Alexander Wennberg notched his first career hat trick, Sergei Bobrovsky made a season-high 44 saves, and the Columbus Blue Jackets lost for the sixth time in seven games as the Florida Panthers pick up a 5-2 win at BB&T Arena in Saturday night action.
After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jackets eighth consecutive opening period without a goal, the Panthers took a 1-0 at the 3:57 mark of the second when MacKenzie Weegar beat Columbus starter Elvis Merzlikins. Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella opted not to challenge the play for an offsides, despite the play appearing to be so.
Less than a minute later, Alexander Wennberg picked up his 9th goal of the season to give Florida a 2-0 lead. Four minutes later, Wennberg would pick up his second of the night and 10th of the season to make it 3-0. In six seasons with Columbus, Wennberg scored double-digit goals just once. That came in the 2016-17 season, when he scored 13 goals en route to a career-high 59 points.
Oliver Bjorkstrand would give the Blue Jackets a glimpse of hope less than three minutes into the third, when he directed Michael Del Zotto's shot into the net after it deflected off Bobrovsky's pad.
Any hope of a Columbus comeback came to an end just over the mid point of the third period, when Frank Vatrano buried a rebound to make it 4-1 in favor of the Panthers. Defenseman Zach Werenski seemed to slow up on the play, allowing Vatrano to score when the original shot was saved by Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo entered the game for the third period and it was the only goal he allowed on 13 shots.
Werenski would make it 4-2 with less than two minutes left, but Wennberg's third goal of then night - on the same day he announced that his wife was pregnant - would seal the deal for Florida.
Emil Bemstrom remains on injured reserved with a lower body injury sustained in practice.
Columbus and Florida are back at it Sunday afternoon. Puck drop is 5:00 P.M. from Sunrise.
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