Jets pound Panthers 7-2 Featured

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Winnipeg, Manitoba (NHN)-Kyle Connor scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Florida Panthers 5-2 Sunday night.

Matthieu Perreault had a goal and two assists for Winnipeg, who won for the third straight game and 6th time on their current ten game home stand (6-2-1).

The Jets have no trouble scoring, finding the back of the net 13 times in the last two games alone and five times in the third period on this night.

Currently Winnipeg sits atop the NHL's Central Division with 79 points, two ahead of the Nashville Predators.

Patrick Laine and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist for the Jets.

Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele added singles.

Blake Wheeler had three assists for Winnipeg, the Jet captain has 13 points his last nine contests and extended his point streak to five games.

In fact, Wheeler sits in 2nd overall in assists in the NHL with 51 helpers, trailing only Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek by three. Tyler Myers also had a pair of assists for Winnipeg.

Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 25 shots for the Jets, who moved to 35-15-9.

Denis Malgin and Alexander Barkov scored for Florida.

James Reimer made 27 saves for the Panthers, who dropped to 26-24-6.

Denis Malgin opened the scoring on the power play at 8:57 when he took a feed from Mike Matheson along the side boards before moving in and snapping a wrister past a screened Connor Hellebuyck, beating him high blocker side to make it 1-0 Florida.

The goal was his 10th of the season.

Kyle Connor tied the game at 12:06, just thirteen seconds into the Jets first power play of the game, hammering a cross-crease pass from Blake Wheeler past Florida goaltender James Reimer to make it 1-1.

Nikolaj Ehlers gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead 4:39 into the 2nd period, handcuffing Reimer with a shot that ended up in the Panther net.

Jets defenceman Tyler Myers rang the puck around the boards on a shoot-in as Ehlers fired the puck from the left side boards as he arrived. The shot gave Reimer trouble as he intially stopped it with his elbow but the disc arched up and bounced off of his back before ending up behind him in the Florida net.

The goal was Ehlers' 23rd of the season.

Alexander Barkov tied the game on the power play at 7:34, tipping a puck past Hellebuyck from right in front of the Winnipeg goal.

Evgeni Dadonov had initially knocked the puck out of the air from the high slot before Barkov got his stick on the disc on the way past.

The goal was his 20th of the season.

Mark Scheifele restored Winnipeg's one goal lead at 18:29 of the second period to make it 3-2. Wheeler got hold of the puck inside the faceoff circle before feeding Scheifele who fired a wrister past Reimer to score his 18th of the season.

Kyle Connor fired his second goal of the game 3:38 into the third period when Blake Wheeler fed him as he sped into the slot.

The goal was his 21st of the season.

Bryan Little made it 5-2 just over six minutes into the third, banking a backhand shot off of Florida defenceman Alexander Petrovic at 6:03.

Matthieu Perreault scored an insurance marker at 15:27 to make it 6-2, taking a feed from Jack Roslovic before moving in and firing a high wrister past Reimer to seal the win for the Jets.

Patrick Laine scored with 1:35 remainding to make it 7-2 Winnipeg.

The goal was his 27th of the season.

Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice was happy with the outcome of the game and had nothing but praise for his captain.

“Everybody else wants to play with him. He’s dynamic, with that speed. You don’t get to play off of Blake Wheeler. When he’s got the puck, sometimes there are (players) that can almost lead him to the outside and cover off where they are going with the puck, but if you’re not on him he’s taking it to the net. Because of that speed, that size, that strength he just draws people and they have to cover him off and it just makes for so much more open ice out there. He does a marvellous job of finding that hole. It’s unusual in that his passing quality almost gets higher the faster he is going. He makes that play at high-end speed and he’s very dangerous.”

Florida Head Coach Bob Boughner said he was pleased with his team's resolve until late in the second period when the wheels fell off the Panthers.

"We played a lot of back-to-backs but less than 24 hours with time change that's a little different. I think that that's tough. I said the back-to-back situation with the time change mean they (Jets) are sitting on here waiting," said Boughner.

"You know again I wasn't unhappy at 2-2 with 90 seconds to go in the second period even though we didn't have great legs I thought that we were managing the game okay. It got away from us in the third and that's when the back-to-back hurts I think. In the third period and that's when you're chasing and that’s when the brain starts going on you."

Both clubs are off until Tuesday when the Jets wrap up their ten-game home stand against the Los Angeles Kings while the Panthers visit Toronto.


Last modified on Monday, 19 February 2018 05:00
Philip Paul-Martin

A well rounded journalist with experience in both print and broadcast mediums, Philip has written news stories with impact, broken national news while at the CBC, anchored radio news and hosted talk show radio. His coverage includes feature writing, game stories and more in-depth pieces during the off-season as well as writing about the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets. He calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home.