The first period at the MTS Centre on Saturday night was not the start the Winnipeg Jets wanted.
It was statistically a good period for the Jets as they outshot the Panthers 15-10, won 70 per cent of the face-offs, and had five shots on goal from Zac Bogosian, who was back in the lineup after missing five games.
Whoever, they did not score on a 5 on 3 power-play , and two Panther goals that came off Jets giveaways are areas Coach Claude Noel will not be happy with.
The Jets are now one for eight in situations where they have a 5 on 3.
Winnipeg dominated and scored the only goal on the second period. They outshot the Panthers 15-7, capitalized on their first power play of the period, killed two penalties, and started the third period on the power play.
Nik Antropov scored his 7th of the year, and has now scored in back to back games after snapping a 13 game goalless drought against Buffalo Thursday. Kyle Wellwood, made a great read to pick off a clearing attempt, extended his point streak to four games with the assist, and now has five assists in four games.
The third period was another strong one for the Jets, but another turnover stung them. Antropov scored his second of the game (3 in his last 2 games) on a great individual effort down low to tie the game. In 40 career games against the Panthers Antropov is 14-18-32. But 57 seconds after the Jets tied it, a Toby Enstrom pass up the middle was picked off by Kris Versteeg. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec got a piece of it but Versteeg's 19th of the year and fifth in two games against the Jets, again gave the Panthers the lead.
Enstrom redeemed himself by being key in Alexander Burmistrov's goal that again tied the game. Enstrom made a great pass from the right point to Burmistrov at the left side of the net, and even though Scott Clemmenson (who was great in this game) got a piece of it, Burmistrov snapped a 10 game goalless drought with his 9th of the year.
Coach Noel moved Burmnistrov on the Little/Wheeler line, with Fehr, Thorburn and Cormier not seeing any time in the third. Shots after regulation were 40-20 in favour of the Jets, but for the second time in three meetings the Jets and Panthers were headed for overtime. Clemmenson made a terrific save off Johnny Oduya in the extra period, and the teams were headed to their second shootout in head to head games. It was a seven round marathon that ended with Mikael Samuelson's goal. Jets were 2/7 with goals from Wellwood and Wheeler, Panthers were 3/7 with Versteeg and Santorelli getting the other goals. Final score 4-3 Florida.
Bogosian ended the night with a career high 9 shots on goal, but directed 18 at Clemmenson. Eight of his shots were blocked, another missed the net. Bogosian lead the Jets in ice time with 25:19. Wellwood extended his point streak to 4, with 6 assists in that stretch.
There were some different looks for the Jets with Bogosian back in, and Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton out. Early diagnosis on Kane is a concussion, although it is not known when it may have occurred, also not known how long it will keep him out of the line-up. Coach Noel did say Kane was feeling better. Stapleton has been bothered by a lower body injury and was kept out.
As a result Patrice Cormier was recalled from St. John's and was in the line-up. Dustin Byfuglien has skated with the team the past two days as he tries to get used to wearing a knee brace for the first time in his career, and it's still not certain if Byfuglien will accompany the team on a two game road trip.
Byfuglien has been selected to play in the All-Star game but did say "what's best for the team comes ahead of the all-star game."
The Jets will now play six straight on the road, two before the All-Star break (Carolina on Monday and the New York Rangers Tuesday, TSN Jets, TSN 1290). The four games after the break will see the team play in Philadelphia, Tampa, Florida and Montreal.
"With not a lot of pressure we served up three pizza's that ended up in our net," lamented Coach Noel post game. "But we are not going to beat ourselves up on this game. We got a point and we'll move forward from that. Two points would have capped off the night, but we battled to get ourselves back in the game."
Coach did not feel the shootout loss was a setback.
"When we tied it 2-2 we wanted to get the puck in and keep the heat on them. You feel for the player on the giveaway," continued the Coach. "Three goals should have been enough to win the game. We haven't served up three pizza's like that all year."
Other comments from the Coach, "Antropov's line was good again, the Little line seemed to get bogged down so I juggled the lines and put Burmistrov there and he seemed to be a good fit, Bogosian had a pretty good game for his first game back."
Jets are now 4 points back of the Panthers who after the win took over the lead in the Southeast Division.