Barkov, Driedger lead Panthers to 3-0 win over Blue Jackets

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist, Chris Driedger posted his third career shutout, and the surging Florida Panthers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Sunday.

Frank Vatrano and Gustav Forsling also scored, and MacKenzie Weegar had two assists as the Panthers won their sixth straight and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Driedger, who has earned wins in four of his last five appearances, stopped all 32 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.

Joonas Korpisalo also had 32 saves for Columbus.

Vatrano’s unassisted goal — his 13th — came eight minutes into the third period to put Florida ahead 2-0, and Forsling capped the scoring at the 12:20 mark.

Playing in only their second game back from injury, Barkov and Patric Hornqvist teamed up for Florida’s first goal at 1:52 of the second period.

Hornqvist grabbed an attempted Columbus clear and fed Barkov at the top of the right circle. The Panthers’ captain ripped a one-timer that landed top shelf past Korpisalo for his 14th.

It was the second assist in as two nights for Hornqvist, who missed four games prior to Saturday’s return. Barkov was out six games.

Neither team generated any sustained momentum during a relatively even first period that featured an 11-7 shot advantage for Florida. It remained close in shots (24-19) after 40 minutes.

The Panthers could not capitalize on several odd-man rushes, and Columbus faced numerous disruptions on attempted rushes into the offensive zone.

Florida was more successful putting pucks on net, however, including a blast from Barkov that hit the post midway through the period.

CLIMBING

Barkov passed Olli Jokinen for the second-most even-strength goals (116) in franchise history. He trails only Jonathan Huberdeau (123) in that category.

SCORING

Weegar leads all Florida defensemen in even-strength scoring with 22 points. Weegar and Hornqvist have a combined 35 assists.

ATTENDANCE

The game was witnessed by 4,069 fans, just slightly under the 25% capacity at the BB&T Center.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

Panthers: At Carolina on Tuesday night.

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