Jets rally for 4-3 shootout win over frustrated Panthers

Mathieu Perreault ends it in round six

Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves and Mathieu Perreault scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers at the MTS Centre.

Much like they did Tuesday night in St. Paul, the Panthers carried the play in the opening period (out-shooting the Jets 19-8), but found themselves down a goal after Dustin Byfuglien scored with 11 seconds left in the frame.

Byfuglien activated in his own zone, eventually getting a stride ahead of Paul Thompson on the other end, to convert a nice cross-ice feed from rookie Patrik Laine. Perreault drew the secondary assist on the play.

The Panthers evened the game 4:51 into the second on a power-play goal from Aleksander Barkov. Barkov was able to get loose in front and swat the rebound of Nick Bjugstad’s shot into the net. Jaromir Jagr also drew an assist on Barkov’s seventh of the year.

Florida struck again with the man-advantage 3:45 later. After taking a pass from Seth Griffith, Reilly Smith got himself into shooting position in the left circle and ripped a wrister by a screened Hellebuyck to give his team the lead. The second assist on the play went to defenseman Keith Yandle.

Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry scored on a rebound to tie things up at the 10:11 mark. Paul Postma’s shot from the point was stopped by Roberto Luongo, but a determined Lowry was able to keep whacking and knock the puck home. Brandon Tanev started the play by collecting the rebound of a Laine shot and getting it back to Postma.

The Cats regained the lead when their power play clicked for a third straight time. Aaron Ekblad pinged a shot off the post after taking a pretty backhand pass from Smith and Vincent Trocheck was able to bury the rebound into the beckoning twine just 1:47 after the Lowry goal.

The Jets would force the eventual overtime when Bryan Little beat Luogno 2:36 into the final frame to complete a nice passing play involving Wheeler and Byfuglien. Byfuglien dropped the puck to Wheeler, who froze Luongo before dishing cross-ice to Little for the put-away.

After Trocheck opened the shootout with a goal, Little prolonged it with a third-round conversion before Perreault won it in the sixth by showing off his hands while slowly moving in on Luongo and finishing on the forehand.

The snake-bitten Panthers will get right back at it tonight and will be looking to salvage the three-game road trip with a win against the reeling Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Pitch & Yaw

  • Three remains a magic number for the Panthers. Yeah, Winnipeg got the bonus point, but Florida is now 9-0-3 this season when they put up three or more goals.
  • Jaromir Jagr’s helper was his 1,884 career point and moved him within three of tying Mark Messier for second all-time in NHL scoring.
  • The Cats entered the game on a 1 for 25 power-play drought before exploding for three goals in the second period. More of this please!
  • Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom was in the penalty box for all three Florida goals. A rough night for the usually reliable Enstrom.
  • Reilly Smith’s goal and an assist performance was his first multi-point game of the 2016-17 season. Smith now has points in six of his last eight games.
  • Vincent Trocheck and Nikolaj Ehlers led all skaters with six shots on goal. Trocheck went 14 for 24 on faceoffs.
  • Roberto Luongo made 29 saves, including a big pad stop on Ehlers in the third to keep the game tied.
  • Nick Bjugstad’s assist was his first point since he returned to the lineup twelve games ago.
  • Arctic Ice Hockey has more on Winnipeg’s chill out of Florida in game one of two between the former Southeast rivals./