COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A drama-filled day for the Columbus Blue Jackets started with the public reprimand and benching of the No. 1 goaltender and ended with an overtime goal in a game that nearly slipped away.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who has rebuffed the Blue Jackets’ efforts to re-sign him, was scratched for Thursday’s game for disciplinary reasons, with the team citing an unspecified “incident” but making it clear in a public statement that he failed to meet team “expectations and values.”
That put backup Joonas Korpisalo in the net and required the call-up of another goalie from the AHL team in Cleveland.
Some 12 hours later, Artemi Panarin scored his second goal of the game 1:22 into overtime to lift the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, who had surged back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to tie the score and force the extra time.
“It’s just a funny league,” said Columbus coach John Tortorella, who picked up his 600th career NHL win. “There’s nothing safe. You go up 3-1 with five, six minutes left, you think you’re going to get things finished but you just never know. But I like the way we just kept our composure, and found a way to win in overtime.”
Boone Jenner also had two goals, Zach Werenski had a pair of assists and Korpisalo had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets, who had lost five in a row to Nashville dating to November 2015.
“We had a fun tonight, and I think a lot of guys chipped in and played really well,” said captain Nick Foligno, who returned after missing four games while he was at the side of his 5-year-old daughter who had heart surgery in Boston.
The game was marked by offensive surges by both teams.
Panarin and Jenner scored in an 11-second span of the third period, only to have Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson and Mattias Ekholm answer with quick goals to knot the game.
In overtime, Panarin ripped a shot past Pekka Rinne from the left circle on a 4-on-3 power play to snap a three-game winning streak for the Predators.
Rinne, who was forced to play on consecutive nights because his backup was sick, had 29 saves.
“It was not what was scheduled, but those are the cards we were dealt,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “And I thought he played great.”
The Predators stayed in first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of Winnipeg.
The team hasn’t provided any more details of Bobrovsky’s situation, but Tortorella said he’s pleased with the way the team has managed to gel despite the contract situations of the Vezina Trophy-winning goalie and Panarin both hanging in the air. They are in playoff contention in the rugged Metropolitan Division.
“There’s stuff around our team,” Tortorella said. “It started right from camp when (Panarin) and Bob stated they’re not sure if they want to be here. We’ve been very honest in that locker room about the situations that have come our way, and I think that’s the best way to do it so players aren’t tip-toeing.”
NOTES: Nashville recalled G Troy Grosenick from Milwaukee of the AHL to back up Renne … Columbus recalled G Jean-Francois Berube from Cleveland after the announcement that Bobrovsky would be benched. … Blue Jackets forwards Brandon Dubinsky (hamstring) and Markus Hannikainen (elbow) were put on injured reserve Thursday. Both are expected to miss about a week. … A Columbus restaurant put up a billboard offering Panarin free meals for life is he re-signs with the Blue Jackets. … Columbus is 12-0 on Thursday nights this season.
Nashville: At Carolina on Sunday.
Columbus: At Washington on Saturday night.
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