WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets have seen this story play out all too many times before. The Jets out chance the opposition, but fail to take advantage of their opportunities, then play a couple bad shifts and end up on the losing side. It’s been pretty much the Jets season in a nutshell and the broken record played again on Tuesday as the Jets suffered a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
“We just got to finish.” said Jets forward Mathieu Perreault. “We’re getting chances and we’re not putting them in and they come down, get their chances and they score. That’s the name of this game. Opportunities are there for us to win games, we’re just not getting it done.”
The Jets outshot the Panthers 25-10 through 40 minutes, but then they crumbled in the third period with the game hanging in the balance.
“We didn’t play the third period the way we played the first two.” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “Our transition game changed. We slowed our transition through the neutral zone and that’s why we didn’t look the way we did in the third through the first two.”
Reilly Smith scored two goals for Florida. Jaromir Jagr had the other marker for the Panthers in the win.
“I didn’t think they had too much control of the game at any point.” said Dustin Byfuglien. “Just little things.”
The Jets powerplay was 0-for-4. Byfuglien and Andrew Copp scored goals for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 19 of 22 shots in the loss.
“We played extremely well tonight I think for the first two periods.” Pavelec said. “I think we were a way better team.”
After nearly 14 minutes of scoreless hockey the Panthers opened the scoring. Racing down the wing Vincent Trocheck sent the pass in front and Smith re-directed the puck past Pavelec. The Jets used a coaches challenge to argue the play was offside but the goal stood upon review. Smith’s 20th of the season gave the Panthers the upper hand.
Winnipeg trailed by one after the opening period but outshot the Panthers 16-6 in the first twenty minutes.
The Jets answered back 5:23 into the second period. Nikolaj Ehlers was stopped by Roberto Luongo but Byfuglien swatted in the rebound on the backhand. Mark Scheifele also had an assist on Byfuglien’s 16th goal of the season.
Just three minutes later Alex Burmistrov’s pass was partially blocked and the puck deflected right to Andrew Copp who found himself on a clearcut break. He tucked it in the 5-hole on Luongo for his second goal of the season.
The Panthers went on a 5-on-3 man advantage early in the final frame. The Jets survived the first penalty but then after Pavelec made the save, Trocheck set up Smith who had the wide open net for his second goal of the game.
It didn’t remain tied for very long. Just minutes later Jagr carried into the Jets zone and his shot deflected off Jacob Trouba’s stick and in behind Pavelec. Jagr’s 21st was unassisted and the Panthers held on to their 3-2 lead the rest of the way.
Matt Halischuk was a healthy scratch. The Jets continue their five game homestand on Thursday against the New York Islanders.
WATCH: Head Coach Paul Maurice and Jets players discuss a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers