COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Struggling to score goals and with several important offensive players sidelined, the Columbus Blue Jackets pulled out a gritty win — just the way coach John Tortorella wants his team to play.
Josh Anderson scored the deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout, lifting the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.
“That scratching, clawing, spitting, biting doing everything you can to win the game, we did it,” Tortorella said.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Jared McCann’s attempt to secure the win for the Blue Jackets, who also got goals from Artemi Panarin and Jack Johnson in the tiebreaker. Aleksander Barkov, who tied the score with 1:34 left in the third period, and Mike Matheson scored in the shootout for Florida.
“It was a good point,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said after his team lost its third straight. “It was a hard fought point against a real good hockey club. Both teams had good goaltending. We’ve just got to take this and move on.”
Nick Foligno and rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois scored power-play goals for Columbus — just the second time this season the NHL’s worst man-advantage unit has come through twice, and both against Florida. Bobrovsky, who took an errant stick under his chin in the final period, had 42 saves through overtime to help the Blue Jackets win for just the fourth time in 11 games (4-6-1).
“We threw a lot of pucks at them and we were able to get a couple big power play goals,” Columbus forward Boone Jenner said.
Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers and James Reimer stopped 46 shots. Florida’s streak has followed a five-game winning streak to close December.
Reimer was clutch in the third period, keeping his team within one goal while making several tough saves in the opening few minutes and later turning aside a breakaway by Dubois.
“He gave us a chance and he definitely was a big part of us getting a point,” Boughner said of Reimer, who made his 14th straight start. “You always wish you had two. We had some great chances in overtime and it would have been nice to win it for him.”
With the Panthers trailing late in regulation and the teams skating 4-on-4, the puck deflected off the skate of Foligno to Barkov, who slammed it past Bobrovksy for his 13th to even the score.
“The third period I thought we played really well and we just couldn’t score a third goal,” Tortorella said. “And you knew it was going to happen (that Florida would tie the game).”
Foligno opened the scoring at 9:47 of the first period, wristing a rebound from the slot over Reimer’s glove for his first in 11 games.
Huberdeau made it 1-1 just 31 seconds into the second period on the power play with his 15th, a redirection near the crease on pass from Barkov. Huberdeau has scored six times in his last seven games.
Later in the period, Jones zipped a pass from the right side that Dubois tapped in for his ninth on a bang-bang play.
“Our power play hasn’t been working this year but I think in our past couple games we’re getting closer and closer,” Dubois said.
NOTES: Columbus is still without injured forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg. … Florida RW Radim Vrbata missed his fifth consecutive game because of an illness. …The Blue Jackets are 17-4-3 when scoring first. … The Panthers, completing the first half of their 82-game schedule, had gone seven contests without a power-play goal.