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Post Game: Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 1

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



It just might say something about the state of the team when, minutes after their second consecutive victory, the Blue Jackets' consensus was that they can play much better than they did tonight.

On the other hand, this is a "results business" as they say and the result was a positive one for Columbus: the Blue Jackets scored twice in the first period, got a huge goal late in the second period to stave off a furious push from the Florida Panthers, and picked up a 4-1 win in front of an electric Saturday night crowd at Nationwide Arena. With the win, the Blue Jackets moved back into third place in the Metropolitan Division (60 points) heading into a three-game road trip to California before the Olympic break.

The Jenner-Johansen-Horton line was a big story, and it combined for two goals, six points and a +5 rating - a strong performance in their second game together. 

And despite the final score, this game wasn't a one-sided contest. 

Columbus played a strong first period, putting 13 shots at Tim Thomas and pressuring the Panthers defense. But they came back with a sluggish second period, at times struggling just to get out of their own zone, and it allowed Florida to get back in the game. The Panthers scored midway through the second to make it 2-1, but Nick Foligno's 13th goal of the season could not have come at a better time for the Blue Jackets. 

He skated across the Panthers' blue line and fired a heavy shot through two defenders that seemed to surprise Thomas, who got a piece of it but not all of it, watching it squeak over the goal line and restore a two-goal Columbus lead. Despite being out-shot 15-10 in the second (and at one point, shots were 10-2 for Florida in the middle frame), the Blue Jackets took a two-goal lead into the third period and got a key insurance marker from their fourth line.

Sergei Bobrovsky was "spectacular" in the words of Todd Richards, making 36 saves to record his 11th win in his last 13 games. 

The Blue Jackets - and the crowd of nearly 17,000 in attendance - breathed a huge sigh of relief when Foligno tacked on the third goal late in the second period. Florida had a couple of great chances to draw even but couldn't convert, and on a play that seemed pretty harmless, the Blue Jackets got a huge goal to pad the lead.

"Bob was Bob again tonight," Johansen said post-game, and the head coach agreed. Bobrovsky was very good in the second period and held the fort in the third period. 

His first-period goal gives him 22 on the season and he's starting to gel with Horton and Jenner. That line set the tone for Columbus tonight and is creating its share of chances.

It was a very involved game for Jenner, and he made a dazzling play on a spin-pass to Johansen for the 2-0 goal. Can we call that the Blue Jackets' top line right now? 


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