SUNRISE, Fla. — The Winnipeg Jets just don’t like playing in Sunrise, Fla. Too bad they have to go back on Friday night.
Tuesday night at BB&T Centre in Sunrise, Jonathan Huberdeau scored on a penalty shot and Shawn Matthias might have scored the prettiest goal in Panthers history – a goal you’ll be watching on the highlight reels for the rest of the year – as the Jets were whipped 4-1 by the Florida Panthers.
Ondrej Pavelec didn’t have a great night, allowing four goals on just 26 shots. It was the 10-11-1 Jets second straight loss and leaves Winnipeg in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers won despite the fact they had a horrible day. Still playing without the injured Kris Versteeg, Panthers GM Dale Tallon said yesterday that team has lost Stephen Weiss for the rest of the season. Weiss will have wrist surgery. Tallon also announced that defenseman Mike Weaver and goalie Jose Theodore would miss at least another month with various injuries, Dmitry Kulikov would be out three-to-four more weeks, and forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Ed Jovanovski would miss at least another week to 10 days.
It’s barely even an NHL franchise and yet it beat the Jets by three goals on Tuesday night. It was banged-up Florida’s third win in 12 games as the team’s goalie of the future, Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves to get the victory. Tomas Kopecky and Mike Santorelli also scored for Florida. It was Santorelli’s first NHL goal since Feb. 12, 2012.
Huberdeau, meanwhile, actually set a Panthers franchise record with his second penalty-shot goal this season — it gave Florida a 3-1 lead at 14:50 of the second period. On Feb. 21, he scored against the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ilya Bryzgalov in a 5-2 victory.
Kyle Wellwood scored a beautiful goal for the Jets — hist first of the season — in the second period that tied the game at 1-1, but that was pretty much it for the Jets who had a bit more fire in their collective belly than they did Saturday afternoon against Washington, but still not enough to beat a depleted Panthers roster.
“I thought we came out a little sluggish,” Wellwood told reporters after the game. “We didn’t find a way to get the puck into the areas to get on the forecheck and get some hits. We have a lot of guys that do well when there is a high tempo to the game and tonight, we really slowed the game down.
“Tonight was a night there was a lot of open ice and a lot of time with the puck which suited me but it’s a team game and we have to get on the forecheck and get some energy. We have some strong fast players that need to have some physicality to the game and tonight, we weren’t able to establish that.”
Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien made it to Florida after missing the team’s practice on Monday in order to take care of a family matter in Minnesota. There was some worry that Byfuglien might be detained by weather in joining the team nut he made it with plenty of time to spare. Still Byfuglien’s presence didn’t make any difference in the outcome.”
“It certainly looked like they had more to play for than we did and we weren’t able to respond and that’s what happens,” said Jets forward Blake Wheeler.
“We just weren’t able to get much clean going and it gets old when we’re looking around for the puck all the time.”
The Jets will play again Thursday night in Tampa against the Lightning, 6:30 on TSN Jets TV. NCI will be there live.