The Panthers were kind enough to spot the Jets a goal in the first period, a Nikolaj Ehlers (14) marker with assists from Dustin Byfuglien and Mathieu Perrault. Fortunately for the Cats, it was the only time that Third Star Roberto Luongo would be solved on the night. The elder statesman of NHL goaltenders stopped 30 shots. Jonathan Huberdeau was also injured in the opening frame, and only skated three shifts before hitting the showers. LBC will have more on him later.
Of course, the first period ended with the Jets sitting on a 1-0 lead, having outhit the Cats, 11-to-6. Florida had generated 21 Corsi events to only 12 for the Jets, with seven zone starts for each team. Derek MacKenzie surprises nobody by winning four-of-five faceoffs, while Vincent Trocheck had three-in-four success. Alex Petrovic led the Cats with only two hits.
Speaking of Luongo and "elder statesmen," the oldest guy in the major four sports leagues is (and has been) First Star Jaromir Jagr. He scored goals number 19 and 20 for the season, along with his career 741st and 742nd to pass Brett Hull.
Jagr tied the score at the 4:53 mark of the second frame with a nifty piece of on-the-tape passing from Dmitry Kulikov. Jussi Jokinen also earned an assist on the play. It was all the scoring either team could muster through the second intermission. The Panthers beat up the Jets, with 13 hits to only five, and DMac continued to own the faceoff dot, winning four-of-six.
The third period would see Second Star Reilly Smith capitalize on the power play for his 19th goal of the season for the good guys, while Kulikov earned his second assist on the night, and his ninth of the season at the 3:58 mark. Jagr scored his 20th of the season about 10 minutes later, with Jokinen's 29th assist of the campaign.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 28 shots in defeat for the Jets.
Flotsam and Jetsom
- Florida welcomes Kyle Rau (92) and Michael Matheson (56) to the fold, as both made their NHL debuts' against Winnipeg. Garrett Wilson, Greg McKegg, and Logan Shaw continue to earn playing time as well.
- Petrovic, of all people, topped all Panthers at plus-11 Corsi on the night.
- MacKenzie ended the night with 14-of-19 wins in the faceoff circle, while Trocheck was maybe even better, winning 10-of-12. The Cats won 38-of-53 faceoffs on the night in total, which is the best performance that I can remember.
- Nick Bjugstad, Jagr, and Trocheck each took seven shot attempts in total to lead the Panthers. Only Blake Wheeler matched them.
- Six different Panthers tied for the team lead with three hits each. Dustin Byfuglien had five to lead the Jets.
- Six Panthers (including two of the guys with three hits) eclipsed 20 minutes of time-on-ice for Florida. Jokinen (24:36), Trocheck (24:30), Kulikov (23:06), Jagr (22:06), Brian Campbell (22:06), and Petrovic (21:18) all met the standard, while Aaron Ekblad (19:54) fell just short.
75 points in 59 games for the Panthers is a mark only eclipsed by the eventual Stanley Cup runner's up in 1995-96. That team had 77 through 59, but we really have heard enough about them. They ended the season with 92, by the way, after closing on a 6-14-3 stretch before their run through the Eastern Conference. If you want more on the Jets, go to Arctic Ice Hockey. Five For Howling has more on Florida's next opponent, the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.