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Jets’ onslaught buries Florida Panthers

In the last Southeast Division game ever between the Florida Panthers and the Winnipeg Jets, both teams scored early and often with 5 goals potted in the first period alone. But after a flurry of goals in the latter half of the second period, the game was blown wide open and the Panthers fell to the Jets 7-2.

The Jets were off to an early start in the first period when Blake Wheeler hit the post and Evander Kane barely missed an ensuing rebound, but after holding was called on Florida’s Shawn Matthias at 1:27, the Panthers successfully killed their penalty only to have Aaron Gagnon score for the Jets with a point shot at 3:54.

It took less than a minute for the Panthers to respond when TJ Brennan deflected a shot from Tomas Fleischmann and found the back of the net at 4:46. Marcel Goc had the other assist.

Winnipeg retook the lead when Evander Kane tipped a shot in front of the net at 5:04 and the puck trickled through a sprawled Jacob Markstrom, but the Panthers’ Tomas Fleischmann scored his 9th goal of the season from the right face-off circle at 6:31, forcing Winnipeg’s coach, Claude Noel, to call a timeout and try to regain control of the game.

Andrew Ladd scored his sixteenth goal of the season and the last goal of the period as Bryan Little found him driving Florida’s net at 12:42.

The second period began with end-to-end hockey, but it wasn’t until Grant Clitsome capped off a give-and-go with Brian Little at 10:05 that the scoring began. Thirteen seconds later a seemingly harmless shot from the blue line gave Dustin Byfuglien his seventh goal of the season and the Jets a 5-2 lead. But the Jets’ goal rush didn’t end there as Evander Kane beat Florida’s Erik Gudbranson in a footrace to the puck and tucked away his second of the night at 11:57, sending the visibly depleted Panthers into the third period down four goals.

Chris Thorburn added a deflection to Ron Hainsey’s point shot at 11:52 for the lone goal in the third.

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