Sunrise, FL – While the Florida Panthers had plenty of opportunity to capitalize in a game against a struggling, depleted Jets squad, the Cats came up short in an overtime loss to Winnipeg, falling by a score of 5-4 and snapping a three-game win streak.
Nothing to Thrash About
Florida is in the midst of a playoff push, and they seem to have gotten hot at the right time. The Cats are winners of three straight prior to the Jets matchup, including a dramatic overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks the day prior. Florida is also in the midst of a seven-game homestand that’ll continue until next Saturday.
On the flip side, the Winnipeg Jets are also looking to lock up a playoff spot. Entering the game with a 36-26-3 record, the Jets have not done well as of late, being the losers of seven of their last eight games, including two straight losses against the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild.
That said, Winnipeg has had their moments, including a 5-2 win against Florida back in early December. But with six players unable to play due to injury, (which explains their recent struggles) a matchup like this was one the Cats had to take advantage of.
A Bit of Jet-Lag
Florida was notably slow to begin the first period. Their passing was mediocre and their handling of the puck was sloppy. On top of that, they got into penalty trouble early. A cross-check call on the Panthers set up the Jets for success early, and a centered wrist shot by center Mark Scheifele produced the first score of the game nearly seven minutes in.
Perfect start for the power play ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/kWJsqwmvB7
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 12, 2023
It only got worse for the Cats after this. After a failed power play opportunity not long after, the Jets caught Sergei Bobrovsky napping when left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers shot a long-range snipe that grazed by Bob for a second goal nine minutes later.
A very interesting sequence of events unfolded. After the faceoff, left-winger Matthew Tkachuk accidentally skated into a referee, knocking him down and causing a stoppage of play. Not even a minute later, Tkachuk bulldozed his way into the net with the puck in his possession, netting an answer for Florida.
With momentum finally on their side, the Panthers kept up the pressure on offense leading the shots on goal, but an immediate high-sticking penalty gave Winnipeg the advantage once again.
After an onslaught of shots, it was center Vladislav Namestnikov who found an opening and gave the Jets a bit more breathing room, leading by a score of 3-1 heading into intermission.
Reaching for the Skies
After playing flat in the first 20 minutes of the game, the Panthers once again regained the momentum in the second period, a common occurrence this season.
The Cats caught a break when a tripping penalty was called on Winnipeg, and a two-man Florida breakaway was finished by center Sam Reinhardt finding an open spot on the right side of the net, cutting the lead down to 3-2 four minutes in.
PPG Reino 💥 pic.twitter.com/94NyE2EtyV
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 12, 2023
The Panthers ramped up the pressure on offense, but a combination of misaligned passing and solid Winnipeg defense limited Reinhardt’s goal as the only one for Florida in the period, even with another power play opportunity in between.
Bobrovsky didn’t have to deal with nearly as many shots on goal, but the Jets still found an opening nine minutes later. It was Namestnikov once again, capitalizing off a faceoff in Cats territory and a diving Bobrovsky was unable to lock up the right side of the net.
The Plane has Safely Landed
Florida once again took advantage of a breakaway 30 seconds into the third period, and when four Cats rushed to the other side of the ice, it was defenseman Mark Stall who capped it off with a wrist shot that slipped by the glove of Connor Hellebuyck, bring the game back to a one-goal difference.
The game hit the peak of physicality after a massive brawl resulted in multiple roughing penalties for both teams, along with an additional hooking call on Winnipeg setting up the Panthers in some shorthanded, 4 on 3 hockey.
Off a shot on goal, a quick shot by Tkachuk left Hellebuyck in the dust, and the Panthers finally tied the game up at four goals each. The next 14 minutes of the game were filled with opportunity, but neither team’s defense would budge, despite the shots on goal much in favor of Florida, forcing overtime.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they could not replicate the overtime win against Chicago the day prior. After four shots on goal were blocked away, the Cats and Jets were stalemated four minutes in, with shootouts on the horizon.
However, a last-minute breakaway for Winnipeg spelled trouble for Bobrovsky. After diving for a save off a shot by Scheifele, the center doubled down with a left-side snipe, sealing the game for the Jets by a score of 5-4.
Winner winner, chicken dinner!! 🍗 pic.twitter.com/EEudaaWixF
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 12, 2023
The Statistics are Cleared for Takeoff
A common theme for Florida this season is dominating the shots on goal but still finding ways to lose. It was no different here as the Cats racked up 48 shots compared to Winnipeg’s 27. In addition, the Panthers registered 37 hits, 35 faceoffs, and had two more power play opportunities than the Jets, but it still wasn’t enough.
Florida’s record drops to 33-27-7, though they still picked up a point for the standings. The Panthers are still on the outside looking in, three points behind the New York Islanders for the final Wild Card spot.
The Cats will look to bounce back on Thursday, March 16th against the Montreal Canadiens at 7 pm.
Photo | JC Ruiz
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