Three days "off" but it's back to work for the Cats as Thursday night features their final divisional match against the Jets/Thrashers franchise. Dating back to the 1999-2000 season, the series has Florida "up" 31-30 but throw in overtime- & shootout-losses and the historical timeline skews toward Winnipeg/Atlanta with a Panthers record of 31-42 and five pre-2005 ties.
Over the life of this particular "rivalry" Florida scored 211 goals while allowing 243 (or 247 when adjusting for non-recorded SO tallies), but in the 10 games since relocation two seasons ago a bit more balance has been in evidence: 4-1 in regulation time (that lone black mark being of the 7-0 road-blowout variety in March of 2012) and 4 extra-session losses (1 in the shootout). Goals for/against? 32/32; no domination from either end but if there's anything learned from the past 24 months it's closing out the Jets in 60 minutes or doom awaits. In 2013 the clubs have split the four games with Florida's two victories coming in regulation (10-4 goal differential) vs Winny's dual 3-2 OT outcomes. The Cats have not won at MTS Centre since January of last year, a relatively short span of two games.
In any case: good riddance. Enjoy the West.
Still awaiting concrete word on tonight's starters but it's almost unimaginable that Dino wouldn't employ Jacob Markstrom (1-0-1; 1.93/.932 vs WPG) after a five-day layoff. Ondrej Pavelec (9-4; 2.64/.914/1 SO vs FLA) stopped 29 shots Tuesday in a victory over Buffalo. Former Panther Mike Santorelli has one assist since being claimed off waivers by Winnipeg a week ago.
Update: Marky first off practice ice, and Pavs confirmed in net.
For more on the Jets do check out SB Nation's Arctic Ice Hockey as well as our longtime pals at Illegal Curve. The LBC Live GameThread gets rockin' at 7:30.