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Panthers shoot for much-needed win against Blue Jackets

(Sports Network) - The Florida Panthers aren't making things easy on themselves.

After giving away a point last time out, the Panthers try to avoid a fifth loss in six games this evening as they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Florida has put together a 1-1-3 mark over its past five outings, but still leads Washington by four points for first place in the Southeast Division. The Panthers have five games left to play, one more than the idle Capitals.

The Panthers certainly feel like they should be up by five over the Caps, but a poor finish last night in Minnesota cost them. Florida was up by a goal late in regulation, but the Wild tied the game with 30.3 seconds left and then scored the winner 15 ticks into overtime.

"It's deflating," said Panthers forward Scottie Upshall. "It really takes the wind out of your sails when someone gets a big goal to tie it up late and then scores on the first shift of overtime."

Upshall and Tomas Fleischmann scored for Florida, which has split the first two of a four-game road trip and fell to 17-15-6 as the guest.

The Panthers' past four games have gone beyond regulation and that was also the case in their two meetings with the Blue Jackets a season ago. Columbus logged an overtime victory in Florida and a shootout triumph at home, giving it a victory in four straight versus the Panthers.

Columbus has won five of the past seven meetings overall with Florida and the last two encounters at home.

The Blue Jackets won for only the third time in their past 10 games, splitting a home-and-home series with the Red Wings by taking Wednesday's matchup in Columbus by a 4-2 margin. That came two days after suffering a 7-2 loss in Detroit.

After starter Steve Mason suffered an upper-body injury in practice, Allen York made his first start since Oct. 29 and posted 29 saves -- 17 in the third period -- to log his first NHL victory in what was his eighth appearance.

"It was awesome. The boys played unreal," said York. "All three periods they were great. I was having a real good practice and just tried to keep it going from there. I tried to treat it like a normal game day, but couldn't take my usual pre-game nap. You just try to stay patient, stay on your feet."

R.J. Umberger had a goal and an assist in Wednesday's win, while Derek Dorsett, Vinny Prospal and Derick Brassard also tallied.

03/30 11:13:34 ET

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