After a crucial victory in Calgary last night, the Florida Panthers knew that this match against the Winnipeg Jets would be a must-win game for them.
For this game, the Panthers decided that James Reimer would fill in between the pipes, while the Winnipeg Jets went with Connor Hellebuyck. Sitting six points underneath the last wild card spot, the Panthers desperately needed the two points against this strong Winnipeg side.
The game started off with Winnipeg pouring pressure down deep in the Panthers zone, causing havoc in front of goal. Thanks to James Reimer’s solid play, the score remained tied at zero for the time being.
As the game progressed, so did the Panthers’ play. More time in the Jets’ zone was seen, as well as more shots towards Hellebuyck’s way. Eventually, the Cats caught a break when Tyler Myers tripped Evgeni Dadonov, sending the Panthers to the man advantage.
Florida’s power play saw some great looks early on, but unfortunately there was no finish. With the first unit setting the tempo, it allowed the second unit to cash in, taking the lead before the halfway mark.
Denis Malgin, who’s been seeing some playing time on the Panthers’ second power play unit, walked in and sniped a shot past Connor Hellebuyck’s blocker, giving the Florida Panthers a 1-0 lead:
Five minutes later, Mark Pysyk was called for boarding on Matthieu Perreault, gifting the Jets a power play opportunity. As dangerous as the Jets have been this season, they managed to find an equalizer on the man advantage.
Both sides managed to keep each other off the scoreboard for the remainder of the first, with the Panthers heading into the locker room tied at one, after one.
The second period began just like the first did, with the Jets controlling play in the Panthers’ zone early on. James Reimer stopped every shot that went his way, but there was only so much he could handle.
Four and a half minutes in and the Jets took their first lead of the night. Nikolaj Ehlers threw a shot from an odd angle which deflected off of Reimer’s mask, rolling off his back and into the net. It was surely a play that Reimer would love to have back:
A few minutes later, the Panthers equalized on the man advantage. As Tyler Myers flicked the puck up into the air, Evgeni Dadonov baseball batted the puck in mid-air, which soared off Barkov and in. Needless to say, it was a pretty impressive play from the Russian winger himself, which created Barkov’s goal:
The Panthers came awfully close to taking the lead through Derek MacKenzie, but unfortunately Hellebuyck had his say, robbing DMac entirely. What should have been a clear goal, wasn’t. The game remained tied at two for the time being, courtesy of Connor Hellebuyck.
What that game-changing save did lead to was a third Winnipeg Jets goal. With a minute and a half left in the second period, Mark Scheifele quickly one-timed a shot past James Reimer, regaining his side’s lead (3-2):
Scheifele’s goal would send the Jets into the dressing room, up by one after two. The Panthers on the other hand played a decent period, creating some chances in front of goal. The upcoming period would be critical for the Cats, as they were down a goal in what was a crucial match.
Unlike the first two periods, the Panthers started the third off strong, pinning the Jets into their own zone for quite some time. Some scoring chances came out of their strong pressure, but it was the lack of finishing that kept Winnipeg in the lead.
Unfortunately, the Panthers got caught with a bad break in their own zone, when Kyle Connor recorded his second of the night, giving his side a two-goal lead:
Minutes later, the Jets tripled their lead courtesy of Bryan Little. Little received a beautiful pass from Tyler Myers in front, where Little deked around Reimer and slotted home his team’s fifth goal.
As the game started to slip out of Florida’s hands, the Jets continued to run up the score. Winnipeg added a sixth, thanks to Matthieu Perreault, who walked into the Panthers’ zone and sniped a shot past Reimer’s blocker:
The Jets weren’t finished there as Patrik Laine added some more salt to the Panthers’ wound. The Finnish winger would go on to notch his 27th of the year, giving the Winnipeg Jets a 7-2 victory over the Cats.
Overall, the Florida Panthers played some solid hockey throughout the first two periods, but completely fell off in the third. Your Panthers are back in action on Tuesday, February 20th @7:00pm against the Toronto Maple Leafs!