Each time Artemi Panarin grabs the puck in a shootout, the expectation now is that he'll score a goal. Maybe it'll be with a slick little forehand-backhand deke. Maybe he'll roof a shot off the backhand. Maybe he'll give a head fake and just blow it by the goalie off the forehand. "I just think he feels comfortable, and when he's going down there I think he's just creative," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I think it just comes to him. I don't think he's overthinking it. I just think he plays." Also, he scores. A lot. After scoring the lone goal in the Blue Jackets' 2-1 shootout win Thursday at Nationwide Arena, Panarin leads the NHL with five shootout goals. He's 5-for-9 for a blistering 55.6 percent success rate, and improved to 10-for-16 in two-plus NHL seasons (62.5 percent). It's a major advantage for Columbus, which leads the NHL with a 12-0-3 record in games that go beyond regulation - including 6-0-3 in nine shootouts. "I don't think too many goalies let in two in those things there," Tortorella said. "You [want to] get a quick lead. I remember when the rule came in, you had your choice of who goes first, who goes second. A lot of teams - there was an analytic, I guess - that you'd [rather] go second. I like going first, because you want to get a lead." Having Panarin helps with that, especially after Cam Atkinson went down with a fractured bone in his foot two days before Christmas. Columbus also added veteran forward Jussi Jokinen to the mix Wednesday, via waivers, and he's got a strong track record in shootouts too.
Panarin's shootout prowess paying off for Jackets
NHL.com | Jan 21