SUNRISE, Fla. — Nick Cousins pulled Florida into a tie in the final minute of regulation, Carter Verhaeghe scored 1:26 into overtime and the Panthers got a wild 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
Florida led 3-0 barely six minutes into the contest, gave up the next four goals and then needed the late heroics from Cousins and Verhaeghe.
Ryan Lomberg, Gustav Forsling and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky made 18 saves.
“It felt good,” Verhaeghe said. “Definitely nice to get the win, but it’s obviously not how we drew it up. We started off good and let them back in it, but there are no bad wins.”
Sean Kuraly, Boone Jenner, Alexandre Texier and Kirill Marchenko scored for the Blue Jackets. Spencer Martin made 35 saves in relief of Elvis Merzlinkins, who allowed three goals on 11 shots in the first 6:09.
“It didn’t surprise me at all that we responded,” Martin said. “I love the guys in this room so much. We battle and it seems like we’ve done this type of thing in a few games already and, man, I really wish I could have gotten the win for them.”
Lomberg opened the scoring with a bank shot off of Merzlinkins’ back 2:19 into the game. Forsling added a goal 50 seconds later that quickly gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Barkov scored a backhand goal while falling on a rebound to put Florida up 3-0, prompting Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent to swap out his goaltenders.
The Panthers outshot Columbus 20-0 from the 1:19 mark of the first period until the Blue Jackets got their first goal of the game with 4:19 to go in the first.
Kuraly picked up an Erik Gudbranson rebound and stuffed it past Bobrovsky to break the streak. Boone Jenner added a second goal with 1:09 to go in the opening frame with a quick wrist shot off the rush.
Marchenko tied the game with a power-play goal 10:02 into the second period.
Texier stuffed in a loose puck sitting in front of a wide-open Florida net to put the Blue Jackets ahead 4-3 with 7:30 left in regulation. But Cousins got the tying goal off a turnover late, then Verhaeghe won it.
“He’s had some incredible chances and he has generated them,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of Cousins. “Right now, with Sam Bennett out, he is a really important piece. He is a guy who can come into the top nine to kind of fill that hole.”
Florida defenseman Mike Reilly made his Panthers debut after being a healthy scratch in the team’s first 10 games. Columbus defenseman Andrew Peeke — a native of nearby Parkland, Florida — drew into his first game since the team’s season opener on Oct. 12.
Blue Jackets: Host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
Panthers: At Washington Capitals on Wednesday.