Through 40 minutes of today's game, the outcome was about as predictable as the local forecast.
The Blue Jackets and Panthers, two teams that had met at Nationwide Arena just a month earlier, convened once again for a wild, spirited affair that had more than its share of ebb and flows. Columbus tallied three power play goals in total - two of them coming in the first period - and got a spectacular shorthanded goal from Artem Anisimov late in the second period to put them back in front for good.
And after a disappointing post-Olympics open in New Jersey two nights prior, this was an ideal tonic for the Blue Jackets.
RJ Umberger, Cam Atkinson and David Savard scored on the man advantage, the Savard goal re-gaining the lead after Florida tallied twice to even things up. The Panthers were resilient but made one mistake too many, and allowed the Blue Jackets to recapture some late-period momentum in the form of Anisimov's shorty.
Anisimov, seemingly out of options fighting a few Panthers for the puck along the wall, emerged with the puck and walked in on Scott Clemmensen, making one deke to the forehand and sliding his 15th goal of the season just inside the far post. That goal, which came with 10 seconds left in the second period, was a significant turning point in the game and coach Todd Richards said it re-energized the group at a crucial time.
The Blue Jackets played their game in the third period, and rather than sit back, they pushed ahead and spent a lot of time in the Panthers' zone. Two empty-netters in the final minute - from Foligno and Calvert - closed the scoring this afternoon.
This one's pretty easy. The Anisimov goal rescued the Blue Jackets from a subpar second period and gave them the lead going into the third period, but the way it transpired was equally important. Rather than give up on the play and retreat, Anisimov continued to pursue the puck and came up with a golden chance that he cashed with authority.
1. DAVID SAVARD (CBJ)
Savard's big leap forward this season has been well-documented, but he hadn't really been paid off in the scoring department until today. His wrister through traffic set up Atkinson's re-direct in the first and he scored a slick goal in the second period, dekeing to the slot and backhanding one past Clemmensen's far post.
2. ARTEM ANISIMOV (CBJ)
Solid afternoon for Anisimov, who also scored Thursday in New Jersey. The highlight-reel shorthanded goal aside, this was an effective day for the big Russian, who centered a line with Foligno and Gaborik.
3. RJ UMBERGER (CBJ)
He opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period, and was one of the Jackets' consistent net-front presences in the game.
AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
MONDAY, 7 P.M.
AIR CANADA CENTRE
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