The Florida Panthers home woes continued in Wednesday’s night 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The defeat was the club’s fifth straight at the BB&T Center.
After a scoreless first period, Shawn Matthias was left alone by the Florida defense after an Adam Lowry face-off win and was able to deflect Paul Postma’s shot from the high slot by Roberto Luongo for the game’s first goal 5:03 into the second.
The Jets added to the lead 2:21 later when Bryan Little stole the puck from defenseman Mike Matheson in front and fed Patrik Laine, who easily fired home his team-leading 21st of the season.
Florida cut the deficit in half when Greg McKegg notched his first of the campaign with 1:42 left in the middle frame. After Aaron Ekblad knocked down the puck in the neutral zone, Jaromir Jagr chipped it up to McKegg and he skated in on Connor Hellebuyck and beat him with a sweet shot just inside the post on the blocker side.
Winnipeg took back the momentum and regained its two-goal advantage 2:46 into the third. Little picked up his second helper when he was able to fend off Matheson along the boards and make a nice pass to Nikolaj Ehlers, who ripped the set up by Luongo from left circle.
Mark Scheifele put the game away at the 12:46 mark by sneaking out from behind the cage and backhanding the rebound of Jacob Trouba’s shot over Luongo’s glove . Laine registered the secondary assist for his second point of the night.
Hellebuyck finished with 31 saves and came up with key stops on Ekblad in the second and McKegg in the third to keep his team in control of the scoreboard.
The Panthers got off to slow start and after falling behind by two, were never able to recover. The members of Winnipeg’s top line each collected a goal, while the Cats struggles to score continued unabated. The Nashville Predators will visit on Friday. Florida needs a win to restore some home ice mojo and avoid falling back to .500.
Pitch & Yaw
- Jaromir Jagr’s assist on the McKegg goal was the 1,136th of his career, giving him sole possession of fifth place all-time in that category. Ray Bourque is fourth with 1,169.
- Patrik Laine’s goal and assist performance put him in first place in rookie scoring with 36 points, two better than Toronto’s Auston Matthews.
- The Jets certainly enjoyed their trip to Florida. The back-to-back wins in Tampa and Sunrise put the team back at .500 with a 19-19-3 record.
- Once again, Roberto Luongo failed to move past Terry Sawchuk on the all-time wins list. Lu stopped 35 shots, but some shoddy defense from Mike Matheson, who could be directly faulted on three of the goals, made it a long night for the veteran keeper.
- The good: Keith Yandle played in his 700th game. The bad: Yandle finished with an ugly -3 rating.
- The injury-riddled Cats lost another skater when Seth Griffith left the ice early in the game after taking a hit to the head from Nikolaj Ehlers. Tome Rowe called it a dirty hit and said Griffith has a concussion.
- Blueliners Jacob Trouba and Aaron Ekblad delivered strong performances for their respective teams. Each had an assist and a game-high six shots on goal. Trouba added three blocks, two hits and went +2, while Eggs had one hit and was the only Panther to finish with a plus rating.
- Brave the chill of Arctic Ice Hockey for the other side of Winnipeg’s second straight over Florida.