Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers kick off ‘Jets Week’ with shootout loss in Winnipeg

Florida Panthers get power play working in shootout loss to Jets

The Florida Panthers went 3-for-3 on the power play Thursday yet lost 4-3 in six rounds of a shootout to the host Winnipeg Jets.
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The Florida Panthers went 3-for-3 on the power play Thursday yet lost 4-3 in six rounds of a shootout to the host Winnipeg Jets.

Two South Florida teams play the Jets this week.

Despite getting three goals from their much criticized power play, the Florida Panthers lost 4-3 in a shootout Thursday night as the host Winnipeg Jets won it on a Mathieu Perreault shootout goal in the sixth round.

The Panthers are 0-1-1 on this abbreviated road trip which ends Friday night at 9 against the host Colorado Avalanche (FSFL).

Florida outshot the Jets 44-32.

“We had enough leads in this game to close it out and you can't let those ones slip away,” said Reilly Smith, who scored Florida’s second power play goal of the night in the second period to give Florida a 2-1 lead.

“It's tough that it ended up going to a shootout because it's anyone's game at that point. But I think we controlled the pace of the game from the start of the game. It's just frustrating. The opportunities are there, we had 44 shots. The power play was better which is night. But with those many opportunities, you need to find a way to win.”

Florida was all over Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck from the start as the Panthers outshot the Jets 19-8 in the opening period yet trailed after Dustin Byfuglien charged up the ice and scored on a botched line change and made it 1-0 with 11 seconds left in the opening frame.

The Panthers came right back in the second, scoring on their first power play chance 4:51 in when Sasha Barkov picked up his seventh goal of the year by banging in a loss puck.

A few minutes later, Smith whipped in a shot with Jaromir Jagr and Nick Bjugstad blocking Hellebuyck. Winnipeg scored midway through the period to tie the score with Vincent Trocheck scoring his second in three games on Florida’s third power play of the period — and game.

Florida’s power play came into the night ranked dead last in the NHL as the Panthers had scored just twice on their previous 28 chances.

By Friday morning, the Panthers’ power play jumped all the way up to 23rd in the league with a success rate of 15.1 percent.

“It was a tough one but we did a lot of good things,” interim coach Tom Rowe said afterward. “We outshot them dramatically in the first and second period, we had great chances and just couldn't finish. The good thing is the power play came around, which is great. There’s a lot of good stuff to build on.”

Florida went into the third period up 3-2 after a last-second scoring chance by Trocheck didn’t cross the goal line and the homestanding Jets — who had last four consecutive games coming in — tied it on a Bryan Little goal early in the third.

The two teams played an energetic and exciting overtime period with both Luongo and Hellebuyck forced to make some key saves.

In the shootout, Florida took the initial lead in the opening round on a goal from Trocheck but the Jets tied in Round 3.

The Panthers, after a good start to the season, have now dropped four of their past five games decided in a shootout or overtime.

“It was back-and-forth, we got a lot of shots, capitalized on the power play but we made a few errors in the defensive zone and that’s going to cost you,” said Bjugstad, who got his first point in 12 games this season by getting the primary assist on Florida’s opening goal.

Friday: Panthers at Avalanche

When/where: 9 p.m.; Pepsi Center, Denver.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560.

Series: Colorado leads 21-11-3.

Scouting report: The Panthers are playing their second game in as many nights and third in four days as this abbreviated road trip (0-1-1) comes to a close. … The Avs snapped a six-game losing streak on Dec. 8 in Boston and have won two of their past four.