East-leading Panthers beat Jets 6-1, win streak at 9 games
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, Jonathan Huberdeau and Gustav Forsling each scored twice and the Florida Panthers won their ninth straight game, beating the Winnipeg Jets 6-1 on Friday night.
Bobrovsky picked up win number 36 for the season, a franchise record.
“It’s a team record. It’s not about me. It’s all about the team,” Bobrovsky said. “By myself I’m nothing, but as a team we’re strong.”
Huberdeau, who also picked up an assist, had two goals in the first five minutes. He has 30 goals this season, and extended his career-best points streak to 13 games, joining Mike Hoffman (17 in 2018-19) and Pavel Bure (13 in 1999-2000) as the only Panthers to have point streaks of 13 or more games.
“We have a special team. We’re excited for what’s coming up,” Huberdeau said.
Mason Marchment and Maxim Mamin also scored, and Claude Giroux had three assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Panthers, who have the longest active win streak in the NHL. Florida has 112 points, two behind Colorado in the race for the most in the NHL. Both teams have eight games remaining.
“I thought he (Bobrovsky) was rock solid tonight,” interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “He was dialed in and played exceptionally well. He’s had a great season.”
Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck allowed four goals on 26 shots before being replaced by Eric Comrie at the start of the third period. Comrie had 15 stops.
Ehlers goal 1:07 into the third period cut Florida’s lead to 4-1, but the Panthers answered less than a minute later with a goal by Marchment to make it 5-1. Mamin’s goal with 13 minutes left made it 6-1.
“We look at the result here tonight and it’s extremely disappointing,” interim coach Dave Lowry said. “It’s not pretty hockey. Everybody wants to score a pretty goal and make highlight-reel goals. We have to play direct and play in a straight line. The way we played isn’t winning hockey.”
Forsling stretched the Panthers’ lead to 3-0 on his first goal 2:56 of the second. Forsling had just exited the penalty box when he grabbed the puck, skated in and backhanded the puck past Hellebuyck.
“It’s not every day I come out of the box like that. I think that might have been my first backhand goal ever, so that felt good for sure,” Forsling said.
Forsling’s second tally, from the high slot on a pass from Huberdeau, extended the lead to 4-0 with 3:39 left in the second.
Huberdeau’s first goal gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 2:03 in. Giroux’s shot from the high slot ricocheted off the board and in front to Huberdeau, who flipped the puck into the net.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead when Huberdeau took a pass from Giroux on the right side and slid the puck under Hellebuyck’s pad at 4:47 of the first.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Ehlers said. “Our line gets scored on the first two shifts. Straight up, that’s not good enough. They’re a great team and we’re not good enough.”
3 WITH 30
Huberdeau became the third Florida player to reach the 30-goal mark this season, joining Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair. It’s the second time a Panthers team has had three 30-goal scorers, after Barkov, Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman reached the mark in 2018-19. Florida could have five by the time the season ends, with Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett having legitimate chances of reaching 30 goals, too.
NOTES: This road trip marks Winnipeg’s final regular-season games in the U.S. this season. After games at Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers and Carolina, the Jets return home for their final four games. ... Before Friday, Florida hadn’t played host to Winnipeg since Nov. 14, 2019. ... It marked the second time Huberdeau had a two-goal first period this season. He also did it at Anaheim on March 18. … Panthers D MacKenzie Weegar played his 300the NHL game. ... The Panthers held a moment of silence before the game in memory of Mike Bossy. The Hall of Famer and four-time Stanley Cup winner, who played 10 years with the New York Islanders, died Thursday at 65.
Jets: Visit Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Panthers: Visit Detroit on Sunday.