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game recap

Werenski, Merzlikins help Blue Jackets defeat Bobrovsky, Panthers

Defenseman scores hat trick, goalie gets first NHL win against former teammate; Columbus point streak at 11

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Werenski's first NHL hat trick

FLA@CBJ: Werenski earns first career NHL hat trick

Zach Werenski opens the scoring for the Blue Jackets, then adds two more goals in the 3rd period to record his first career NHL hat trick

  • 03:34 •

COLUMBUS -- Zach Werenski scored his first NHL hat trick when the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their point streak to 11 games with a 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers and former teammate Sergei Bobrovsky at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

"It was one of those things where it would have been awesome to score on any goalie three goals," Werenski said. "It just so happened it was [Bobrovsky], a guy I was pretty close with for a few years here, sat next to in the locker room, but I'm just happy we got a win tonight."

Elvis Merzlikins, playing in place of injured Joonas Korpisalo, made 36 saves for his first NHL win. The Blue Jackets (18-14-8) are 7-0-4 during this streak.

 

[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Blue Jackets highlights]

 

Merzlikins, who is 1-4-4, said Monday he would not talk to the media to concentrate on his play, so the Blue Jackets issued his comments.

"I had 10 (games) to do it, so finally it came," he said. "I really appreciated just seeing my teammates in the last seconds, even at 4-1, they were blocking shots because they knew how important it was for me to get that first win. I'm grateful for them."

Video: FLA@CBJ: Jenner sneaks shot past Bobrovsky for PPG

Bobrovsky made 24 saves in his first game at Nationwide Arena since signing a seven-year contract with the Panthers (20-14-5). He played seven seasons for Columbus.

"All the emotions are weird," he said. "It's tough to describe, to be on the other side of the bench, it's different."

Werenski scored at 4:13 and 8:04 of the third period to make it 4-1. It was the first home hat trick by a Blue Jackets defenseman, third overall.

"It was pretty cool," Werenski said. "After I scored that third goal I kind of looked at the crowd and just saw hats coming down. I've never had that feeling before."

Korpisalo was named to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Monday, the day he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was injured during a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

Merzlikins, who played his 11th NHL game, made his previous eight starts on the road.

"I was really nervous at the start playing at home in front of a big crowd," the 25-year-old said. "It's a little different to play at home than on the road. I felt a little bit more pressure."

Werenski gave Columbus a 1-0 lead at 4:54 of the first period.

Colton Sceviour tied it 1-1 at 3:39 of the second. Boone Jenner made it 2-1 on the power play at 15:34.

"We didn't mind how we were going after 40 minutes," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.

Werenski extended the lead to 3-1 when Florida's challenge for goaltender interference on Nick Foligno was unsuccessful.

"When your goaltender's kickin' like Elvis was tonight, it's tough to get one by him," Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle said. "Sometimes you've got to tip your cap."

Video: Zach Werenski buries three vs Panthers

 

They said it

"Went to my old apartment. Cried a couple of times there. It's tough. Seven years is a lot. Again, I appreciate the organization for what they have done for me. It was a long day. Lots of memories. Lots of good memories, lots of sadness." -- Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky

"He has deserved this one for a while. A couple of games he's played, he stood tall, made good saves, and we didn't find a way to get it done. Tonight, we found a way, and he stood tall for us." -- Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski on goalie Elvis Merzlikins

 

Need to know

Bobrovsky received a standing ovation during a video tribute in the first period. "I didn't pay attention on those things," he said. "I tried to block those things out and focus on one shift at a time and focus on the process." ... The point streak is the fourth-longest in Blue Jackets history. The Columbus record is 18 games (17-0-1, Nov. 25, 2016-Jan. 3, 2017). ... Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau had a six-game point streak end (16 points; five goals, 11 assists). ... Columbus is 12-0-1 in its past 13 home games against Florida, with five straight wins. ... Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. ... Bryan Berard (Jan. 8, 2006, at the Phoenix Coyotes) and Deron Quint (March 9, 2001, at Florida) are the other Columbus defensemen to score a hat trick.

 

What's next

Panthers: At the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Blue Jackets: At the Boston Bruins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, NESN, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Video: Werenski's hat trick powers Jackets past Panthers

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