Menu

Hockey

Panthers return home to face Jets

After a near-perfect road trip, the surprising Florida look Winnipeg Jets, who gave the Panthers plenty of trouble in Sunrise a season ago.

Florida won two of its three games on its recent road trip, but was just seconds away from gaining at least a point in each outing. However, the Panthers allowed the game-winning goal in Ottawa with just four ticks left in regulation on Thursday.

Hoping to avoid another letdown, the Panthers held on for a 3-2 victory in Buffalo on Saturday. Jason Garrison scored on the power play with less than two minutes to go on a one-timer from the high slot.

"When it comes near him that things popping off there pretty hard," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said about Garrison's shot. "I don't think anyone in hockey would have much chance on that."

Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Panthers, while Jose Theodore ended with 24 saves. Tomas Kopecky matched a career high with three assists and Fleischmann now has two goals and four points over his last four games.

Florida's ability to hold the lead over the weekend gave it a 6-4-0 record through its first 10 games, the club's best start to a season since posting the same mark in 2005-06.

"We've talked a lot about all this new personnel we have and you can do all the team-bonding stuff you want [but] it's games like that make a difference for you," Dineen said. "So, it turns into a good road trip, could have been a great road trip but you've got to like the bounce-back game."

New Florida forward Marco Strum skated in his 899th career game and is expected to become the first German-born player to reach the 900-game mark in the NHL tonight.

The Jets continue their longest road trip of the season, a seven-game jaunt that has so far produced a 1-1 record. Winnipeg opened the swing with a wild 9-8 victory in Philadelphia, but saw its offense turn to ice in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopped all 28 shots he faced, while the Jets' Ondrej Pavelec made 26 saves after yielding seven goals on 43 shots versus Philadelphia.

"We're going through a tough stretch right now, but we'll get things together here," said Pavelec.

The shutout ended Alex Burmistrov's six-game point streak. He had posted three goals and five assists over that run.

The Winnipeg franchise won four of six over the Panthers a season ago, taking all three games in Florida. All of those wins came by just one goal, including a 3-2 shootout victory in the most recent meeting there.