By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets won their first home game since November 15th, defeating the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-2 at the MTS Centre on Friday night.
How it happened: No love has been lost between these two former Southeast Division rivals. The Jets took advantage of a tired Panthers team, and a couple of power plays to take a 3-1 lead after the first. It was the Panthers who opened the scoring on just their second shot of the game as Shawn Mattias poked home a bouncing puck.
The Jets recovered, however, through the stick of rookie Jacob Trouba, who took the biscuit end-to-end and knocked one in off a Panthers defender for his second of the year. Florida then found themselves in penalty trouble and the Jets made them pay. On the 5-on-3, Toby Enstrom wired a shot from the point over Jakob Markstrom’s glove and then 36 seconds later Blake Wheeler tipped home a Zach Bogosian shot to make it 3-1.
The Jets picked up where they left off in the second. A quick goal from Evander Kane, his ninth of the season, gave the Jets a commanding 4-1 lead. Florida refused to go away, however, and a bad clearing attempt by Kane resulted in a nice goal from Nick Bjugstad, unassisted. The Jets kept their foot on the gas pedal and scored late in the period. Byfuglien sent a beautiful stretch pass to Ladd who then found Frolik who made quick work, potting it behind Markstrom for their fifth goal of the night.
The third period was the most tame of them all. Evander Kane had two quality scoring chances but couldn’t pot home his second of the night. Both teams exchanged a few more chances but no goals were scored and the game came to end.
Shots: 32-23 in favour of the Jets.
What it means: A lot, actually. The Winnipeg Jets picked up their first home win since November 15th and their first regulation win at home since November 8th. The win also avenged a 5-2 loss at the hands of these same Panthers back on December 5th and an embarrassing loss to the league-worst Buffalo Sabres three nights ago.
Jets player of the game: Take your pick. Jacob Trouba had a goal and an assists as did Evander Kane and Michael Frolik. Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele also had multi-point nights; picking up two assists a piece.
Jets stat of the game: The Winnipeg Jets scored two power play goals in :32 seconds, and have seven goals on the man-advantage in their last seven games.
What is next for the Jets: The Winnipeg Jets head out for two games on the road before Christmas. The Jets will play back-to-back on Sunday and Monday night in Vancouver and Edmonton, respectively. The next home game for the Jets will be December 27th against the Minnesota Wild.
Merry Christmas everyone!