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


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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