Andrew Brunette was not very happy with the effort nor the execution his team put forth in the Florida Panthers previous game in Seattle.
Brunette was in a much better mood on Tuesday night.
Although the Panthers did not create a masterpiece of any kind, Florida’s strong defensive play in the final 30 minutes or so helped lead to a 5-3 victory over the host Winnipeg Jets.
Florida plans to fly home on Wednesday morning after going 3-2-0 on the longest road trip — both in games and in mileage — of the season.
“Our compete level was higher than it was the other night and I thought we had a really strong checking mentality down the stretch,” Brunette said after his team scored two unanswered goals in the final 30:18 to pull out the win.
“We did the things we needed to win the game. At times, it wasn’t pretty. But I thought we managed the puck real well and were able to play in their zone. When we have the puck in their zone, we’re a fun team to watch and a fun team to play for.”
Brunette was upset with the way his team came out to play the expansion Seattle Kraken in what turned out to be a 5-3 loss on Sunday night, but on Tuesday, the Panthers looked focused despite the capacity of Canada Life Center being only 250 season ticket holders.
The Panthers put the third line of Anton Lundell, Mason Marchment and Sam Reinhart back together and saw immediate results as Marchment scored Florida’s first two goals and Lundell got the third.
Marchment had three points as Florida went into the second period holding a 3-2 lead; both Lundell and Reinhart had two apiece.
“We needed to come out hot and we did,” Marchment said. “It was a good, good start for the boys. We played together maybe six or seven games then (Lundell) got hurt and everything got switched up. It was definitely nice to be back together and seeing some success.”
Added Brunette: “They had really good chemistry earlier in the year and then we went through some injuries … had different guys in-and-out. It was nice to go back to them. They responded in a huge way. I thought they were excellent the whole game and in both ends of the rink. It was fun to watch them tonight.”
Winnipeg ended tying the score on a power play goal 3:30 into the second period as Pierre-Luc Dubois beat old pal Sergei Bobrovsky.
But with 10:18 remaining in the second, Carter Verhaeghe cashed in on a rebound from an Aaron Ekblad slapshot and there would be no more comeback for the Jets.
Bobrovsky, who ended with 32 saves including 20 in the final two periods, made sure of that.
“After coming off the loss in Seattle, we really wanted to bounce back and play a solid road game,” Verhaeghe said. “I think we did that. We came out in the first and responded. … They got a couple good looks early, but we made some adjustments in our d-zone and wanted to dial it in a little bit. We did that in the second and third. It definitely showed.”
Aside from Bobrovsky, the Panthers played a strong defensive game as the minutes ticked down, keeping the Jets from sustaining a whole lot.
The Panthers were also able to draw four penalties — including one with 1:34 remaining which kept the Jets busy killing instead of attacking.
Florida went 0-4 on the power play but did enough to hold the lead and pick up the eighth road win of the season.
“We managed the puck very well, put it behind them and let our forwards do the heavy lifting,” Brunette said.
“Our D just kept it simple, gapped up and did the things they wanted to do. I really liked our forwards, how we reloaded, got on pucks and did not cheat offensively. That really helped our overall game.”
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Mason Marchment, Florida
2. Anton Lundell, Florida
3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida