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Panthers use 3rd-period blitz to beat Jets, end losing streak
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Alex Kovalev's power-play tally with under 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation was the game-winner as the Florida Panthers used a five-goal third period to snap a five-game slide and best the Winnipeg Jets, 6-3, on Thursday.
Kris Versteeg, Peter Mueller, Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Kopecky also scored in the final stanza for the Panthers, who hadn't won since an opening-night decision against Carolina 12 days ago.
"We always try to say the right things when we're in the muck, but we were in the deep end there and we're still not out of it," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Let's not kid ourselves. It's only one win. We're still some way from getting back to respectability."
Jose Theodore stopped 22-of-25 shots for the win.
Grant Clitsome, Olli Jokinen and Tobias Enstrom posted markers for the Jets, who have lost two in a row following a three-game win streak.
Ondrej Pavelec was beaten five times on 33 shots in the setback.
"We have another game in 24 hours against one of the top teams in the East and one of the top teams in our division right now, so if we can't get up for tomorrow, we have bigger issues," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said about his team's game against Tampa Bay on Friday.
Enstrom's blast from a failed Panthers' clearing attempt at the 7:38 mark of the final period gave Winnipeg a 3-2 edge, but it was all Florida from there.
Mueller picked up a rebound on the left side and lifted a shot over Pavelec from the edge of the crease on a power play to make it 3-3 at 11:20. Just 77 seconds later, after Jokinen went off for tripping, Kovalev's wrister put the hosts on top.
It became 5-3 on a broken play. Huberdeau rolled up the left-wing side with Jack Skille on his right for an odd-man rush. The rookie attempted to pass across the crease, but the disc caromed off the body of Enstrom and over the goal line before the net came off its pegs with 4:31 to go.
Kopecky added a late empty-net score to seal the victory.
Brian Campbell's slap shot from the point on a Florida power play was the game's first goal at the 5:14 mark of the second period.
Clitsome evened the score with his first of the season, coming with 3:49 to go in the middle frame.
Jokinen sent Winnipeg up at 1:23 of the third, but Kris Versteeg's first of the year just over two minutes later tied it once more.
Winnipeg had won two of three at Florida last season ... Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann recorded his first career three-assist game ... Kopecky ended up with three points thanks to being credited with a pair of assists ... Florida forward Marcel Goc returned after a six-game absence due to an ankle injury sustained while playing overseas ... The Panthers announced prior to the contest that veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski will be out at least two games with a knee injury suffered on Tuesday, and also revealed the acquisition of forward Zach Hamill from the Washington Capitals in exchange for forward Casey Wellman ... Panthers forward Scottie Upshall left the game with an apparent leg injury with 5:43 played in the third period, when fellow combatant James Wright wrestled him to the ice near the boards during a fight and his knee bent awkwardly.
02/01 02:06:41 ET
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