After a disappointing loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, the Jets knew they had to come out with their best effort against the Florida Panthers. A good start was key which is exactly what they were able to do scoring two goals in the first 6:03.
Five goals in the third period and the two in the first was the game story as the Jets easily defeated their Southeast Division rival Panthers 7-0 Thursday night.
"We wanted to play a complete 60 minutes and didn't want to let up at all," said Mark Stuart. "This time of the year you have to be putting together 60-minute efforts, you can't sit on leads."
Evander Kane picked up a pair of goals and a pair of assists and had nine shots on net earning the game's first star of the night.
"They're a team that we're behind and it can very well be the difference of us being in the playoffs or not being in the playoffs so it was a big game for us," said Kane. "It was great to be able to prove to everybody that we're here to play and we have a playoff mindset going into the next 16 games here."
"It was a great night for us in a game we had to win and we wanted convincingly so we went and played like that." Wheeler commented."
Ondrej Pavelec picked up his 10th shutout of his NHL career stopping all 33 shots thrown his way. He earned the second star of the night.
The team will take the day off tomorrow before getting back to work getting ready for their next opponent, the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. Puck drops at 7:00pm.
Tomas Fleischmann took the first penalty of the night just 30 seconds in for hooking. The Jets power play was able to create a great scoring chance but Jose Theodore shut the door and the game remained scoreless early.
Although they did not capitalize on the advantage, Evander Kane put the Jets on the board at 4:01. He took over a bouncing puck from a Panther player in their own zone and cut hard to the front of the net and flipped one through Theodore to make it 1-0.
Next up was the G-S-T line who shaved another layer off of the Panthers as Jim Slater made it 2-0 just 2:02 later. Slater started the play setting Mark Stuart up with a one-timer from the point. Stuart blasted a slap shot that Theodore stopped but the rebound shot right out to Slater who burried the puck into the wide open net. 2-0 Jets early on an excellent start.
After twenty minutes, the Jets were up 2-0 and led 13-7 in shots.
The Jets took their first penalty of the night as Tim Stapleton was caught for hooking at 3:56 of the second period, The penalty kill and strong play of Pavelec kept the Panthers off the score board.
The Panthers did push back showing a little more despiration to their game in the second period and got more shots on net. Past the midway mark of the period, the shots read 19-18 but Pavelec had the wall up and nothing was getting through.
By the end of the second period, the Panthers were on top in shots 24-21 but the Jets led 2-0.
Kyle Wellwood added a third goal at 1:49 of the third period. Kane started the play bursting up the ice along the left boards. He shot the puck at the net at the last second which hit Theodore and spit out to Stuart at the point. Stuart fired a slapshot that hit Wellwood in front and ended up behind Theodore.
Things kept clicking and the Jets kept pushing ahead as they widened the gap to 4-0 over the Panthers at 4:35. Wheeler was the leader of the pack up ice as they found themselves on a rare 5-on-1 opportunity. After taking over a loose puck in their own zone, the Jets charged toward the Panthers net. Wheeler took a look around to his four choices, passed to Randy Jones who gave it right back to him so he found a new seam and sent a nice cross-ice feed to Bryan Little who finished the play.
"I've never seen that before, ever," chuckled Wheeler. "I was really nervous actually, because I looked up and I could hear the crowd going crazy to I figured two-on-one or three-on-one then there were all five guys and I didn't know where to go with the puck. Thank god I was able to find Litt's because I've never seen that before, ever."
Scott Clemmensen replaced Jose Theodore after the fourth goal.
Things went from good to great in the third period for the Jets as Nik Antropov added a fifth goal from a Zach Bogosian rebound from the point at 8:06. Tobias Enstrom picked up the second helper on the goal.
Kane added a sixth goal just 12 seconds later after the Panthers gave up a costly neutral-zone turnover right off the face-off circle at centre ice. Alexander Burmistrov got the puck to Wellwood to move across the blueline. With Kane streaking up the middle, Wellwood sent him a lead pass which he put into the back of the net on his backhand. 6-0 Jets with 11:42 to play in the third period.
Just when we thought the damage was done, Wheeler added a seventh goal with two minutes to play in regulation. Kane wired a shot that was saved by Clemmensen but he bobbled the rebound and Wheeler was standing in the crease to put it though his legs.
That was all of the damage that the Jets would do as they marched past the Panthers 7-0 at the MTS Centre, inching two points closer to the Southeast Division lead. Their next game is Monday against the Buffalo Sabres.
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