Preview: Jets at Panthers
When a team travels to Florida to face the Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning, it usually plays the other a night or two later before departing the Sunshine State. But not in this lockout-shortened season. The Winnipeg Jets will play their third game in Florida in four nights when they pay a return visit to the Panthers on Friday. Florida defeated Winnipeg 4-1 on Tuesday, but the Panthers fell to 2-5-1 in their last eight games after a 7-1 loss at Washington on Thursday.While neither team has received stellar goaltending on a consistent basis this season, the Panthers may have hit bottom when Jacob Markstrom allowed goals on the first two shots he faced Thursday. Scott Clemmensen relieved him and surrendered the other five, including two on his first six shots. Ondrej Pavelec likely will get the start against Florida after backup Al Montoya made 28 saves in the Jets' 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday.TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN (Winnipeg), FSN (Florida)ABOUT THE JETS (11-11-1): Winnipeg snapped a two-game losing streak during which they were outscored 7-1 with an impressive performance against the Lightning. The Jets are 6-3-0 in their last nine games and pulled within four points of first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division. Winnipeg has the second-worst penalty-killing unit in the NHL at 75.3 percent - better than only Florida (73.4) - but hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 17 chances over the last six games. While captain Andrew Ladd (12), Evander Kane (nine) and Blake Wheeler (seven) have combined for 28 of Winnipeg's 58 goals, it was Bryan Little who delivered his fifth with 4:08 left to beat the Lightning.ABOUT THE PANTHERS (7-12-5): Florida trailed 4-0 after 8:10 had elapsed Thursday, and it didn't get any better from there. With nine players injured, including No. 1 goaltender Jose Theodore, the 23-year-old Markstrom will get a chance to distinguish himself, and how he responds to Thursday's performance will be a key to his development. Right wing Kris Versteeg has missed the last 12 games with a rib injury and is questionable to play Friday. Versteeg, who averaged 21.5 goals in his previous four seasons, has one in seven contests. The Panthers, who are last in the Southeast, have an NHL-worst goal differential of minus-30.OVERTIME1. Winnipeg finishes its unusual four-game road trip at New Jersey on Sunday.2. The Jets are 2-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games, while the Panthers are 0-3-0.3. The under is 6-0 in the second of Florida's last six back-to-back games and 8-0 in its third contest in four days.PREDICTION: Panthers 2, Jets 1
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