Winnipeg—Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel was worried about an emotional letdown for the Winnipeg Jets in tonight’s first game back on home ice after their seven game road trip, and after a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, the headman was correct in his concern.
The game started optimistically enough, as the Jets controlled the flow of the game for the first five minutes of the contest, generating a couple of quality scoring chances, and drawing a powerplay opportunity. Unfortunately, with the Jets unable to capitalize, the emotional high they started the game with, quickly dissipated, and the Florida Panthers were quick to take advantage of the letdown.
The Panthers opened the scoring at the 7:14 mark of the first period on a goal by Kris Versteeg, with assists being drawn by Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss. The Panthers gained control of the puck in their own zone, after a giveaway in the offensive zone by Blake Wheeler, continuing the right winger’s struggles in the early onset of this season.
The Panthers made it 2-0 just over ten minutes later, as Kris Versteeg scored his second of the night on a powerplay, with assists going to Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann. The Panthers controlled the last 15 minutes of the first period, as the Jets mustered only four shots in the first twenty minutes of action.
The second period started much like the first period ended, with the Jets flatter than an overhead visual of the prairies, as it took until the ten minute mark of the second period before the Jets registered their first shot on net, an occasion that was met with derisive boos from the faithful packed into MTS Centre. The Panthers were not sympathetic to the Jets cause, as they made it 3-0 less than five minutes into the period with a goal off the stick of Jason Garrison, with Kris Versteeg registering his 3rd point of the night (an assist) and Brian Campbell getting the second assist. Three goals weren’t enough for the Panthers, as they made it 4-0 before the period was up on a powerplay goal by Mike Santorelli, with yet another assist going to Brian Campbell (3rd of the night), and impressive young defenseman Dmitri Kulikov.
To the Jets credit, they came out strong in the 3rd period, and tried to make it a game, scoring two goals within the first 6 minutes, the first coming from Tim Stapleton on the PP (first of the year), and that being followed up 3 minutes later by a nifty tip in goal by the captain Andrew Ladd. The Jets kept the pressure up throughout the 3rd period, getting some good opportunities to make it a one goal game, but that was as close as they would come, as Kris Versteeg scored into an empty net, giving himself the hat-trick, and rounding out the scoring on this Thursday night in downtown Winnipeg.
Every team goes through lulls where they look sluggish and disinterested, and sometimes they are able to play through them, and sometimes they are able to avoid having their opposition capitalize but tonight the Jets weren’t able to recover in time, and as a result were on the losing end of tonight’s divisional contest in Winnipeg. Considering the Jets will have to be better than the Panthers to have a realistic shot at the playoffs, home-ice defeats such as the one they suffered tonight, will be hard to overcome in their quest to continue playing after the 82 game regular season.
- Kris Versteeg
- Brian Campbell
- Andrew Ladd
Next game: Winnipeg at Columbus, 6:00 PM (CT), Saturday November 13, 2011
Broadcast: CBC HNIC/TSN Radio 1290