Bennett scores first goal with Panthers in win against Blue Jackets


SUNRISE, Fla. — Sam Bennett scored his first goal for the Florida Panthers in a 4-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at BB&T Center on Monday.

Bennett was acquired April 12 from the Calgary Flames along with a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft for forward prospect Emil Heineman and a 2022 second-round pick.

Frank Vatrano scored two goals for the Panthers (29-12-5), who are 3-0-1 in their past four games. Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves.

Oliver Bjorkstrand and Zac Dalpe scored for the Blue Jackets (15-23-9), who have lost six in a row (0-5-1). Elvis Merzlikins made 35 saves.

Vatrano gave Florida a 1-0 lead at 11:40 of the first period with his third goal in four games. A clearing attempt from behind the Columbus net went off the skate of defenseman Seth Jones and to the front of the net right to Vatrano.

Bennett made it 2-0 at 59 seconds of the second period with a shot from the slot after a three-way passing play with linemates Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Huberdeau. Bennett had two assists in his Florida debut in a 5-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Bjorkstrand made it 2-1 at 13:22 with a long-distance wrist shot.

Radko Gudas made it 3-1 at 14:03 with a one-timer off a feed from Duclair. The goal was upheld on a review after the Blue Jackets challenged for goalie interference.

Dalpe made it 3-2 at 8:01 of the third period when he scored off a scramble in front of the Florida net.

Merzlikins stopped Vatrano on a penalty shot at 12:30 to keep it a 3-2 score. Vatrano scored an empty-net goal at 13:38 for the 4-2 final.

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