Jets-Panthers Preview

BY foxsports • February 19, 2016

The injury-plagued Florida Panthers haven't produced many goals of late, but Jaromir Jagr's most recent one has him on the verge of a historic accomplishment.

Jagr could become one of the top-three goal scorers of all-time Saturday night when the Panthers face the visiting Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season.

Florida (33-18-7) is amid a 2-3-2 stretch during which it has totaled 14 non-shootout goals - half of which came in a 7-4 win at Buffalo on Feb. 9. Talented young forwards Aleksander Barkov (upper body) and Brandon Pirri (ankle) remain temporarily out of action.

Jagr has three goals in the last eight games to tie Reilly Smith for the team lead with 18, and the Panthers are 12-1-2 when he scores. The 740th of his career came in Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss to San Jose, leaving him one shy of Brett Hull for third on the career list. Jagr, who turned 44 on Monday, joins Gordie Howe - second with 801 - as the only players that old to score.

He's recorded 22 of those goals in 43 games against the Jets' franchise, but the focus for Jagr and the rest of the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers is to start winning again or at least keep earning points.

"A point's a point," forward Vincent Trocheck said. "We need them right now."

The Panthers called up Kyle Rau from Portland of the AHL to perhaps provide a boost for an offense that's scored twice in the last three games while averaging 23.3 shots and is in an 0-for-17 drought on the power play. Rau was tied for the Portland lead with 17 goals and second with 27 points.

Despite the recent lack of production, coach Gerard Gallant lauded his team's perseverance amid a rash of injuries that also includes forward Quinton Howden (upper body) and defensemen Willie Mitchell (lower body) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body). Gallant was especially pleased with a Panthers defense that yielded 18 shots against the Sharks.

"You look at our lineup. We're doing the best we can and working hard," he said.

Al Montoya has stopped 48 of 50 shots while making back-to-back starts in place of the slumping Roberto Luongo, who has a 4.13 goals-against average in five post-All-Star break starts. The last time Luongo or ex-Jet Montoya faced Winnipeg, they each allowed four goals in an 8-2 road loss Jan. 13 of last year.

Though the Jets (25-28-4) have dropped eight of 12 and need a serious surge to move into playoff position, they haven't lost their fight.

Winnipeg came back from a three-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime in Thursday's 6-5 shootout loss at Tampa Bay. After second-leading scorer Bryan Little endured a questionable hit to the head and neck from Anton Stralman, teammate Blake Wheeler went after the defenseman and was given four minutes for roughing. Coach Paul Maurice, who had a heated discussion with officials after the play, was given a game misconduct and voiced his displeasure with the demeanor of the officials throughout the incident.

''I was upset because you work with these guys every day,'' Maurice said. ''You care about them, you care about their wives, their families. Bryan Little (got) his neck X-rayed and I seem to be considerably more concerned about the result of that hit than anyone else.''

Little's status going forward remains uncertain.

Captain Andrew Ladd, rumored to be on the block heading toward the trade deadline, got into a fight and scored twice in the third period Thursday.