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NHL Game Summary - Columbus at Florida

(Saturday, March 21st)

Final Score: Columbus 3, Florida 1

Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Raffi Torres scored twice late in the third period as Columbus came from behind to defeat Florida, 3-1, in a matchup of two playoff-hopeful teams at BankAtlantic Center.

Antoine Vermette added a late empty-net goal for the Blue Jackets, who have won three straight on the road. Rookie Steve Mason stopped 22 shots to improve to 30-17-3 on the season.

The Blue Jackets have certainly helped their playoff cause recently, with wins in six of their last seven games. The team currently sits in the sixth spot in the Western Conference with 82 points.

Columbus has never made the postseason since entering the league for the 2000-01 campaign.

"I think were learning right now how to win games when you need it," said Torres.

Rostislav Olesz scored the lone goal for the Panthers, who have lost five of their last six contests. Tomas Vokoun turned aside 34 shots in the loss.

The Panthers, who are currently one point behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, last qualified for the playoffs in 2000.

Due to Florida's loss, Boston became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff spot.

Torres scored the first Columbus goal of the game with just 2:46 remaining in the game. Torres fired a one-timer from the left circle after receiving a beautiful pass from Kristian Huselius.

Just over a minute later, Torres put the Blue Jackets ahead 2-1, suddenly. Torres fired a shot from the right circle that went through the five-hole of Vokoun.

Vermette scored an empty-net goal with 19 ticks left to seal the victory.

The Panthers drew first blood at the 15:31 mark of the first period on a goal from Olesz. Nick Tarnasky's shot from in front trickled behind Mason, who couldn't find the lose puck. Olesz charged in and chipped the disc past the goal line.

Florida failed to take advantage of a pair of power-play opportunities during a scoreless second frame.

Just 2:51 into the final frame, Columbus' Derek Dorsett was sent to the penalty box for holding. But the Panthers had just two shots during the power play, once again failing on a chance to extend their lead.

Florida went 0-for-3 on the power play and it came back to haunt them at the end of the tilt.

"I don't think that we actually lost the game in the last two minutes. I thought we lost it earlier in the game with the opportunities we had in the offensive zone," said Florida head coach Peter DeBoer.

Game Notes

The Blue Jackets improved to 15-17-4 as the guest this year...Florida is 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand that will end Monday in a key matchup with rival Carolina. The Panthers are 19-11-6 as the host this year, but have lost four of their last six home tests...This was the only meeting between the teams this season.

03/21 23:44:53 ET

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