Panthers rally past Jets
SUNRISE, Fla.—The Florida Panthers broke out of their scoring slump in a big way.
Alex Kovalev scored the go-ahead goal during Florida’s five-goal outburst in the third period, helping the Panthers rally for a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets last night.
Brian Campbell also scored and Jose Theodore stopped 22 shots to help Florida snap a five-game losing streak with its first win since the season-opener Jan. 19.
The six goals were one better than the five they totalled during the losing streak.
“We did some good things out there previous games and we knew we were moving in the right direction, and if we were just going to keep pushing eventually it was going to turn around and tonight was the night,” Kovalev said.
Tobias Enstrom, Olli Jokinen, and Grant Clitsome replied as the Jets dropped their second in a row following a three-game win streak.
Ondrej Pavelev had 28 saves for Winnipeg.
Trailing 3-2, Florida tied it on a goal by Mueller. Pavelev made a glove save on a shot by Filip Kuba, but the puck bounced out and Mueller grabbed it and poked it in at 11:20 of the third.
The Panthers went ahead 4-3 on the power play just over a minute later when Kovalev’s shot from the slot beat Pavelev.
Florida then stretched its lead to 5-3 at 15:29 when Huberdeau’s weak shot bounced off a defenceman and into the net.
Kopecky added an empty net goal late in the third for the final margin.
“That was the difference for me tonight,” said Panthers’ coach Kevin Dineen.
“You get down a goal and keep bouncing back.”
Winnipeg’s players felt they were in control until that final stretch of the third.
“We just didn’t play to win the game,” Pavelev admitted.
“The penalties killed us,” he stressed. “You can’t expect to win if you take those penalties. It’s very simple.
“They played a little bit better than us.”
“This is a tough league to win and if you take penalties, it gets even harder to win the games,” echoed Jokinen.
The Jets took a 3-2 lead at 7:38 of the third when Enstrom shot from just inside the left circle, beating Theodore on the glove side.
It was the last time they would lead in the game.
“You can slice it how you want,” said Jets’ coach Claude Noel.
“We’ve got the game in control, but it’s a 60-minute game and it came apart in the third period and they scored two power-play goals.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Toronto edged Washington 3-2, San Jose nipped Edmonton 3-2 (SO), Colorado doubled Calgary 6-3, Buffalo beat Boston 7-4, and Pittsburgh blanked the N.Y. Rangers 3-0.
Nashville nipped L.A. 2-1 (SO), St. Louis beat Columbus 4-1, and the N.Y. Islanders topped New Jersey 5-4 (OT).