Jets top Panthers 5-2, spoil Maurice’s return to Winnipeg

December 7, 2022 GMT
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Florida Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk (19) carries the puck behind Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Florida Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk (19) carries the puck behind Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Kyle Connor had two goals and an assist as the Jets spoiled Paul Maurice’s return to Winnipeg with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Mark Scheifele had a pair of power-play goals and Adam Lowry added an empty-net goal for the Jets. Pierre-Luc Dubois finished with three assists. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 38 of 40 shots as Winnipeg improved to 10-3-0 at home.

Zac Dalpe and Carter Verhaeghe scored for Florida. Spencer Knight made 12 saves on 15 shots before being replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky early in the second. Bobrovsky stopped 16 of 17 shots.

The game marked Maurice’s return to Winnipeg, where he spent parts of nine seasons coaching the Jets before leaving abruptly midway through last season. The 55-year-old Maurice signed on as Florida’s bench boss in June.

The 13,426 fans at Canada Life Centre stood and cheered as Maurice and assistant Jamie Kompon, who was also his assistant coach in Winnipeg, were recognized on the big screen.

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“It’s a special place for Jamie and I, isn’t it? We really appreciated it,” Maurice said. “It was good on the bench, it was good in the stands. That was very classy, as they always are.”

Scheifele enjoyed the triumph over his former coach.

“I’m not going to lie, that was a good win in my books,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with that one.

“At the end of the day, we’ve moved on. We’re a different team this year than we were last year. It’s been exciting for a lot of us. … I think it’s been awesome for me, it’s been awesome for a lot of us.”

Dalpe, a recent call-up, pulled the Panthers 4-2 at the 9:02 mark of the third period. He beat Hellebuyck after a nifty passing play from Chris Tierney and Matt Kiersted.

“We obviously didn’t get the result we wanted for Mo (Maurice), but there were a lot of good things for sure,” Dalpe said. “Obviously we want to play well for him, too, in his old rink. ... Obviously, we didn’t get the result, but pretty positive.”

Scheifele scored his second of the game on a power play in the second period.

With Panthers defenseman Josh Mahura off for boarding Blake Wheeler, Scheifele converted a perfect pass from Connor alone in front of Bobrovsky at 13:23. Defenseman Nate Schmidt also assisted.

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Connor increased the advantage to 3-1 early in the second. He stole the puck from Florida forward Ryan Lomberg in the Panthers’ zone and quickly passed to Dubois, who passed it back. Connor then fired a shot past Knight at the 1:43 mark.

“I thought we just came in with the right mentality,” Connor said. “We knew what we needed to do. The start of the last game (down 2-0) wasn’t it. It was on us to come out and I thought we responded really well.”

Winnipeg took a 2-1 lead 17 seconds after the Panthers had tied the score. Connor fired the puck past Knight after taking a pass from Dubois. Defenseman Brenden Dillon also assisted.

The Panthers had knotted the score at 1-1 on the power play. Just 49 seconds after the Jets had scored, Verhaeghe snapped a shot past Hellebuyck with Dillon off for interference. Forward Matthew Tkachuk and defenseman Brandon Montour had the assists.

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The Jets opened the scoring on a power play in the first. With Florida forward Sam Bennett off for high-sticking, Scheifele converted a perfect pass from Dubois at the 13:20 mark. Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey started the play.

NOTES: Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck played his 400 NHL career game. … The contest was the last of a five-game road trip by the Panthers.

UP NEXT

Florida: Host Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

Winnipeg: At St. Louis on Thursday in the first of a two-game trip.

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