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Penalty Trouble Continues to Plague Florida Panthers in Loss to Jets



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Referees intervene as the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets brawl during the third period on Saturday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers came into Saturday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets as the most penalized team in the NHL by a country mile.

A 20-penalty lead to be exact.

They took three more and allowed two power play goals that put them in a hole they struggled to get out of for most of the game.

The Panthers struck back with three power play goals of their own — including one by Matthew Tkachuk to cap off a two-goal comeback in the third period — but it was not enough as Mark Scheifele finished the game off in overtime as the Jets escaped Sunrise with a 5-4 win.

“It would be a bigger concern if we didn’t draw as many penalties as well,” coach Paul Maurice said.

”We are a high-event team for whatever reason; we get a bunch, we draw a bunch. We took nine penalties in four periods. We’re clearly aware of that.”

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As Maurice mentioned, Florida has had a lot of success this season drawing penalties — ranking second in the league in that category — but they still sit with a net penalty rating of minus-17.

The Tampa Bay Lightning fit in the same “high-event” category as the Panthers — ranking first in penalties drawn and second in penalties taken — but they do it in a more positive way.

Their net penalties have a 33-penalty swing in the positive direction with a rating of plus-16.

Tampa Bay has used that to their advantage and sits comfortably in third in the Atlantic Division because of it.

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A lot of Florida’s penalties have come from frustration or being in a position where they are chasing a game and it is something that is being talked about in the room.

”We’re desperate out there and we are trying really hard,” Marc Staal said.

”We are not trying to take penalties out there but sometimes desperation and emotion can come into it — and there are some tough calls here and there — but I think we got to minimize that to give ourselves a better chance.”

They put themselves in that position early on.

Schiefele finished up a one-timer on the power play to start things off 6:43 into the game.

Nikolaj Ehlers dug the hole even deeper with a quick wrist shot that caught Sergei Bobrovsky off guard 15:03 into his second start within a 24-hour span.

The Panthers controlled possession for a large portion of the opening frame — leading 19-9 in shots on goal — but they could not generate many quality chances and Connor Hellebuyck was up for the challenge.

He stopped all but one of those shots, a rebound that Matthew Tkachuk scooped up and put right past him with 3:12 to go in the first period.

That ended a seven-game drought for Tkachuk. And, he was not done.

Vladislav Namestnikov picked up his first goal as a Jet on the power play to restore their two-goal lead with 50.4 seconds left on the clock. He, too, was not done.

Sam Reinhart brought Florida back within one with a power play goal of his own 4:09 into the second, but Namestnikov restored their two-goal lead with 7:01 to go in the period.

Marc Staal started the Panthers’ third-period rally with a quick goal off of a feed from his brother, Eric, 33 seconds in.

Tkachuk picked up his second of the night on the power play the same way he did his first — a rebound — to tie the game with 6:24 to go.

Florida had its chance to win the game when Reinhart missed a gaping net after a cross-crease pass from Anthony Duclair caught Hellebuyck out of position 54 seconds into overtime and it ended up costing them.

Scheifele took care of business on the other end with 29 seconds left in overtime to take the extra point.

“The ice was pretty tilted in the third. If you would have told us we would get a point out of it, we would have taken that going into the third,” Tkachuk said.

“The way we were able to push and dominate the second half of that game, that’s something we need to continue to build on.’’

The Panthers made progress in the playoff race despite the loss, now sitting three points behind the New York Islanders for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

They got a little help from the Washington Capitals on Saturday night as the Islanders suffered a 5-1 trouncing in the nation’s capital.

Florida could use a lot more help like that to make the playoffs but their hopes continue to rest on them taking care of business themselves.

With Saturday’s loss, the Panthers have yet to string together four wins in a row but they will enter four off days on a four-game point streak.

They have earned those off days after playing the second-most games in the league — a lot of which have come on the road — but will have to use them wisely as they look to stay sharp heading into two crucial games against the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils.

”I am certainly not complaining about rest but I am complaining about over-rest,” Maurice said.

“But I was complaining about under-rest two months ago, so maybe I should stop complaining.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-1
  • This season (Florida leads 2-0): Panthers 7, Canadiens 2 (Dec. 29); Panthers 6, Canadiens 2 (Jan. 19)
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 53-38-11, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: New Jersey Devils at Florida, March 18, 5 p.m.

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