Wennberg hat trick, Bobrovsky 44 saves help Panthers defeat Blue Jackets

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SUNRISE, Fla.Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 saves, and Alex Wennberg scored his first NHL hat trick when the Florida Panthers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 at BB&T Center on Saturday.

MacKenzie Weegar and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (25-9-4), who have a season-high five-game winning streak.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored for the Blue Jackets (14-17-8). Goalie Elvis Merzlikins was pulled after the second period after making 21 saves. Joonas Korpisalo made 12 saves in the third period.

Wennberg played for the Blue Jackets from 2014-20; Bobrovsky played for them from 2012-19.

Weegar gave Florida a 1-0 lead at 3:57 of the second period when he took a cross-ice pass from Aleksander Barkov and scored with a high shot to the glove side. Barkov returned after the forward missed six games with a lower-body injury.

Wennberg made it 2-0 at 4:49 when he one-timed a pass from Vatrano on a 2-on-1, and 3-0 at 8:47 with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.

Bjorkstrand made it 3-1 at 2:46 of the third period when he scored on a rebound.

Vatrano gave Florida a 4-1 lead at 10:54 on a rebound after Korpisalo stopped Owen Tippett on a breakaway. Zach Werenski got Columbus within 4-2 at 18:15.

Wennberg completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 19:53 for the 5-2 final.

Florida defenseman Matt Kiersted made his NHL debut two days after signing as a free agent from the University North Dakota.

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