The Florida Panthers kept the bear hunt alive with a big 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at the BB&T Center. The victory allowed the Cats to finish off the season-high, seven-game homestand with a 4-2-1 record.
Florida actually got off to good start in this one before going into hibernation mode for about ten minutes. The Jets carried the play, but didn't test starter Dan Ellis too often. The Cats woke back up to bag the game's first goal at 16:28 and it was a dandy. Dave Bolland fed a streaking Derek MacKenzie, who laid out and deflected the puck off Michael Hutchinson's shoulder and into the net. Shawn Thornton picked up the second assist on MacKenzie's fifth of the season. The Panthers buzzed Hutchinson the rest of the way to finish with an 8-6 advantage in shots.
The first half of the second period was pretty uneventful. The Panthers killed off a Jets power play before getting one of their own, thanks to a cross-checking minor on Toby Enstrom. The Cats failed to muster a shot on goal and paid for it ten seconds after the penalty expired when Mark Scheifele sniped one past Ellis. Blake Wheeler and Adam Pardy collected the helpers on the young forward's eleventh goal. The Cats responded to the Winnipeg score, pressuring Hutchinson and drawing a second man-advantage chance. This time the power play clicked with Brad Boyes knocking the puck into a yawning net from in close, with the assists going to Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir "Moves Like" Jagr at 17:07. Enstrom returned to the sin bin late in the frame, but the Cats couldn't convert before the buzzer sounded.
The Jets killed off the remaining 49 seconds of Enstrom's penalty to start the final frame. The Cats had some good chances early, but Hutchinson came up big, and got some help when Nick Bjugstad missed an empty-net, to keep it a one-goal game. Winnipeg tied the tilt at the 6:13 mark when Drew Stafford gathered a bouncing puck and put it off the post and by a helpless Ellis, Michael Frolik and Jiri Tlusty recorded the helpers on the even-strength marker.The Cats penalty-kill came up big, negating an unsportsmanlike conduct call midway through the stanza. The game-winner came with 3:53 remaining in regulation, when Huberdeau and Jagr combined to set up Aleksander Barkov for a pretty wrist shot. The assist was Huberdeau's 100th career point. Bjugstad completed the scoring with a shot into an empty Jets cage after a Jussi Jokinen steal. Ellis finished with 18 stops to pick up his second win in a row, while Winnipeg goaler Hutchinson turned aside 16 of the 19 shots he faced.
Let go of your feelings in the comment section and join us tomorrow for the A.M. Recap. Good night from the BB&T!