It was another former Chicago Blackhawk that had the big night on the scoresheet Thursday night at MTS Centre as the Florida Panthers came into Winnipeg and took two points away from the hometown Jets.
Kris Versteeg scored the game’s opening two goals and added an empty netter for his first hat trick of his NHL career as the Panthers came away with a 5-2 victory when it was all said and done.
The game featured a number of players from the now dismantled 2010 Stanley Cup champions, including Jets captain Andrew Ladd, Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, Panthers forwards Tomas Kopecky and Versteeg, as well as Panther defenseman Brian Campbell.
Also scoring for the road team was Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli.
On the board for the hometown Jets were Tim Stapleton with his first as a Jet on the power play and Andrew Ladd with his fourth of the campaign.
The Panthers had leads of 2-0 after one and 4-0 after two before the Jets forced their way back into the game in the third with two quick goals by Stapleton and Ladd in the first six minutes of the final frame.
Ondrej Pavelec made eleven saves on 15 shots and was sat for the final frame as Peter Mannino made his Jets debut, stopping all four shots he faced in the third period.
The Jets outshot the Panthers in the final period by a 17-4 margin, but Jose Theodore ended up stopping 25 of 27 on the night for the win.
The Panthers went two-for-five on the powerplay while the Jets went one-for-three on the man advantage.
Mark Stuart was the only Jet who finished with a plus rating (plus one) over 18:16 of ice time.
Dustin Byfuglien logged 24:44 of ice time to lead the Jets. Zach Bogosian logged 24:22, Johnny Oduya logged 22:29, Alexander Burmistrov logged 19:46, and Evander Kane logged 18:55.
Bryan Little was excellent in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 20 draws on the night, while Jim Slater won seven of fourteen and Burmistrov won eight of fifteen.
Slater had a game high six shots on net, while Byfuglien had four.
The Jets now go back on the road for a meeting with the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets and former Jet and Jacket head coach Scott Arniel Saturday night.
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