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game recap

Merzlikins, Blue Jackets overcome Bobrovsky, Panthers in OT

Extend point streak to nine with shutout for goalie's seventh straight win

by Craig Merz / Independent Correspondent

Werenski scores overtime winner

FLA@CBJ: Werenski rifles in overtime winner in close

Zach Werenski gains control of the puck along the boards, skates to the front of the net and scores to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 overtime win

  • 00:34 •

COLUMBUS -- Zach Werenski scored at 1:54 of overtime, and Elvis Merzlikins made 32 saves when the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 1-0 at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

"I made a move out of the (right) corner," Werenski said. "The guy kind of went the wrong way, gave me some space. I saw Cam [Atkinson] (at the) back door, and both guys went to him, and I saw an opening short side and shot it."


[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Blue Jackets highlights]


Merzlikins got his seventh straight win and fourth shutout of his rookie season, and the Blue Jackets (29-16-9) extended their point streak to nine games (8-0-1). They lead the New York Islanders by one point for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

"The fun is that we're winning," he said. "We just have to keep doing the same job that we are doing now."

Bobrovsky made 44 saves for the Panthers (29-17-5), who are 7-1-1 in their past five games and lead the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division. 

"We still had the one point, which is a good thing," he said. "We put it behind us and move on. It's already done. There's nothing we can do about it. The biggest game is the next one."

Bobrovsky made his third start against Columbus since signing a seven-year contract with Florida on July 1 after playing the previous seven seasons with the Blue Jackets, including winning the Vezina Trophy in 2013 and 2017. He made 33 saves in a 4-1 victory against the Blue Jackets at BB&T Center on Dec. 7 and 24 saves in a 4-1 loss here Dec. 31. 

Werenski scored three goals in the second game. He has 16 goals, tying the Blue Jackets record for most by a defenseman in a single season; he and Seth Jones did it in 2017-18.

Video: EA Sports Overtime Winners: Beauvillier, Werenski

Columbus had a goal by Boone Jenner overturned at 6:06 of the first period after Florida coach Joel Quenneville challenged for goalie interference. Atkinson got his stick up high while trying to tip Jenner's shot and interfered with Bobrovsky.

"It was pretty clear," Bobrovsky said. "Cam was there. I think his stick got stuck in my glove. I couldn't play the puck."

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella wasn't convinced.

"You know how [Bobrovsky] makes those (saves). He shrugs," Tortorella said. "I thought Bob played it really well. He went right to the ref. Cam did hit his glove. I'm not so sure Bob is making that save with his glove if Cam doesn't hit it."

Quenneville said the result was good considering the Panthers were coming off a 5-3 comeback win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

"It was a good point, and I think [Bobrovsky] was very instrumental in that fact," he said. "[The Blue Jackets] played good. They're on an amazing roll."

Tortorella said, "I thought it was one of the better games we played both offensively and defensively. Both teams defended really well. The last two periods we gave them four or five chances."

Video: Merzlikins earns Tuesday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout


They said it

"It's not really an easy building to come into, especially in a back-to-back after last night. It's not an ideal situation, but we came in and battled and did our best. [Bobrovsky] played outstanding to keep us in the game and give us a chance in overtime. We had a couple chances. They had a couple chances, and theirs just went in the back of the net." -- Panthers forward Mike Hoffman

"I feel like a completely different goalie. That's what I was thinking in my head, 'I'm not any more scared of this league, of this hockey, this huge experience.' I'm not thinking about anything more, I'm just leaving my mind free. I'm not thinking to even win the game, I'm thinking to go there and really have fun. That's what is going in my head during the game. I'm trying to enjoy every moment, what the fans are giving, what the game is giving. It's fun, and I just want to keep having fun." -- Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins on his improvement; he is 11-2-0 since starting 0-4-4

Video: FLA@CBJ: Merzlikins stops 32 shots in 1-0 OT victory


Need to know

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury sustained against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. … Florida defenseman Mark Pysyk played his 400th NHL game. … The Blue Jackets are 13-0-1 in their past 14 home games against the Panthers, including seven straight wins. Florida's last win at Nationwide Arena was 2-1 in a shootout on Dec. 4, 2015. Its last regulation win at Columbus was 5-2 on Nov. 21, 2007.


What's next

Panthers: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

Blue Jackets: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, FS-D, NHL.TV)

Video: Werenski, Merzlikins lead Blue Jackets by Panthers

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