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Panthers Wrap-Up: Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 0 1 0 1
Blue Jackets 1 1 2 0 4
FLA - T. Kopecky (9)
CBJ - R. Umberger (16), PP - N. Nikitin (6), N. Nikitin (7), EN - R. Umberger (17)
COLUMBUS (AP) - Defenseman Nikita Nikitin scored twice and had an assist, R.J. Umberger also had two goals, and Allen York made 30 saves in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Umberger scored in the first and added an empty-netter with 47 seconds to play..

"You got to trust each other and play. You can't play scared. Nobody's a good player playing that way. We got four games left to pour it on. Everybody knows what's at stake."

- Defenseman Brian Campbell.
1. No Power Here: After finding the back of the net on two of their five powerplays Thursday night in Minnesota, the Panthers had a golden opportunity with three power plays in the first period alone. That included a huge 5-on-3 power play for almost a full two minutes. After RJ Umberger scored 3:41 into the game on a two-on-one rush, Florida racked up 4:20 of power play time. After coming up short on their first opportunity of the night, the Panthers had a two man advantage for 1:40 after Cam Atkinson and Jack Johnson went off twenty seconds apart with Atkinson leading the way 10:53 into the period. Despite some good opportunities and a total of nine shots, Florida couldn't solve Jackets netminder Allen York. Playing in just his ninth NHL game of his career, the netminder looked comfortable despite the heat from the Panthers.

2. Flipping The Script: After getting the power play chances in the first period, it was the Panthers that gave the Blue Jackets their opportunities in the second. In a penalty filled second period, Florida gave Columbus four power play chances and killed off 6:30 of time. Unfortunately one of those chances gave the Blue Jackets a two goal advantage as Nikita Nikitin scored 30 seconds into a too many men on the ice penalty 11:48 into the period. The Panthers, in fact, had two too many men on the ice calls in a span of four minute span. Trying to kill off penalties, the Panthers weren't allowed to attack like they did in the first but they did post 10 shots on net in the period.

3. Not Taking Advantage: This is a tough one. Entering the game, Florida had a 33 point advantage in the standings as Columbus had a league low 57 points on the season. The Blue Jackets came out hard early and often however and put the visitors on their heals for portions of the game. The Jackets increased their lead to three goals as Nikitin scored his second of the night right off a face-off X into the third. Tomas Kopecky got the Cats on the board to give them some hope but Umberger salted away the victory with an empty netter. Florida had a chance to put six points between them and the Washington Capitals as this was their game in hand but just couldn't answer the Blue Jackets.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@todderickearl: I love the panthers as much as everyone but for the god man up! I see red please get to the playoffs! #FlaPanthers

@JagsFan93: This better be the worst it gets, but I have a bad feeling that I'm wrong. Please let me not be wrong. #FlaPanthers

@FloridaShawn: Good luck in Motown #FlaPanthers. You are playing your worst hockey at the worst time.

@parrothead34: We are just playing this bad to keep it interesting, right? Um, right? #FlaPanthers

@Ritter_Matt: So close to the playoffs and the #flapanthers just can't close the deal. Losing way too many games they should be winning.

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Dave Friedlander: Panthers and Caps have 4 games left. Caps need 2 wins just to tie us in points. We needed big wins and played the worst teams, and came out losing. How did we go 5-0 to losing ??? If the team that showed up tonight shows up in Detroit,it's going to be embarrassing.

Daniel Monsignore: The problem is when u play back to back and not having alot of energy tht shouldnt happen since we have not been to the playoffs in ten years. And ps u cant have back to back bench minors awful

Joseph Sensback: Unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE.

Gregory Cordero: The jackets just no doubt wanted this game more than the panthers.. time to prepare for the redwings!

Jacob Price: I'm really hoping we can turn it around Sunday. If this game wasn't a must win then that one will be a must must win


2. Columbus got two goals each from R.J Umberger and Nikita Nikitin in their 4-1 victory. It was Nikitin's first multi-goal game of his career.

9. The Panthers had a large advantage in shots in the opening period, outshooting Columbus 15-6. A majority of that game off of three power play attempts as they put nine shots on Allen York.

14. The Panthers finished up their 14th back-to-back situation of the season in playing Minnesota and Columbus in consecutive nights. Florida was 5-7-2 in the second game of the back-to-back situation.

26. Notching an assist on Tomas Kopecky's third period goal, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov tied his career high in points with 26. Playing in his 54th game of the year, the defenseman tied for the team lead in shots with forward Kris Versteeg with five on the game..

100. Florida had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the first period as they had a 5-on-3 power play advantage for 1:40 after Cam Atkinson and Jack Johnson took penalties 20 seconds apart. Columbus kept them off the board.

Nikita Nikitin
Was an offensive force from the blue line, giving the Jackets a two (power play) and three goal advantage. His first of the night stood as the winner.

 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 2 Shots, +2, 24:18 TOI
The Panthers conclude their four-game road trip with a Sunday matinee game (4pm start) in Detroit. Florida hasn't had much luck against the Wings in franchise history, going 4-11-5-2 in 22 games, including a 2-5-3 record at Joe Louis Arena but they did win in their last outing on November 20, 2009. Detroit, which has already clinched a playoff spot, is in a dog fight for home ice advantage with Nashville for the first round. The teams actually faced off on Friday night with the Preds taking home a 4-1 win to make it a one point advantage in the race (98-97). The Wings are led offensively by Henrik Zetterberg (68 points in 78 games), Valtteri Filppula (64 points in 77 games) and Pavel Datsyuk (64 points in 66 games). In goal, Jimmy Howard has seen the most of the action, posting a 33-16-3 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.16 goals against average.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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