Shawn Matthias' goal in second period puts Panthers ahead for good in much-need home win.
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Florida
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The injury-plagued
Florida Panthers put together a complete game and got a needed home win.
Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli scored for Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau converted a penalty shot in a 4-1 victory over the
Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
The Panthers, who won at home for just the fourth time this season, were playing without Stephen Weiss -- out with a season-ending wrist injury -- goalie Jose Theodore, Dmitry Kulikov, Mike Weaver, Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski and Kris Versteeg.
"I felt like they had a lot of energy tonight," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "They worked from the start of the game to the finish and just the intangibles.
"It's not like we're changing a heck of a lot. But the margin of error between winning and losing is so small."
Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots for his first win in his third start of the season for Florida.
"Every time I play, it doesn't matter where, I'm excited," Markstrom said. "It was really nice to get a win."
Dineen was happy with Markstrom's efforts to hold Winnipeg to only one goal.
"That was good for him to get the win," Dineen said. "He was a difference-maker. They pushed at different times and I think he responded very well."
Kyle Wellwood scored for Winnipeg and Ondrej Pavelec finished with 22 saves while falling to 8-11-1 this season.
After Wellwood tied the score early in the second period, Matthias put the Panthers ahead for good midway through the period with his fifth game-winning goal of the season.
Kopecky put the Panthers ahead 1-0 with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot at 5:07 of the first period. It was Kopecky's ninth goal of the season and seventh in the last 10 games.
Wellwood scored his first goal at 1:42 of the second to tie the score.
"I didn't think we played with enough passion, enough heart," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "We never paid the price to win and we're not good enough to win easy."
Matthias put the Panthers ahead again at 9:55 of the second as he sent a one-handed backhand shot over the Pavelec's shoulder. Colby Robak had an assist on the play for his first career point.
"It's just reaction," Mattias said. "I can't tell you why I picked that. When you play like that, you just let your body take over and hope it works, and it did."
Huberdeau got his 11th goal of the season 5:10 into the third, becoming the first Panthers player to score on two penalty shot goals in a season.
"It's exciting when you score like that, especially because it was 2-1 and it give us a bit of a cushion," Huberdeau said. "I knew I was going to shoot there. I just knew from the beginning."
The last rookie to score on two penalty shot goals in a season was Columbus' David Vyborny in 2000-01.
Santorelli capped the scoring with 3:43 left, getting his first goal since he scored twice against Toronto on Feb. 28, 2012.
NOTES: Florida D Tyson Strachan played in his 100th career NHL game. Strachan was on the ice for more than 20 minutes in his last three games played, marking the first times in his career he's skated more than 20 minutes in a game. ... RW Jonathan Rheault played his first game with the Panthers. Rheault is the fifth player to play in their first game for the Panthers this season. ... Jets D Dustin Byfuglien made it to Florida after missing team practice on Monday to take care of a family matter in Minnesota. There was some worry that Byfuglien might be detained by weather in joining the team. ... The teams will play the fourth of five games scheduled this season against each other on Friday in another home game for the Panthers.