Game Preview: Jets VS Panthers
The Jets home stand continues with the visiting Florida Panthers, Thursday.
PANTHERS (13-20-6) at JETS (20-19-2)
TV: FS-F, TSN-JETS
Last 10: Florida 6-4-0; Winnipeg 4-6-0
Season series: Fifth and final meeting of the regular season between two clubs that won't see much of each other when realignment comes for the 2013-14 season and the Jets move to the Western Conference. This is the rubber match, but the Panthers have earned two additional points because both their losses came in overtime. Tomas Fleischmann has six points for Florida to lead all scorers.
Big story: While the Jets still have aspirations of winning the Southeast Division and making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Panthers have proven an effective spoiler of late despite sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Panthers: As the team gets a long look at its future in Jacob Markstrom, veteran goaltender Scott Clemmensen was becoming the forgotten man in Florida. In a rare start Sunday against Ottawa, he showed there's still something left in the tank with a 40-save effort that carried the Panthers to a 2-1 victory. Dmitry Kulikov scored on a third-period power play for his second game-winning goal of the season, both in the past four games.
"Getting the special teams going gives us a better chance to win games,'' Kulikov told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Clem made some huge saves for us.''
Jets: Five consecutive losses dropped Winnipeg out of the division lead and threatened to dash their postseason hopes altogether, but a return home to MTS Centre seems to have put the Jets back on the right track. They've won the first two of a six-game homestand by identical 4-1 scores, including Tuesday over the Sabres. Aaron Gagnon's first NHL goal proved to be the winner and workhorse Ondrej Pavelec stopped 29 shots.
"It's nice to get something going here," said captain Andrew Ladd who registered a goal and an assist. "We obviously know we have to get on a little run here, and [there is] no better place than to do it here in this building and get the fans on our side and revved up for a good run here."
Who's hot: Fleischmann has two goals and four assists during a six-game points streak for the Panthers. Tomas Kopecky has three goals and one assist during a three-game points streak. … Ladd has one goal and three assists during a three-game points streak for the Jets. Bryan Little has consecutive multi-point games, totaling one goal and three assists.
Injury report: Florida goalie Jose Theodore (groin) is skating and still hopes to return this season. Defensemen Ed Jovanovski (hip) and Mike Weaver (lower body) and forwards Drew Shore (upper body), Eric Selleck (concussion), Kris Versteeg (knee), Stephen Weiss (wrist) and Sean Bergenheim (groin) are all sidelined. … Winnipeg defenseman Zach Redmond (thigh) and forwards Nik Antropov (lower body), Jim Slater (hand) and Anthony Peluso (hand) are out.