The Jets got off to a strong start, going 2-0 in the first, but let the Panthers battle back to force OT before big Dustin Byfuglien wired home a winner in the extra period.
With both teams playing back to back games after a night of travel, the Winnipeg Jets took on the Florida Panthers on their third game of a four game road trip Friday night.
The first period saw the Jets get the kind of start they likely were hoping for on Tuesday when these teams last met. Captain Andrew Ladd opened the scoring just 2:35 into the game, despite the net crashing efforts of Blake Wheeler, as a wrister got through Jacob Markstrom and squeaked over the line before Wheels knocked the net off it's moorings. The first "slashing" call of the night went to Jim Slater 8:37 in, as he got called when a Florida player was to feeble to hold onto their stick. A bad call, but the much improved Jets penalty kill stood tall and killed it off. That kill was important, as Blake Wheeler would absolutely snipe a shot when left to walk into the slot unchallenged. The Jets would fail to escape the period with a 2-0 lead, as Jonathan Huberdeau notched his 12th of the season to make it 2-1 with just 14.8 seconds left on the clock, as the Jets ended the period on a sloppy note. The Jets may have been a little peeved, as Nolan Yonkman first intered with Eric Tangradi then instigated a fight, yet escaped earning a penalty for either infraction with 38 seconds left in the period.
The Jets killed their 19th consecutive penalty when AC Slater ended up in the box again for knocking a stick out of a the hands of a Panther. The best chance of the PK actually went to James Wright was denied by a glorious glove save by Markstrom, leaving Wright still in search of his first goal as a Jet. The Jets would get a power play attempt of their own, but the chances all went to the worst penalty kill unit in the league, as the Jets continue to implode with the extra man. A Kyle Wellwood penalty ended the powerplay, who were a man down going into the second intermission. Fenwick will surely tell the talk of the last 10 minutes of this period, as the Jets started the period strong, but faded mightily down the stretch.
The Jets managed to kill the penalty off, their 20th in a row, but still started slowly. The Jets took some time to get going, with Ladd and Wheels getting chances, but with 14:10 left Shawn Matthias tied it up when a terrible attempt to leave the zone by Grant Clitsome resulted in a turnover and a 2 on 1 that Buff and Pavelec were unable to stop, as the Jets saw their 2 goal lead disappear, as it was all tied up 5:50 into the period. The wheels continued to fall off the bus as Zach Bogosian was called for holding with 9:18 left. It wasn't the best kill of the night for the Jets, but it still worked as they escaped with the score still 2-2. Despite some ugly play, both teams managed to make it to OT.
With nothing much brewing, it appeared as though this game would head to shootout, and likely 3 gloveside high goals against Pavelec. Nobody told Dustin Byfuglien, however, as he walked off the left halfboards, dipsy doodled through a few Panther players and then snapped a shot by Markstrom to win it 3-2 with 41 seconds left in the extra frame.
Hold on to your stick: I cannot begin to express how maddening it is when a player can't hold onto his stick, but manages to draw a "slashing" penalty. I hope the refs (looking at you, Tom Kowal) realize how dumb they look when they reward that play.
Hold on to the lead: The Jets quickly made it 2-0 in the first period, but let their foot off the gas and let the Panthers claw their way back into the contest, giving a division rival
Mittens-Antro-Tangradi: I highly doubt there is a worse third line in the NHL. Antti Miettinen, Nik Antropov and Eric Tangradi would be hard pressed to find 4th line time on most teams, yet here they are as the Jets' 3rd unit.
Pavelectric: Say what you will about him, but he rarely has an average game. He's either atrocious as he was on Tuesday in Florida, or lights out terrific as he was tonight in Florida. He made numerous game saving saves that kept the Jets in this game. 38 of 40 shots in a great effort that will temporarily silence some o the critics. But not the good ones.
The other net: Markstrom was shaky again, as one could argue that two of his goals were savable, as the Jets solved him 3 times on 28 shots.
Big Wheels: A beauty of a snipe by Blake Wheeler put the Jets up 2-0. He can be absolutely deadly when he's on, but it's the slumps in between that concern me. He seemed to be off to a rocky start, as he almost cost teh Jets a goal when he knocked the Panthers net off just after the puck crossed the line, but he looked in fine form
Oh Captain, My Captain: Andrew Ladd now has 24 points on the year in 24 games, as he hits the halfway point of the year at a point per game pace. He leads the team in goals, assists and points, and
Big Buff: He literally looked like he decided to end it in OT. Grabbed the puck, dangled everybody like they were in Peewee, and laced a shot in to give the Jets 4 out of 6 potential points in the Sunshine State.
21: That's the consecutive number of penalties the Jets have killed, as they have really turned that element on their special teams around. They killed off all 4 chances against them on the night, and have been very impressive as of late.
Ineffective PP: I thought they had pills for this, the the Jets have not been able to get their PP going, and it doesn't help when you aren't afforded the opportunities to do so. I was not a fan of the officiating tonight, but you can't put yourself in a position to allow the refs to potentially influence the game if you're a good team. That said, the one chance the Jets had with the extra man was not threatening, despite it coming against a league worst Florida PK unit.