The Florida Panthers’ dominance this season over an entire division could be the difference in getting to the postseason.
Florida looks to remain perfect against Central Division foes when they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to the BankAtlantic Center.
We got a couple goals that kind of cushioned us,” said Nieuwendyk. “It’s good to maintain a two-goal lead. A great goal by Olli to start things off and (Jozef) Stumpel made a great pass on my goal.”
Roberto Luongo finished with 35 saves. He has two career home wins against the Blue Jackets, both by shutout.
Florida defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Dec. 3 and routed the Nashville Predators 7-3 on Dec. 13. The Panthers made it three in a row over the Central Division on Dec. 15 with a 3-2 victory over the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings.
Columbus will try to avoid going winless in the Sunshine State. The Blue Jackets twice drew within one goal in the third period Friday before falling 4-2 to the Lightning.
“I think we just gave that game away in the third period … I don’t remember us playing a dumber period than the one we played in the third,” said Blue Jackets goaltender Marc Denis, who finished with 35 saves. “If we go back and forth with this team, we don’t have a chance.
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how the switch in our brain went off. It’s just the wrong way to play this game.”
Columbus tied a franchise record for goals in a game on March 9, 2001, with a 7-6 victory over Florida.