The good news for the Florida Panthers was they were finally able to score some goals and got their first lead of the young season Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
But there was plenty of bad news.
Florida’s first lead of the season came 25 seconds into the second period yet lasted a mere 10 seconds as Winnipeg ended up scoring three in the frame and took out the winless Panthers 6-4 despite a late rally.
The new-look defense definitely looked like it needs more time to gel as the Jets took full advantage of some bad coverage deep in the Florida zone as the three second-period goals came off wide-open shots.
Kyle Connor tied the score at 2 as he one-timed a shot while left alone in the slot. Morgan Barron was in a similar position at 8:20 as the Jets retook the lead with Dylan DeMelo scoring from the top of the right circle to give Winnipeg a two-goal cushion going into the third.
Florida has now trailed by 2 in each of their first two games as the Panthers lost their opening two games for the first time since 2018 — and first two in regulation since 2010.
The Panthers trailed 1-0 in the first before Sam Reinhart got the first goal of the season off a power play chance at 17:03.
Evan Rodrigues, who passed Reinhart that puck, made it 2-1 with his first goal with the Panthers 25 seconds into the second.
Rodrigues scored twice in the game as he tipped in a shot from Sasha Barkov late in the third. He ended with four points.
There was certainly some excitement to kick off the final period when Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Scheifele threw down at center ice after Scheifele jabbed at Tkachuk’s midsection with his stick.
Both went in for five.
In the third, Winnipeg appeared to put the nail in this one off a shorthanded goal with 5:43 remaining.
Only Florida pulled Bobrovsky not long afterward and Carter Verhaeghe and Rodrigues both scored to make it a 1-goal game.
With Dmitry Kulikov in the box for holding, Tkachuk got loose and drove in on Connor Hellebuyck but hit the cage.
That was as close as Florida got to tying the score as Kyle Connor ended it with his second of the day into an empty net goal on the power play with 1:10 left.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Jets 1, Panthers 0 (3:30, 1st PP): Mark Scheifele splits the Florida defense off the blueline, walks in and beats Sergei Bobrovsky on the power play.
- Panthers 1, Jets 1 (17:03, 1st PP): Sam Reinhart got in front of the net and knocked in a nice feed from Evan Rodrigues for Florida’s first goal of the new season.
- Panthers 2, Jets 1 (0:25, 2nd): Rodrigues works down low and puts back a shot from Dmitry Kulikov for Florida’s first lead of the new season.
- Jets 2, Panthers 2 (0:35, 2nd): Winnipeg charged up ice, got the puck behind the net where Scheifele finds Kyle Connor all by himself in the slot.
- Jets 3, Panthers 2 (8:20, 2nd): Morgan Barron beats Bobrovsky from in front.
- Jets 4, Panthers 2 (9:55, 2nd): Dylan DeMelo rifles off a shot from the top of the right circle on Winnipeg’s 18th shot of the game.
- Jets 5, Panthers 2 (14:17, 3rd SH): Winnipeg captain Adam Lowry stripped the puck from Matthew Tkachuk deep in the zone, lost his stick but grabbed one off the bench and continued the pay into the Florida zone. He then slid a pass to a streaking Neal Pionk.
- Jets 5, Panthers 3 (16:31, 3rd): With the net empty, Carter Verhaeghe pulled the Panthers back within two goals.
- Jets 5, Panthers 4 (17:36, 3rd): Captain Sasha Barkov let one rip from the top of the slot with Rodrigues tipping it down low for his second of the game.
- Jets 6, Panthers 4 (18:50, 3rd EN): With Bobrovsky out of his net and the Jets on the power play, Connor ended this one.
GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME
1. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg (goal, assist)
2. Kyle Connor, Winnipeg (2 goals)
3. Evan Rodrigues, Florida (2 goals, 2 assists)
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PANTHERS @ NEW JERSEY DEVILS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Prudential Center, Newark
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM 2;WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- This Season: Panthers @ Devils, Monday; Devils @ Panthers, Jan. 13; Panthers @ Devils, March 5
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Devils lead 57-35-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Home Opener; Thursday vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.