SKID COMES TO A CLOSE: Panthers end five-game losing streak, long losing slump against Columbus with Bergenheim's third period goal ... Dylan Olsen put on waivers
It had been 11 years since the Panthers beat Columbus on their home ice.
Florida's latest five-game skid only seemed that long.
Thursday, the Panthers snapped a few long losing streaks with one big goal as Sean Bergenheim's deflection of a Dmitry Kulikov shot lifted the Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets.
"We're not looking back. This is over now,''
said Kulikov, whose team lost the first four of the five game homestand which concluded Thursday.
"It's hard getting over the hump. It took a little longer than we thought it would but we're going to get going now.''
The Panthers hadn't beaten Columbus at home since Gerard Gallant -- Florida's first-year coach -- was behind the Blue Jackets' bench on Jan. 3, 2004.
Overall, Florida hadn't tasted victory over the Jackets since winning in Columbus in 2007 -- thereby ending the second longest active losing streak in the league.
Edmonton has lost 13 straight to the Bruins.
"It was good to get the last game of the homestand and get a win,'' Gallant said. "They took it to us early but after that, I thought we handled the game. Columbus is a tough team. They forced us into mistakes. We battled and finally got some breaks tonight.''
Florida desperately needed a win yet it looked at times as if the Blue Jackets were going to find away to take another one.
After a coma-inducing scoreless first, Columbus took a 1-0 lead just 1:08 into the second. Over a minute later, Jonathan Huberdeau tied it again with a backhander past Curtis McElhinney.
"It was important to get the two points and that's what we did,'' Huberdeau said.
Florida held a 2-1 lead on rookie Aaron Ekblad's seventh goal of the season midway through the second yet the Blue Jackets forged another tie after Alex Wennberg bunted a puck past Roberto Luongo 1:26 before the end of the period.
Florida took the lead back for good with 6:52 remaining when Bergenheim set up shop on McElhinney's right and got a chunk of Kulikov's shot.
The puck found its way to the back of the net, and after a long review to see if Bergenheim used a high stick, the goal was ruled clean.
"I like to get shots like that, it was a good shot by Kulikov,'' said Bergenheim, who also took a Jack Johnson stick to the face during his goal giving Florida a power play (0-3).
"I didn't think it was a high stick. When I saw it on the scoreboard, I thought it was clean. But you never know.''
Bergenheim had missed a good chunk of the game after getting hit with 14 minutes (slashing, unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct) of penalties midway through the second.
The Panthers sure were glad to see him back on the ice.
"It wasn't good what I did and I shouldn't have taken the penalties I did,'' Bergenheim said. "I wanted to do something good for the team.''
The Panthers not only replaced Dylan Olsen in the lineup with Alex Petrovic on Thursday, but placed the 24-year-old defenseman on waivers as well.
Although Olsen could be claimed by another team, the Panthers made the move in order to send him to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
Coincidentally, Colby Robak -- who was Florida's seventh defenseman at the start of the season -- was waived by Anaheim Thursday as well. The Panthers don't appear to be interested in putting a claim in.
"We are confident with our defensive depth and I'm not happy with the way we've been playing defensively,'' general manager Dale Tallon said.
"We have a lot of guys who are ready to do the job.''
-- Florida canceled Friday's practice and will instead just fly to New York in the afternoon.