COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was a similar game—only with the Columbus Blue Jackets on the winning side—less than 48 hours later.
Artem Anisimov scored a short-handed goal late in the second period and special teams provided four goals in the Blue Jackets’ 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
In a disappointing 5-2 loss at New Jersey on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets fell behind 3-0, giving up two early power-play tallies, and then allowed a short-handed goal in the final minute of the second period.
Fast forward to Saturday, when their power play clicked and Anisimov scored with his team a man down.
“When we go to the locker room … huge momentum for us,” Anisimov said of his goal with 10 seconds left in the period with the game tied at 3. “Every goal you score in the last minute is huge for the team.”
With the Panthers on the power play after Derek MacKenzie went off for a high stick, Anisimov created the goal with hard work. He skated from the left boards, behind the net and to the far wall to force a turnover by Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Russian Olympian then skated with the puck to the crease past defenceman Tom Gilbert, got goalie Scott Clemmensen to go for a fake with the backhand and then scored on the forehand.
“The Russian air was good for him,” joked Nick Foligno, who added one of two empty-net goals. “He’s come back flying. When you’re playing against elite players like that it gives you a ton of confidence.”
Columbus, which had lost its past three, couldn’t afford another effort as they had against the Devils. Anisimov’s goal charged up his teammates and the crowd.
“I didn’t realize it was such a great play until I saw the replays,” coach Todd Richards said. “That got the energy back for us.”
David Savard, Cam Atkinson and R.J. Umberger added power-play goals—the Blue Jackets were 3 for 4 with the man advantage—while Jack Johnson had three assists. Savard also had an assist.
Foligno, playing in his 450th NHL game, collected his 200th career point on his goal. Matt Calvert added another empty-netter.
Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t tested much, making 17 saves, but had a couple of big stops with the outcome still in doubt.
Shawn Mathias and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist and Sean Bergenheim also scored for the Panthers, who lost their fourth in a row and have dropped seven of eight.
The Panthers, last in the NHL on both special teams, failed to kill five consecutive penalties over two games including the first three against the Blue Jackets.
Coach Peter Horachek was seething.
“Special teams stink!” he said. “Those guys aren’t taking their responsibility for the penalty killing. … There were individuals who let everybody else down.”
Forward Brad Boyes was also disgusted.
“It’s a broken record,” he said of the special teams lapses. “It’s killing us.”
James Wisniewski’s hard shot from the top of the right circle handcuffed Clemmensen, who finished with 31 saves, with Umberger there to jam in the rebound on the power play at the 7:42 mark for the first.
After Scott Gomez went off for interference soon after, the Blue Jackets scored with just one second left in the power play when Savard’s wrister from the right point was redirected by Atkinson.
Johnson, whose whiff on a power-play shot from the point resulted in a costly short-handed goal in Thursday’s loss, assisted on both goals.
The Panthers countered late in the period when Wisniewski’s pass went right to Matthias who tucked a shot inside the near post on Bobrovsky.
Bjugstad won a puck battle with 20-year-old defenceman Ryan Murray at the blue line and then coasted in with plenty of room to move, eventually deking Bobrovsky to the ice before lifting a backhand for his 14th to tie it.
Savard then carried the puck from the right boards unimpeded to the slot where he flipped a backhand past Clemmensen but 40 seconds later Bergenheim converted a rebound.
That set the stage for Anisimov’s big play.
Notes: D Fedor Tyutin, expected to be out two to three weeks with an ankle injury suffered while playing with the Russian Olympic team, missed his second game for the Blue Jackets. … The Panthers were opening a three-game road trip; they play at the Islanders on Sunday, then at Boston on Tuesday.
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