One game at a time, these Blue Jackets are making a name for themselves.
Despite missing several lineup regulars, the Blue Jackets stormed into FLA Live Arena and left with two points. J-F Berube made 39 saves as the Blue Jackets took down the first-place Panthers, 6-3.
Going into Thursday night, the Blue Jackets were 0-7-1 in their last eight games against the Panthers and gave up an average of 5.75 goals per game in those eight. Tonight, they began the process of righting those wrongs.
The Panthers got the scoring started in the first period. MacKenzie Weegar scored his sixth of the season, finishing off a nice pass from Aleksander Barkov after the Blue Jackets lost Weegar in defensive coverage. After their recent struggles against the Panthers, the Blue Jackets could have folded. Instead, they responded.
The man who can't stop scoring scored again. Jakub Voracek led an odd-man rush into the Panthers' zone, then found Patrik Laine with a saucer pass. Laine then sent a wrist shot past Panthers netminder Jonas Johansson to tie things up at one goal apiece. It was Laine's 19th goal of the season, and he continued his 11-game point streak (13-8-21).
In the second period, the Blue Jackets surged ahead thanks to their captain, Boone Jenner. He tipped home a shot from Vladislav Gavrikov to give the Blue Jackets the advantage. It was Jenner's 22nd of the season, which leads the Blue Jackets. He's on pace to break his season-best, which is 30.
Late in the period, the Blue Jackets got a big opportunity while on the penalty kill. Gustav Nyquist found Jenner on a breakaway, but Johansson was able to make the stop with his right pad. The two teams headed to their respective locker rooms with the Blue Jackets up by a goal.
An unlikely hero emerged in the third period: defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, who didn't know he'd be playing tonight until Zach Werenski was ruled out. After Bjorkstrand found him with a pass, Carlsson sent a wrist shot on net that trickled through Johansson's five-hole to give the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead. It was Carlsson's second goal of the season and third of his NHL career.
Jonathan Huberdeau answered back with his 18th goal of the season. Barkov tied up Gavrikov in front of the net, allowing Huberdeau to skate in on J-F Berube alone. The Panthers forward beat Berube to the corner of the net, sliding the puck in just before the Blue Jackets netminder could get his right pad there.
Then, rookie Cole Sillinger restored the Blue Jackets' two-goal lead with a missile of a wrist shot. Voracek notched his second assist of the night. Before the Panthers could even blink, Justin Danforth tipped a Boqvist shot past Johansson for the Blue Jackets' fifth goal of the night.
The Panthers responded by pulling Johansson, and Sam Bennett scored while the Panthers had an empty net to cut the Blue Jackets' lead to 5-3. After Bennett's goal, the Panthers went to an empty net again, but this time Oliver Bjorkstrand buried an empty-netter to restore the three-goal cushion.
Sillinger had an opportunity to score a seventh on a once-again empty net, but Bennett hit him up high and was assessed a minor penalty for charging. The 18-year-old was a bit shook up, but skated off the ice under his own power.
The Blue Jackets (27-23-1, 55 points) will head to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes (35-11-4, 74 points tomorrow night. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. EST.