celebrates his winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the shootout Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. The Panthers won 2-1. AP

The Panthers aren’t used to enjoying a long winning streak but found out Friday the puck can go your way when things are going good.

Right now, things are definitely all good with the Panthers.

Friday, despite being outplayed in the second half, the Panthers forced overtime and got goals from Jonathan Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shootout.

The victory is Florida’s fifth straight as it closes this five-game road trip Sunday in New Jersey with a chance to get all 10 of the available points.

The Panthers also won at Nationwide Arena for just the third time in franchise history and first time since 2007.

Florida also tied a franchise record for consecutive road wins with five dating to its shootout win in Tampa on Nov. 14. The Panthers last won five straight road games in 2008.

“This was a pesky road game, 1-1, and we hung in there,’’ said backup goalie Al Montoya, who got his first win in six weeks by making 22 saves — not including three in the four-round shootout.

“I was like, ‘Get this into overtime, take it to the shootout. We got this.’ Hats off to these guys. [Columbus] had three games off. There’s no reason we should have been the team on top yet here we are.”

Florida, which has played four games in six days, looked fatigued late but was the aggressor early and grabbed the early lead 1:16 into the second.

The Panthers were at the end of a power play when Vincent Trocheck sent a pass toward Reilly Smith in the slot.

The pass never got to its intented target as it hit Columbus’ Justin Falk and past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

“We’ve run that play a lot,” Trocheck said. “The defenseman went down and we got the bounce. We need those bounces. We’re working real hard and sometimes goals like that go in when you do that.”

Added coach Gerard Gallant: “We were due a goal like that. Those go in when things are rolling for you.”

Columbus eventually tied the score midway through the period on a goal from recent call-up Michael Chaput as the Jackets started to find their footing.

The Jackets, who won 40 of 64 faceoffs and ended up out-hitting and chancing the Panthers, came strong throughout the third.

With 5:56 left, Brandon Pirri got nailed for a high stick, with Willie Mitchell joining him in the box not long after.

Florida’s penalty kill has been surpurb of late and was again Friday as the Panthers killed off the extended power play and forced overtime.

“To kill off back-to-back penalties at the end of a game like that was huge,” said Gallant, whose team has killed off 15 consecutive penalties and 23 of its past 25.

“Give the grinders credit; they got in the way. The penalty kill did a real good job.”

The Panthers had a chance to win in overtime after the Jackets got called for having too many on the ice. Florida couldn’t cash in on the 4-on-3 chance but did in the shootout.

Florida was down to its last shooter when Huberdeau tied it to force a fourth round. Barkov, who tallied the shootout winner last Friday against the Islanders, did so again against the Jackets.

“We got a good point, kept the streak going,’’ Huberdeau said. “We were a little tired, gave them a few too many rushes. But we had a chance and knew we had the shooters, knew we had the guy in net.”

▪ Dmitry Kulikov returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a minor knee injury Nov. 14 in Tampa.

Kulikov replaced Dylan Olsen on the ice with Erik Gudbranson as well as on the roster. Olsen, who was with the Panthers on an emergency recall so he wouldn’t be subject to waivers, was sent back to Florida’s AHL team.

The Panthers also placed defenseman Alex Petrovic, who didn’t travel with the Panthers on this trip, on the injured list.

George Richards: 305-376-4995, @GeorgeRichards

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