Hellebuyck gets shutout in Bowness' return; Jets blank Panthers
Nino Niederreiter, Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry scored for the Jets in coach Rick Bowness’ return from personal leave. Winnipeg is 12-5-2 on the season and went 9-2-2 under interim coach Scott Arniel while Bowness was away.
“You can talk about all of the X's and O's you want but I just love the way we’re sticking up for each other,” Bowness said. “In these scrums, we’re right in the middle of it and there is a lot of heart in that room. There is a lot of camaraderie in that room and I love the culture we’ve got going here.”
Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the Panthers, who fell to 12-7-1.
The shutout was the first of the season for Hellebuyck, who had never before blanked the Panthers. It was the 33rd regular-season shutout of Hellebuyck's career.
“I think that’s a big confidence boost for him,” Niederreiter said of Hellebuyck. “He’s been playing some good hockey, he stopped a lot of pucks and he stood on his head.”
Florida was blanked on home ice for the first time in its last 127 games, including playoffs. It ended the longest streak of games with at least one goal at home in club history. Before Friday, the last time Florida was shut out in Sunrise was a 3-0 loss to Dallas on Feb. 24, 2021 — a game played before about 3,000 fans because of the pandemic.
“There’s factors, not excuses,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “There’s no excuse. We were (bad) tonight. The factor is that they get fired up. There are 15 games tonight, I think 13 of the road teams are going to win them because there’s too much turkey eaten by the home team. We brought a few drumsticks out on the ice tonight.”
As Maurice spoke, road teams were going 11-1-1 in the first 13 games that were completed Friday — some in routs. Tampa Bay won in Carolina 8-2, Nashville won 8-3 in St. Louis and Edmonton won 5-0 in Washington.
Winnipeg is now 4-0-0 in its last four games against Florida. That's the longest winning streak the Jets' franchise has enjoyed over the Panthers since Atlanta beat Florida on six consecutive occasions spanning 2006 and 2007. The Thrashers relocated and became the Jets after the 2010-11 season.
It was the first instance of back-to-back home losses this season for Florida, which got captain Aleksander Barkov in the lineup again. Barkov had missed two games with a knee issue, but skated throughout the week and was cleared to return.
Jets: Visit Nashville on Sunday.
Panthers: Visit Ottawa on Monday.
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