All the pre-game talk in Florida was about how banged up the Panthers were, having nine veterans on the injury list and out of their lineup. But when the final buzzer went, it was the Panthers that had the win.
Tomas Kopecky's ninth of the year opened the scoring for Florida before Kyle Wellwood, who was back in the lineup after missing the last four games, tied it with his first of the season.
But before the second period was out, goals by Shawn Matthias and Jonathan Huberdeau had Florida in front by two. Matthias scored on a great individual effort, while Huberdeau was successful on his second penalty shot of the season.
With netminder Jose Theodore one of the injured players for the Panthers, young Jacob Markstrom will now get his opportunity to be the team's number one goaltender. Winnipeg did not test the young netminder with only eight shots in the first periodand five in the second. They did fire 18 his way in the third, but could not get another one past the 23-year-old from Sweden.
Mike Santorelli scored the final Panthers goal to make the final 4-1.
It was a dejected Jets team as the feeling was they let one slip away. Coach Claude Noel had concerns prior to the game about his team taking the Panthers lightly because of all their injuries. “Sure looked like it,” commented Blake Wheeler.
Captain Andrew Ladd said, “as a team we did not get it done. We would have liked a better effort.”
"We didn't show up and we made it easy for them. They played smart but we didn't show up as a team,” added goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
Noel summed it up during his post game news conference: “We were not very good at all. Our game lacked a lot of things: passion, heart. We didn't work hard enough and didn't pay the price to win. It's very concerning. We are not good enough to win easy. We didn't even draw a penalty. That tells you about our work ethic and our battle level. We didn't match their intensity.”
It was the first time this season the Jets did not get a power play in a game.
With Wellwood and Antti Miettinen back the lineup, Chris Thorburn and Derek Meech were the healthy scratches. In an effort to get something going Noel juggled his lines in the third shortening his bench.
The Jets are now 6-5-1 on the road (5-2 in their last seven) and 10-11-1 overall. It was not a good night in the standings for Winnipeg with all the other Southeast Division teams winning.
The road trip continues in Tampa on Thursday, then it's back to Sunrise for another game with the Panthers onFriday. The trip ends in New Jersey on Sunday. All games on TSN Jets and TSN 1290.