Panthers lose Barkov but beat Jets
SUNRISE, Fla. -- They had lost their starting goalie, Roberto Luongo, in the previous game.
And for a stretch of about eight minutes in Thursday’s second period, the Florida Panthers were also without their top two centers, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck.
To make matters worse, they gave the Winnipeg Jets seven power plays, including four straight in the third period. Two of the penalties on the night were 5-on-3.
Yet, despite all that adversity, the Panthers -- led by improbable hero Michael Haley -- rallied to defeat the Jets 6-4 at the BB&T Center.
Trocheck returned after his injury and scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 10.4 seconds left. But Barkov didn’t return after taking an elbow to his jaw.
“It sucks that Barkie went down,” Trocheck said of Barkov, who could be in the concussion protocol. “He’s a leader of this team. He gets us going every night. Him going down was a big hit for us. Guys had to step up.”
Haley, a fourth-line left winger, was one of those guys. He scored the tiebreaking goal on a deflection of a Derek MacKenzie shot with 9:58 left in the third period as Florida (11-13-4) snapped a three-game losing streak.
It was just Haley’s second goal of the season. He has seven goals in parts of eight NHL seasons.
Florida also got goals from Mark Pysyk, Aaron Ekblad and Denis Malgin. Backup goalie James Reimer (35 saves) earned the win.
The Jets (17-8-4) got one goal and two assists from Patrik Laine as well as scores from Nikolaj Ehlers, Adam Lowry and Blake Wheeler.
But the Jets went just 1-for-7 on their power play, including a hooking call against Mike Matheson with just 4:02 remaining.
“They made some good saves,” Wheeler said. “We had a couple (pucks) lay on the goal line. It just wasn’t bouncing for us tonight.”
In addition, the Jets could not survive shaky goaltending from rookie Eric Comrie, a 22-year-old Canadian from Edmonton who made 30 saves in just his second NHL start. In his other start, he beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on April 6, 2017.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said Comrie “would want that first goal” that he allowed back. But Maurice thought he played respectably otherwise.
“We were just a little too loose on our coverage,” Maurice said.
Florida opened the scoring with two goals within the first four minutes of the game. Pysyk beat Comrie stick-side with just 2:48 expired in the first period. And Ekblad scored off his own rebound just 29 seconds later.
The Jets closed the first period with two goals within three minutes of each other, tying the score 2-2.
On Winnipeg’s first goal, Ben Chiarot snapped a shot from the point, and the puck deflected into the net off of teammate Ehlers. Winnipeg tied the score when Brandon Tanev sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Lowry, who beat Reimer with a one-timer.
Wheeler’s power-play goal with 4:46 expired in the second period gave Winnipeg its first lead of the night, 3-2. Wheeler scored after a perfect pass from Laine.
Florida ended the second-period scoring on Malgin’s goal, which tied the score 3-3. He was set up by Colton Sceviour’s centering feed from behind the net.
The teams traded goals within the first two minutes of the third period -- Trocheck for Florida and Laine for Winnipeg to tie the score 4-4.
That set the stage for Haley’s heroics and some scary moments for the Panthers at the end as they thwarted repeated Jets opportunities.
”We took too many penalties,“ Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. ”Losing Barkie, we had to scramble. We lost Trocheck for seven or eight minutes. We were mixing and matching all over the place.
“But I give a lot of credit to the guys. They found a way to win.”
NOTES: Panthers G Roberto Luongo (right groin) likely will miss several weeks. The Panthers on Wednesday recalled G Harri Sateri to serve as James Reimer’s backup. Sateri was recalled from their AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass. ... Florida scratched D MacKenzie Weegar and LW Connor Brickley. ... Jets G Steve Mason is out with a concussion sustained on Nov. 25. Mason has struggled this season with a 3.45 GAA and a .904 save percentage. ... Winnipeg scratched C Marko Dano, D Tucker Poolman and C Shawn Matthias. ... This was a homecoming of sorts for ex-Panthers D Dmitry Kulikov, who is now in the Jets’ rotation. ... Florida’s three-game homestand ends on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. ... Winnipeg’s three-game trip ends Saturday at the Tampa Bay Lightning.