SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Johansen scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period to and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Florida Panthers for the eighth straight time, 3-2 on Saturday night.
Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves.
Jimmy Hayes and Vincent Trocheck scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo stopped 35 shots.
The Blue Jackets clinched the first wild-card spot and will face Pittsburgh in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Philadelphia’s 4-3 overtime win over Pittsburgh earlier Saturday clinched third place in the Metropolitan Division for the Flyers and forced Columbus to the wild-card spot.
Johansen’s 33rd goal of the season, a one-timer from the left circle, got past Luongo at 5:58 of the third period to put Columbus ahead.
Hayes’ goal in the second period gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Hayes grabbed a loose puck in the Columbus zone, brought it down the boards on the right side and his shot from the right circle beat Bobrovsky at 6:35.
Columbus tied it at 2 on a power-play goal by Letestu at 10:13 of the second as his wrist shot from the right circle got to the net just as Luongo’s stick was knocked loose by a Columbus player.
The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds in when Atkinson took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky from the left circle to the right of the crease and tapped it in.
The Panthers tied it 1-all when Trocheck scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway. His shot from the slot trickled under the Bobrovsky’s pads with about a minute left in the first. It was the Panthers’ fourth short-handed goal in their past seven games.
Florida captain Ed Jovanovski’s season ended early as he received a game misconduct for an elbow to Corey Tropp with under four minutes left in the first.
NOTES: Blue Jackets D Nikita Nikitin returned to the lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury. … Panthers C Brandon Pirri has a five-game point-scoring streak. … The Panthers were outshot 16-3 during one stretch in the first period. … Nick Bjugstad finished the season as the Panthers’ leading scorer with 38 points, an NHL record for the fewest points to lead a team. The Panthers became the first team since the 2000-01 Minnesota Wild to go an 82-game season without a 40-point scorer.