COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Carter Verhaeghe scored four goals to reach 40 for the season, Alex Lyon made 21 saves for his first shutout and the Florida Panthers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-0 on Saturday night to move into the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Sam Reinhart added a goal and two assists, Nick Cousins and Eric Staal also scored and Anthony Duclair and Aleksander Barkov each had three assists in the Panthers' third straight road victory.
Florida moved a point ahead of Pittsburgh for eighth place in the conference, with five games left on the Panthers’ schedule.
“The resiliency is the most important part of this journey we’ve been on since January,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re able to bounce back out after tough losses or tough injuries. We’ll have to keep grinding.”
Michael Hutchinson stopped 42 shots for Columbus, which was shut out for the fifth time this season and has lost four straight. The Blue Jackets are tied with Chicago for the worst record in the NHL.
Florida dominated from the start, using a power-play score from Reinhart, his team-leading 15th of the season, and a goal from Verhaeghe for a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.
Verhaeghe took charge of the second period, making it 3-0 after 18 seconds and completing a natural hat trick, the third of his career, just over six minutes later.
“It was a solid effort start to finish,” Verhaeghe said. “Everyone played well, all four lines played well. (Lyon) was great back there. It was awesome. It was a good team effort. We want to keep it going the next few games.”
Cousins made it 5-0 at 8:34 of the third before Verhaeghe added his team-leading 40th.
Staal made it 7-0 with 5:44 left.
“We had some moments early but they scored easy, as far as some of their goals, and they got to kind of rolling there, and then we were chasing,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “It wasn’t a good recipe.”
Verhaeghe is the third player in Panthers history to have a four game, joining Pavel Bure (twice) and Mark Parrish.
Tkachuk's 64th assist of the season is the most by an active player in their first season with a franchise, surpassing Sidney Crosby and Artemi Panarin, both with 63.
Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke was a minus-6 for the game, a franchise record.
SICK AND INJURED
Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky missed his third consecutive game dealing with a non-COVID illness. Columbus’ Jack Roslovic and Lane Pederson were both out with injuries,
To fill their ever-growing holes due to injuries, the Blue Jackets added defenseman Marcus Bjork, center Josh Dunne, left wing Joona Luoto and center Justin Richards on emergency recall from the AHL Monsters. Richards, playing in his second-ever NHL game, is the son of former Columbus coach Todd Richards.
The Blue Jackets' Trey Fix-Wolansky, who overslept and missed a team meeting, was sent back to Cleveland of the AHL.
HE SAID IT
“I wish I could be super humble, but it actually feels really good. It’s one of those things I always wanted but the opportunity never presented itself.” - Lyons about his shutout.
Panthers: Host Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Blue Jackets: Host Ottawa Sunday night.
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