The Florida Panthers finished a quick two-game homestand as they the league leader in points the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Saturday night at BB&T Center. The Cats now head out on the road for four games against the Western Conference.
It took 8:22 into the first period for Florida(20-17-8) to get out ahead 1-0. Aaron Ekblad was on the right-wing wall when he passed toward the net. Shawn Thornton put in a shot from the blue point by Joonas Korpisalo for his 100th NHL point.
Columbus(29-9-4) was able to score on their first power play at the 10:57 mark. Ryan Murray sent a slapshot from the left point which redirected in the Panthers cage by Scott Hartnell past James Reimer for his 11th tally of the campaign.
The Blue Jackets capitalized on a giveaway that led to a goal with 1:50 left in the first. Derek MacKenzie knocked the puck in mid-air to the middle of the ice. Cam Atkinson took it at the high slot and scored on a wrist shot for an unassisted goal.
The Cats evened the contest midway through the second period. Jason Demers passed the puck from the right point to Vincent Trocheck in the right corner. He flicked it toward the net from below the goal line and it squeezed on through at 8:24.
The Panthers regained the lead 3-2 at the 10:46 mark. Jonathan Marchessault stole the puck from Markus Nutivaara in his own zone. He skated through the crease area then lifted a wrist shot in for his 13th goal of the season.
Florida extended their margin to 4-2 at the 1:27 mark of the third period. Trocheck skated across the slot area to the right circle and put a slapshot on net. Jaromir Jagr poked in the loose rebound from the blue paint for his eighth goal this season and 757th NHL goal.
Boone Jenner closed the gap to 4-3 at 6:17 for the Blue Jackets. He skated with the puck through center ice and into the Panthers zone. He snapped a shot from the high slot which hit off the left post and into the net.