Blue Jackets take down Panthers
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - R.J. Umberger and Nikita Nikitin both scored two goals as the Columbus Blue Jackets continued their domination of the Florida Panthers with a 4-1 win at Nationwide Arena.
Allen York made 30 saves in the Blue Jackets' fifth consecutive victory over a Panthers team slumping at the wrong time.
Jose Theodore stopped 25 shots for Florida, which has dropped five of its last six games. The Southeast Division-leading Panthers, who are seeking their first playoff berth since 2000, remain four points ahead of second-place Washington. Both teams have four games left.
"We've got a lot of hockey to play yet and right now we'll take care of the things that we can absolutely control," said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen.
Florida outshot the Blue Jackets 15-6 in the first period but trailed 1-0 on a goal by Umberger, who slammed home Derick Brassard's return pass at 3:41 on a 2-on-1 rush. The disparity in shots was mainly due to the Panthers having three power plays, including a two-man advantage for 1:40.
Nikitin cashed in a power play at the 11:48 mark of the second period, beating Theodore on a point shot through heavy traffic. The defenseman struck again, this time off a faceoff, three minutes into the third period.
Tomas Kopecky put the Panthers on the board by converting a rebound at 7:57. Umberger's empty-net tally sealed it with 48 seconds remaining.
"We're finishing [the season] with a lot of fun," Umberger said. Columbus has won two straight and three of its last five games.
Nikitin added an assist...Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout made his NHL debut...Columbus opens a three-game road trip Saturday in St. Louis...The Panthers wrap up their four-game road trip Sunday in Detroit.
03/30 22:34:35 ET