WINNIPEG — It wasn’t by their coach’s book but Evander Kane scored two goals as the Winnipeg Jets outgunned the Florida Panthers 7-2 on Thursday for their third straight win.
Aaron Gagnon, Andrew Ladd, Grant Clitsome, Dustin Byfuglien and Chris Thorburn also scored for Winnipeg (21-19-2). The Jets are now tied with the New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. However, New York has two games in hand.
The Washington Capitals lead the Southeast Division with 46 points and a game in hand over Winnipeg.
Both Washington and the Rangers were idle on Thursday.
The Jets, who have had the most success with a patient, controlled game, took a 3-2 lead after a wild first period with four goals scored by both teams in a span of less than three minutes.
T.J. Brennan and Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Panthers (13-21-6), who remain in the Eastern Conference cellar.
Gagnon got things started with his second career NHL goal. He was parked in front of the net and deflected Blake Wheeler’s shot from the point at 3:54 past Jacob Markstrom.
Less than a minute later though, Brennan deflected one past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to even things up.
Kane waited a whole 18 seconds to tip a slow-motion puck past a sprawling Markstrom to put the Jets ahead again. but Fleischmann scored less than a minute and a half later with a wrist shot that slipped under Pavelec’s leg.
Winnipeg coach Claude Noel then called a time out to try and settle things down and it seemed to work.
Ladd put the Jets back in front with a 3-2 lead at the 12:42 mark of the first. Winnipeg outshot the Panthers 17-9 in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Florida put on more pressure in the second but it was the Jets who scored, starting just past the 10-minute mark when Bryan Little fed Clitsome in the slot on a power play.
Byfuglien drilled one past Markstrom from the point just 28 seconds later and Kane dashed in behind the sprawling goaltender to slip one into an empty net at 11:58.
That was enough for coach Kevin Dineen who put veteran Scott Clemmensen in the net.
The frustrated Panthers ended the second by handing the Jets a five-on-three power play. It started with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against George Parros after he failed to goad Chris Thorburn into a fight, followed by an illegal check to Little’s head by Eric Gudbranson.
The check sent a bleeding Little to the dressing room but the Jets failed to score on Clemmensen. Little returned in the third.
The Jets weren’t finished however, as Thorburn deflected Ron Hainsey’s shot past Clemmensen at the 11:53 mark of the third.
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