Merzlikins entered Game 3 of the series midway through the second period on Thursday with his team facing a 3-0 deficit. The rookie netminder dazzled, stopping all 21 shots while steering the Blue Jackets to an impressive comeback victory.
Joonas Korpisalo got the nod for the first three games of the series, and played extremely well for the most part. He stopped 76 of 81 shots through two and a half games, including one shutout. Overall, he put together a 2.05 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
During the 2019-20 season, Merzlikins managed a 13-9-8 record with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. After starting the season with eight straight losses, the Latvian goalie caught fire later on. He put together a dominant stretch of play in the new year that included eight straight victories in which he collected five shutouts.
Columbus will take on the Maple Leafs in Game 4 of their qualifying series on Friday at 8 p.m ET. Columbus leads the best-of-five series 2-1.