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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Panthers

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets



WATCH: Ryan Johansen 3rd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH

GAME AUDIO: Ryan Johansen nets a 3rd period PP goal to put us up 3-2! | LISTEN

WATCH: Mark Letestu 2nd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH

The Jackets were guilty of a poor start to the second period, taking some penalties and allowing Florida to generate some momentum before giving up a goal to Jimmy Hayes early in the second. Florida's lead was short-lived, however, as Mark Letestu responded with a power play goal for the Jackets midway through the second period. Bobrovsky had to be good in the second period, as the Jackets' heavy advantage in shots on goal was erased in the frame and the Panthers controlled long stretches of play. An important third period is coming up for Columbus, and they'll want to re-establish their game when the puck drops on the final 20 minutes of the regular season. 

Mark Letestu ties it up at two in the second! | LISTEN

FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Kind of an up-and-down period for the Jackets, who scored early and controlled the game but let their guard down on a five-minute power play...and as a result, they're tied 1-1 with the Panthers after 20 minutes at the BB&T Center. Cam Atkinson scored in the opening minute on a delayed penalty (off a great pass from Brandon Dubinsky), and the Jackets had plenty of chances to increase their lead along the way. But a turnover at the blue line resulted in a shorthanded break for Panthers rookie Vince Trocheck, and he backhanded one through Bobrovsky's pads to make it 1-1 late in the period. Shots are 18-9 (yes, that's correct) favoring the Jackets.

Cam Atkinson 1st period goal | CLICK TO WATCH

GAME AUDIO: Cam Atkinson scores to make it 1-0 early in the first | LISTEN

The Blue Jackets shuttled south after last night's game in Tampa, and are in Sunrise for tonight's regular season finale against the Panthers. The team is not expected to hold a formal morning skate, but we'll have complete coverage for you here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Panthers, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!

They're still in the mix for a couple of different playoff match-ups, so you can expect the Blue Jackets to take a similar approach as they did last night in Tampa. The Panthers are playing out the string, but Columbus needs its business-like approach intact to try and keep moving up the standings.

Expect the same six defensemen as were used last night, but there could be changes up front for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky is the Jackets' starter in net vs. the Panthers. 

The Blue Jackets got out to a slow start in Tampa last night, something they don't want to do two nights in a row.

With playoff seeding still undecided and match-ups yet to be determined, there's plenty of incentive for Columbus to take care of business in its regular season finale tonight and pick up two valuable points before the bell rings. The Panthers, chock full of young players and guys playing for jobs next season, have one final audition for management and they will be a motivated group in their home finale.

Much like last night, discipline is a key factor for the Blue Jackets. While the Panthers' power play has struggled mightily this season, spending a significant portion of the game shorthanded does nothing but take the Jackets out of their four-line rhythm, shortening their bench and letting the opposition use its best players more often. 

So the Cliff Notes version is to keep the game simplified - much like they did in Dallas on Wednesday - get the puck deep, work the defense and establish their disruptive forecheck early in the game. The Panthers, prone to turnovers all year long, will give up the puck and it's up to the Jackets to take advantage of their mistakes. Luckily for Columbus, that's right up its alley and something they can manage one more time in the regular season. 

After a night off in Tampa, Bobrovsky gets the call between the pipes for Todd Richards and the Blue Jackets. After tonight's game in Sunrise, Columbus has a few days off before beginning its first round series in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 


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