All good things must come to an end I suppose, which is exactly what happened last night when the Florida Panthers fell 5-2 to the Winnipeg Jets, snapping a five-game winning streak, their longest since March 2012.
Special teams turned out to be the difference in the game as the Jets scored two power play goals 33 seconds apart in the first period to stretch their lead to 3-1. The goals, scored by Tobias Enstrom and Blake Wheeler, gave the Jets a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the night.
After going 4-0 in December against teams on the second game of a back-to-back, the Panthers were on the other end of the blade last night as they played the Senators on Thursday night before arriving in Winnipeg at 3 a.m. Friday morning for their game against the Jets. In addition to the game being the second of a back-to-back, it was also the last of a four game road trip through Canada that started in Montreal on Sunday. The tough schedule appeared to be taking its toll as the Panthers were outshot 32-23.
Jacob Markstrom got his first start with the Panthers since November 5. He allowed five goals on 32 shots, dropping his Panther record to 1-6-3 this season. Markstrom got the nod in net over Scott Clemmensen who had started the previous four games, all Panther wins.
Shawn Matthias got the scoring started for the Panthers at 7:45 into the first with his fourth goal of the season. The goal put the Panthers up 1-0 and also snapped a 14-game goalless streak for Matthais. The Jets would get the next four goals before Nick Bjugstad found the back of the net in the second period with his seventh of the year. Ex-Panther Michael Frolik put the game on ice at 17:53 into the second frame with a goal that extended the Jets lead to 5-2.
The Jets improved to 16-16-5 with the win while the Panthers fell to 14-18-5. Florida’s 33 points has them one point behind the Senators for 6th in the Atlantic Division and six points behind the Maple Leafs for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida returns home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, their last game before a four-day break for Christmas.