BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
Early this year, the Florida Panthers celebrated Keith Yandle playing in his 1000th NHL game by doing a video tribute and giving him some gifts. During the pre-game the Panthers wore a jersey with Yandle’s name and the No. 1000.
The Panthers went on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Saturday, March 13, 2021.
Last Night it was Sergei Bobrovsky’s turn to be honored.
He reached his 500th NHL game on February 10, 2020 at Philadelphia, just prior to the NHL’s pause to the 2019-20 season.
He became the 75th goaltender in NHL history to reach the 500-game mark.
Upon reaching the milestone, Bobrovsky became just the third Russian born goaltender to play 500 NHL games.
Before the Columbus Blue Jackets game on Saturday night, Bobrovsky was given a video tribute and some gifts. While he was talking, he seemed humbled by this ceremony.
But when the puck dropped, Bobrovsky let his play do the talking.
He stopped 44 of 46 Columbus shots with a .957 save percentage, the most saves by a Panthers goaltender this season.
His performance earned him the No.1 Star of the game and the Panthers defeated the Blue Jackets 5-2.
Florida was outshot 46-39 in this contest.
His play was huge after making one big save after another and his teammates clearly fed off of him. There are nights when your goaltender has to use his play to create energy and Bobrovsky did exactly that.
Bobrovsky improved his record to 15-5-2.
The Panthers earned the victory by scoring three goals in a 4:50 span in the second period and added two more goals in the third to improve to 25-9-4 and 4-0-1 against Columbus.
Alexander Wennberg registered his first career hat trick (3-0-3) his third multi-goal game, and led Florida in time on the ice playing 22:28. He has tallied four goals over his past two games.
MacKenzie Weegar produced two points (1-1-2), his fourth multi-point game of the season.
Patric Hornqvist and Aleksander Barkov both posted an assist in their first game back from injuries.
The Panthers winning streak reached five in the triumph over Columbus.
Coach Joel Quenneville was pleased and said prior to the streak, “We did face a little adversity (during the three-game losing streak) even though I still didn’t mind how we were playing in those games. Every single game we were finding a way to be competitive and getting points.”
Bobrovsky said he was honored with the Panthers gesture.
“It was a special night, since I stepped into the locker room before the game and seeing all the jerseys with last names in Russian, and how the boys were trying to figure it out was great.
“It was great to be in action. As the season goes on, sometimes there are 20 shots or 40 shots. You’re just there for your teammates, trying to step up and do your best when they need you. I’m always happy to help and it was a pleasure to play.
“I tried to enjoy every moment, every second of this. I didn’t think about the pressure or the distractions. I just go out there and have fun and enjoy the win after with my teammates.”
With a quick turnaround for the Easter Sunday contest at 5 pm at the BB&T Center, Bobrovsky got the day off and Chris Driedger was in the pipes.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com.
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