Panthers 4, Jets 1

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers, led by rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom in only his third start of the season, defeated the Winnipeg Jets, 4-1, Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.
Markstrom, who arrived from the minors too late to start Sunday against Carolina, was on time Tuesday, making 28 saves to help the Panthers snap a three-game losing streak.
It was just the third win of Markstrom's career (3-7-1) and his first since Oct. 24, 2011 against Montreal.
The Panthers, who entered the night in last place in the Eastern Conference, now have 19 points in 23 games. Winnipeg has 21 points in 22 games, and both teams are chasing Southeast Division leader Carolina.
The Panthers scored quickly Tuesday, getting the game's first goal with just 5:07 elapsed in the first period on a slapshot by red-hot Tomas Kopecky.
It was the ninth goal of the season for Kopecky, who was skating on the right side and was set up by slick passes from Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann.
Winnipeg tied the score 1:42 into the second period on the first goal of the season by Kyle Wellwood. Jets captain Andrew Ladd got the assist.
The Panthers regained the lead, 2-1, with 9:55 gone in the second period. Fleischmann and Colby Robak set up center Shawn Matthias, who made a couple of sweet moves around Jets defenders before scoring past Ondrej Pavelec.
It was the first point of Robak's NHL career.
With 14:50 gone in the second period, the Panthers were awarded a penalty shot after Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien was caught hooking on a breakaway.
Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau converted the penalty shot, scoring with a high shot to Pavelec's glove side. It was his 11th goal of the season, and it made the score, 3-1, Panthers.
Early in the fourth period, the Panthers pulled away when Mike Santorelli followed his own shot, pounced on the rebound and scored his first goal of the season. Brian Campbell and Erik Gudbranson got the assists.
NOTES: Jets all-star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who missed practice Monday to attend to a family matter, played Tuesday. ... Panthers center Stephen Weiss was ruled out for the season because of a wrist injury. Meanwhile, goalie Jose Theodore likely will miss six weeks with a groin injury. ... Weiss, 29, and Theodore, 36, are free agents after this season. There is a solid chance that neither player will return to the Panthers next season. The Panthers won't be able to deal either of them before this year's trade deadline because of their injuries. ... Pavelec made his 10th straight start and coach Claude Noel said he expects his goalie to continue to get a heavy workload. "He's very important to us," Noel said. "He's in a really good groove right now." Noel said he expects to rest Pavelec "somewhere in March" when his team plays 16 games. ... Winnipeg's backup goalie is Al Montoya, who has played four games this season, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage. ... Winnipeg winger Blake Wheeler, who suffered a deep bone contusion after blocking a shot Saturday against Washington, practiced Monday and said he was fine. "I drank a lot of milk when I was young," Wheeler said of his strong bones, "so I guess that helps." ... Winger Jon Rheault, 26, signed by the Panthers this summer, made his NHL debut on Tuesday. Rheault was the Flyers' fifth-round pick in 2006. ... Winnipeg was again without defensemen Tobias Enstrom and Zach Redmond and winger Anthony Peluso. ... The injury-plagued Panthers are still without forward Kris Versteeg and three of their top six defensemen: Ed Jovanovski, Dmitry Kulikov and Mike Weaver.

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