WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets kept the penalties to a minimum and shook off a lacklustre start to snap a three-game losing streak.
Bryan Little scored on the power play at 4:44 of overtime Tuesday as the Jets defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2.
Little took a pass inside the Panthers’ zone and wired a shot past Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen.
Winnipeg took just two penalties on the night after the Jets (4-4-1) found their way to the box far too often on their recent slide.
But Tuesday didn’t start off well for the Jets, who came out flat, gave away the puck four times and won only one of 10 faceoffs in the first period.
“We looked like we’d never been together, really, it was really difficult to watch us play,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said.
Added Jets captain Andrew Ladd: “We kind of sat back, instead of putting pressure on them up ice, we let them gather speed and come at us full throttle.”
But after trailing 1-0 in the second, the Jets found their legs in the middle period as the teams headed to the third tied 2-2.
“I thought that the second period we did a better job of getting the forecheck going, getting on our toes and trying to create stuff offensively,” Ladd said.
Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was happy his team got a point, but felt they deserved a better fate.
“We worked hard and had great chances,” Dineen said. “It feels like a loss and not so much as a point gained.”
Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart also scored for the Jets, while Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Fleischmann replied for the Panthers (3-5-1).
Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who made 17 stops, said the win was important for a team that just dropped three on the road.
“It was huge after the road trip (where) we didn’t play well, we came in this building, we feel comfortable here,” he said. “It’s special to play in front of those crowds. It doesn’t matter who you play, Florida, Tampa, we needed two points, especially after the road trip.”
Huberdeau banged in Drew Shore’s rebound at 18:12 of the first to open the scoring. The Panthers outshot the Jets 7-3, who didn’t record a shot on target until there were less than six minutes to play.
Winnipeg came on stronger in the second and Wheeler put the Jets on the board from the point at 2:28 when he slammed a pass from leading Jets scorer Tobias Enstrom past Clemmensen, who made 18 saves on the night.
But Florida took the lead back less than two minutes later on Fleischmann’s shot from the point sailed past Pavelec.
Stuart’s wrist shot, his first goal this season, beat Clemmensen between the pads at 12:21 to tie it again, as the Jets outshot Florida 14-5 in the period.
The third was scoreless, with neither team able to capitalize on a power-play opportunity.
The Jets, who finished the night 1-for-4 with man advantage after Little’s winner, welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday before heading out on the road again.
Notes: The Jets started the game with the highest-scoring defence in the NHL—seven goals and 26 points—led by Enstrom’s team-high 11 points. … The Panthers’ Peter Mueller saw his streak of a goal in each of his last four games end Tuesday