Vatranos OT goal caps four-goal rally by Panthers against Blue Jackets


COLUMBUS Frank Vatrano scored at 2:48 of overtime, the fourth straight goal for the Florida Panthers in a 5-4 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves for the Panthers (17-5-4), who trailed 4-1 with 13:27 left in the third period.

“It’s a game you don’t expect to win at that stage of the game, but I like the resiliency, I like the excitement on the bench,” Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. “Everybody stuck with it. Multiple guys were contributing. It seemed like we kept the momentum going and added to it as well.”

Patrik Laine ended a seven-game point drought with a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets (10-12-6), who lost to the Panthers 3-2 here Tuesday. Elvis Merzlikins made 27 saves after missing eight games with a shoulder injury.

Laine’s last shift ended with 6:34 left in the third period. He was on the ice when Florida scored to make it 4-2 and 4-3.

“At that point in time that’s just the way it worked out,” Columbus coach John Tortorella.

Laine didn’t see it that way.

“I got scored on a couple of times, but you take out the one play where the puck was bouncing a little bit and I couldn’t get it out and they end up scoring, I thought I played good,” the forward said. “I guess I thought wrong.”

Video: FLA@CBJ: Lomberg bats first NHL goal by Merzlikins

Ryan Lomberg‘s first NHL goal, in his 29th game, made it 4-2 at 6:34.

“We knew if we stayed with it, we could chip away,” the 26-year-old forward said. “It was a great team win for sure.”

Owen Tippett got Florida within 4-3 at 12:21, and Aleksander Barkov‘s power-play goal at 14:26 made it 4-4.

The Panthers are 5-1-2 in the past eight games.

“We’re in a playoff spot now, but every game is against a division opponent, so every point matters, so we want to be in a good spot here with some games in hand,” Vatrano said. “We need to win and we’re doing that right now.”

Video: FLA@CBJ: Barkov one-times pass home to tie the game

Oliver Bjorkstrand gave Columbus a 1-0 lead 6:00 into the second period with Max Domi getting an assist for his first point in 10 games.

“When you have the puck on your stick and you make plays, that’s how you build confidence, right?” Domi said.

Bjorkstrand scored off a pass from below the goal line by Riley Nash at 10:14 to make it 2-0. Laine had an assist for his first point since scoring twice against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 23.

Patric Hornqvist tipped a shot from the right circle by Gustav Forsling to make it 2-1 at 16:50. He leads the Panthers with 11 goals.

“It was pretty jammed up,” Tippett said. “But once we got that first one, and everyone kind of started to use their feet more and everyone used each other, the energy just went up on the bench and we were able to come back.”

Laine scored on the power play with a one-timer from the right circle at 3:23 of the third period to make it 3-1, and Domi made it 4-1 at 4:43.

Columbus has lost eight of its past 10 games.

“We’ll be OK. We’ve got to keep growing,” Tortorella said. “Although we don’t get a full result tonight, we get a point. We’ll take the point. We’ve got a lot of good things going on. We’ve got to focus on that.”

NOTES: Domi’s last point was a goal against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 18. … Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau had an assist on the final two goals and has eight points (two goals, six assists) in a five-game point streak. … Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov did not play because his wife, Anastasia, gave birth to their first child, daughter Miroslava, on Thursday. Defenseman Dean Kukan played 12:58 after being a healthy scratch the past 10 games since Feb. 18.

Video: Panthers rally in 3rd, complete comeback in overtime

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