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Alex Wennberg’s first NHL hat trick leads the Florida Panthers past the Blue Jackets

Apr 3, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan (46) skates with the puck around Florida Panthers center Noel Acciari (55) during the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan (46) skates with the puck around Florida Panthers center Noel Acciari (55) during the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers scored three goals within a span of five minutes in the second period en route to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Two Columbus alums were the heroes of the night for the Panthers as Alex Wennberg got his first NHL hat trick and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 saves.

Before the game, Bobrovsky was honored by the Panthers for playing in his 500th NHL game during the 2019-20 season.

Bobrovsky, who played 374 games for Columbus, has four wins against the Jackets this season.

Saturday marked the fifth consecutive win for Florida, which remains tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the Central Division with 54 points apiece.

Wennberg, who was bought out by Columbus in October and signed a one-year deal with Florida the next day, scored twice in the second period after Florida took a 1-0 lead on a goal from MacKenzie Weegar.

Weegar and Wennberg scored 52 seconds apart for a 2-0 lead after Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins had stopped the first 17 shots he faced.

Merzlikins was pulled after making 22 saves in the first two periods. Joonas Korpisalo came in and stopped 12 shots in the third.

Down 3-0 going into the third, Columbus got on the board at 2:46 of the period when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored off a big rebound. It came on Columbus’ 35th shot of the night.

Florida extended its lead back to three goals just past the midway point of the game when Frank Vatrano jumped on a rebound from an Owen Tippett shot.

Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski pulled the Jackets back within two with 1:45 to play before Wennberg iced the victory with his third goal of the night – this one into an empty net.

–Field Level Media