Winnipeg's 7-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night was not an outcome anyone would have predicted, especially when you take into account that nine of the last ten meetings between the two teams have been decided by one goal.
The win keeps the Jets in the race for top spot in the Southeast, although the Panthers do have three games in hand. The teams conclude the season series April 3rd in Florid, and they still lead the season series 3-1-1. For now though, Winnipeg's 20th home win of the year, puts the Jets back into the top eight in the East.
For the ninth time this season Evander Kane (25th) scored the game's first goal, with the Jets now scoring first in six of seven during this home stand. The Jets have one game left in their current home stand and have posted a 4-1-2 record.
Their final game at the MTS Centre is Monday at 7 pm against Buffalo. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). Jets are now 5-1-2 in their last eight.
Jim Slater scored 2:02 after Kane to make it 2-0 after one period of play. Tomas Fleischmann went one on one with Ondrej Pavelec twice in the opening period but came away empty handed.
Pavelec was outstanding in the second period stopping all 17 shots he faced. His 33 saves earned him his fourth shutout of the season and 10th of his career.
In the third period the Jets blew the game wide open with five goals, the sixth time the franchise has had a five goal period, the first this season.
Kyle Wellwood had a Mark Stuart shot go off his leg and in to make it 3-0, and 2:46 later, on a five on one (yes a 5 on 1), Bryan Little made it 4-0 and the route was on. The Panthers were pressing and a great defensive play by Blake Wheeler to break the play up and turn it up ice, lead to the play that no one could remember seeing at this level.
Wheeler to Randy Jones, back to Wheeler, across to Little, who potted his 19th goal, chasing starter Jose Theodore.
Nik Antropov added his second goal in as many games, and giving him 10 on the year, and was followed 12 seconds later by Kane's second of the night giving the Jets four goals in 6:29. Kane's fourth point of the night came on a Wheeler's 14th of the year to wrap up the scoring.
Wheeler has picked up 14 goals and 32 assists in his last 46 games and Kane extended his point streak to eight (7-7-14), a personal high and also the longest point streak for the team this season.
Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien had his seven game point streak and five straight multiple points steak come to an end, but was plus two on the night and is now a plus 10 in his last eight games.
Kane finished the night with nine shots on goal tying a career high he set earlier this year. Kane now has 46 points, which is a career high. Kane, Stuart and Jones were all a plus four in the game. Back to Antropov he is now 3-2-5 in six games this season against Florida and 15-18-33 in 42 career games against the Panthers.
The Jets power play was one for three and continues to be the number one rated home power play in the NHL. The penalty kill went three for three in the game.
Post Game Comments
"We pretty much had it from the get go, huge emphasis on trying to not only get the first goal, but get some momentum in our building," Wheeler said. "The fans make it tough on the opposition." F
"We prepared really well," Pavelec said. "Everybody knows it was a huge game for us."
"Our starts every period were good. Even in the second. (A Panther power play at 3:54 of the second allowed them to build some momentum for the rest of the period.) We are not going to get too carried away on the seven goals," head coach Claude Noel said. "Still have to focus on the task at hand. Don't get too low when you lose to Edmonton or the Islanders, don't get too high when you win 7-0. Pavelec was poised, relaxed, battled to see pucks, our back pressure was good as was our tracking. The third goal was a big one."