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Vatrano’s OT Goal Pushes Panthers Past Blue Jackets 5-4



MIAMI – Frank Vatrano scored 2:48 into overtime, Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves and the Florida Panthers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Thursday night to sweep a two-game series.

The Panthers scored three times in the third period to erase a 4-1 deficit before Vatrano tipped in a rebounded shot from Jonathan Huberdeau to win it.

Patric Hornqvist, Ryan Lomberg, Owen Tippett and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers, who have won four of five.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two second-period goals, Patrik Laine and Max Domi also scored and Elvis Merzlikins had 27 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three straight and six of eight.

Bjorkstrand scored on a 2-on-1 rush off a nice feed from Domi at the 6-minute mark of the second period. Bjorkstrand struck again later in the second from the right circle after Riley Nash shoveled a pass out from the behind the net.

The Panthers had a miserable second period offensively, managing just four on-target shots, but Hornqvist’s deflection of Forsling shot with 4:10 left made it a one-goal game.

Laine rifled in a shot from the left circle on a power play early in the third. Domi slid in a shot from a sharp angle 80 seconds later for a 4-1 lead, but the Panthers came charging back.

Lomberg batted a rebounded puck out of the air and past Merzlikins for his first NHL goal. Tippett’s goal cut the lead to 4-3, and Barkov tied the score with a wrist shot from the right circle on a power play with 5:34 left.


Merzlikins got his first start since Feb. 20 after spending two weeks on injured reserve because of a bone bruise in his left shoulder. Joonas Korpisalo started all eight games while Merzlikins was sidelined.

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