A scoreless first period didn’t mean much for long, as the Florida Panthers exploded in the second to go up 3-0. Those goals by MacKenzie Weegar and two by Alexander Wennberg laid the foundation for the Panthers’ 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets.
Saturday marked the first game back for captain Aleksander Barkov as well as for Patrick Hornqvist. Each carried on like they never left with a point, both via assist, each. It was also a big night for Matt Kiersted, who debuted, and for Sergei Bobrovsky, who celebrated his 500th NHL game. Although the goalie’s 500th career game was last season, the Panthers delayed the celebrations until Saturday, where the entire team warmed up in special jerseys with their names in the Cyrillic alphabet and the number 500.
Coach Q was impressed by Kierstad’s team-leading four blocks in his debut, saying: “I thought he looked really comfortable, looked poised. He did a lot of good things. I like the way he sees and processes the game. He’s positionally aware and has a good stick. A really good game for him to start.”
Coach Q also addressed Wennberg’s first career hat-trick: “He had a heck of a game, did a lot of good things besides scoring three. … We’re happy with his game. He’s adding some speed to his game as well. The puck was following him around a little bit. A couple of great shots.”
With the win, the Panthers are once again tied for first place in the Central Division, as well as the league. The Cats will have the chance to keep that first place spot with a rematch against Columbus on Sunday.
Star of the Game: Sergei Bobrovsky (44 Saves, .957 SV%)
Although this spot could’ve also gone to Wennberg for his first career hat trick, Bobrovsky carried a huge load, allowing only two goals on 46 shots. This huge night surely helped the Panthers claim the win with the Blue Jackets beating out the Panthers in SOG, hits, and blocks.