SUNRISE, FLA. - The Winnipeg Jets just canít seem to shake the back-to-back blues.
Goals by Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim pushed the Florida Panthers a 2-1 victory over the Jets on Friday night before an announced crowd of 16,773 at BankAtlantic Center on Friday night.
The Panthers (24-15-11) also snapped the Jets (24-23-6) two-game winning streak and moved five points up on them in the chase for top spot in the Southeast.
Versteeg continued to be highly productive against the Jets.
Versteegís one-timer on the power-play goal at 15:46 of the first was the lone goal of the first period, beating Chris Mason to the stick side and sneaking through a good screen provided by Tomas Kopecky. The power play was awarded after Jets forward Alex Burmistrov took an undisciplined slashing minor.
The goal was Versteegís 20th of the season and was his sixth goal and ninth point in the past three games against the Jets.
Bryan Little, with his 12th of the season and first since Dec. 13, helped the Jets pull even momentarily in the second period.
Littleís goal came 30 seconds after Chris Thorburn engaged Krys Barch in a spirited scrap, but the emotional lift didnít last long as Sean Bergenheim restored the one-goal lead for the Panthers after getting loose in front of the net and converting a pass from Marcel Goc at 14:27.
Mason finished with 28 saves for the Jets, while Clemmensen had 20 for the Panthers.
The Jets close out this four-game road swing on Sunday at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.
Florida Panthers (24-15-11) vs. Winnipeg Jets (24-23-6)
2 - 1
THE THREE STARS
1. Panthers F Sean Bergenheim — Potted the game-winner, finished with a game-high six shots on goal.
2. Panthers F Kris Versteeg — Continued to tear it up against Jets, scoring a power-play marker that gives him six goals, nine points in four games this season.
3. Jets F Bryan Little — Snapped a 14-game drought, scoring his 12th of the season, which tied the game at the time.
The Panthers broke the ice with a power-play goal, the Jets responded in the second period on a goal from Bryan Little, but some shoddy defensize-zone coverage allowed Sean Bergenheim to get loose in front and he slipped his shot past Chris Mason for the eventual game-winner at 14:27 of the middle frame.
One goal is simply not going to cut it on most nights. Early in the game, the Jets had too many passengers and were far too cute, over-passing on several golden opportunities and didn't create enough Grade-A scoring chances overall against Scott Clemmensen.
Letting Sean Bergenheim sneak loose alone in front proved to be costly on the game-winning goal. However, the group of six combined for another 11 blocked shots and worked hard to deal witht the Panthers speedy forward group.
Chris Mason finished with 28 saves and once again, gave his team a chance to win while receiving minimal offensive support. The goal from Kris Versteeg was a one-timer that Mason didn't see because of a good screen by Tomas Kopecky. The winner came after a nice set-up by Marcel Goc.
The Jets wrap up a four-game road trip on Sunday with a Super Bowl matinee affair against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.