Aided by veteran newcomer Patric Hornqvist, the Florida Panthers are making history on their first road trip of the year.
Acquired last September in a trade with Pittsburgh, Hornqvist did what he does best Tuesday night -- screen and score in front of goaltenders -- to carry Florida to a 4-3 shootout win over Columbus that featured a miraculous rally in the final seconds capped by the 34-year-old Swedish forward.
With a mid-air swing, Hornqvist batted in a rebound of Aaron Ekblad's shot that hit goalie Joonas Korpisalo for the game-tying goal with three seconds left -- the second-latest game-tying goal in Florida history.
In the bottom of the shootout's fifth round, Hornqvist clinched two points with his first career shootout tally in seven tries.
Not a bad night for the vocal leader who was brought in from the Penguins as a net-front presence for Florida's offense.
The second-line right wing, who has five points (four goals, assist), became the first Panthers player to tally in each of his first three games.
His four goals tied Mike Hoffman (last season) and Scott Mellanby (1995-96) for the most through the first three games of a season.
Also, Florida achieved a first by winning its third straight game to open a campaign and will try to extend that mark to four on Thursday when it faces the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
Hornqvist's heroics aside -- he roofed in the game-winning shot high over Korpisalo's glove side -- the Panthers were at their best this season as they overcame a 2-0 first-period deficit.
In a game they dominated at times but wasn't reflected on the scoreboard, the Panthers produced 31 shots on goal to just 22 for Columbus -- despite having three fewer power plays.
"This was a huge win for us," Hornqvist said. "Over the 65 minutes, we played really good hockey, and when you keep doing that for that long you know it's going to get rewarded. ... We did the right things all over the ice for 65 minutes."
Added coach Joel Quenneville: "Start to finish we deserved that win tonight. We did a lot of great things."
One area Florida excelled in -- the penalty kill -- was conversely the Blue Jackets' biggest nemesis.
They failed to score on all six power plays, including an overtime one that gave them a four-on-three advantage after Florida's Frank Vatrano tripped Max Domi.
"We had a chance to win the game on the power play," said Columbus captain Nick Foligno. "We have to find a way. I'm tired of hearing the noise. There's enough skill on the power play to score goals."
However, a little help is on the way via Saturday's trade of Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets.
Center Jack Roslovic will debut with his hometown club in Thursday's series finale, but sniping right wing Patrik Laine remained in Canada awaiting a work visa.
The shootout loss featured a few good moments for Columbus, which has now registered points in five straight (2-0-3).
On the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list to start the season, Mikko Koivu recorded the primary assist on his first shift in his Columbus debut when Kevin Stenlund scored for a 1-0 lead.
Cam Atkinson netted his first marker when his short-handed shot beat former Columbus teammate Sergei Bobrovsky -- Florida's No. 1 goalie -- for a 3-2 lead early in the third.
Quenneville noted that backup goalie Chris Driedger will start Thursday.
--Field Level Media