SUNRISE, Florida — The puck and the blade of the opponent's stick converged on Sean Bergenheim in front of the net at almost the same time.
Luckily for Bergenheim, the puck got there a split-second earlier and he was able to poke it into the net for the go-ahead goal late in the third period to help the Florida Panthers get a much-needed win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2 on Thursday night.
Bergenheim broke a 2-2 tie when he deflected a shot from Dmitry Kulikov with 6:52 left in the third. Kulikov shot from the blue line on the left side, and the puck deflected off Bergenheim's stick, hit the ice in front and bounced in. The goal was upheld after a video review to determine if it was a high stick.
"I wanted to tip it all along and then I see this stick coming at the same time. Luckily I got the puck first, then I?just took the stick in the mouth," Bergenheim said.
Bergenheim was hit by the blade of Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson's stick.
"I?actually don't think I'm going to get any stitches, but one of the teeth did feel like it's kind of pushed back a little bit," Bergenheim said. "I don't think it's going to be too bad."
Bergenheim took a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the second period for arguing a call, then made the most of his return in the third.
"Obviously it wasn't good what I?did and I shouldn't have taken the penalty that I?took," he said. "It was good to kind of do something good for the team in return."
Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers, and Roberto Luongo made 30 saves.
Florida snapped a five-game losing streak, won at home for the first time in seven games, and beat Columbus for the first time since a 5-2 road victory on Nov. 21, 2007 — a span of 11 games.
"We needed to win tonight," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Tonight was big. I don't look at the past games, and tonight moving forward we needed that win before you go on a tough road trip. It's a big two points for our club."
The Panthers start a three-game road trip Saturday.
Alexander Wennberg and Johnson scored for the Blue Jackets and Curtis McElhinney stopped 29 shots.
The Panthers went ahead 2-1 on a slap shot from Ekblad from the high slot that got passed McElhinney and went high into the net at 11:26 of the second. Ekblad now has 28 points.
The Blue Jackets tied it at 2 on an odd goal by Wennberg, who pushed in the puck off his stick after it bounced off the crossbar with 1:26 left in the period. The play was reviewed and it was determined Wennberg hit the puck below the crossbar and the goal was upheld.
"Alex (Wennberg) made a great play, waiting for the puck to drop, then knocks it in with the shaft of his stick," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.
McElhinney made his second start since the injury to Sergei Bobrovsky.
"We had some energy and some jump to start the game and we bounced back when they got the second one too, so that was nice to see," McElhinney said. "I think we gave ourselves an opportunity to win and it just came down to a nice play on their part and a favorable call for them."
Columbus took a 1-0 lead on the goal by Johnson. His one-timer from the point got past Luongo on the glove side at 1:08 of the second.
The Panthers answered quickly and Huberdeau got the equalizer at 2:49. Brad Boyes passed from behind the net to Huberdeau, who backhanded the puck into the net to make the score 1-all.
"I think it was a huge goal," Huberdeau said. "It was a good game and we found a way to get the two points. It was important for us."
NOTES: Florida C Aleksander Barkov has 10 points in his last 10 games after recording a second period assist. ... Panthers D Alex Petrovic played after being recalled from AHL San Antonio on Wednesday. ... D Dylan Olsen was put on waivers by the Panthers. ... Florida forward Shawn Thornton returned after missing 20 games with a groin injury. ... Blue Jackets C Artem Anisimov returned after missing 23 games with torn triceps.
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