SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Depending on how you look at it, the Florida Panthers may be turning their season around.
The Panthers are beginning to find some footing with points in four straight and seven of eight as they prepare to host the pesky Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday to open a three-game homestand.
Florida followed up three straight losses in extra time at home with an impressive 3-1 victory at Dallas on Saturday with James Reimer spelling veteran Roberto Luongo in net for the second straight game.
There is no goalie controversy, though, with Luongo expected back between the pipes against the Jets as he attempts to break a tie with Terry Sawchuk (447) for fifth on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
“(Reimer) could get three, four starts in a row,” Luongo told reporters. “He’s playing very well right now. This was the plan all along, getting him some more time. I think everything has been working out great. All I care about is us winning games right now.”
The Jets will be hard pressed to equal their offensive output Tuesday when they recorded a 6-4 victory at Tampa Bay to win for the fifth time in eight games.
Speedy forward Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice in the win and boasts five goals and three assists over the last five games for Winnipeg, which is 3-2-1 in the second of back-to-backs.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet Pacific (Winnipeg), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE JETS (18-19-3): Winnipeg weathered an early storm in Tampa Bay on Tuesday — killing off a lengthy 4-on-3 power play — and took control midway through the first period before building a 4-1 lead in the second.
Mark Scheifele notched a goal and an assist to maintain his scoring lead with 35 points — one better than Ehlers and rookie Patrik Laine, who scored for the team-best 20th time and added a pair of helpers.
Connor Hellebuyck registered his 14th victory with 32 saves and coach Paul Maurice told reporters a decision would be made later on Wednesday’s starter in net.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (16-14-8): Reimer boasts a .950 save percentage in his last four starts and coach Tom Rowe calls him “a gamer,” but consistent goaltending is not an issue for Florida.
The Panthers were 25th in the league in goals per game (2.34) and 21st on the power play (16.2 percent) entering Tuesday’s action with leading scorer Aleksander Barkov (lower-body) out indefinitely.
Jonathan Marchessault owns four points in the last three games and 24 overall — three shy of Barkov — and Vincent Trocheck stepped up with three goals and two assists in the same span.
- The Panthers own points in the last four meetings, but fell 4-3 in a shootout at Winnipeg on Dec. 15.
- Winnipeg C Blake Wheeler helped set up a pair of goals Tuesday and boasts nine points in the last eight games.
- Florida F Colton Sceviour (shoulder), who has not scored since his hat trick Oct. 30, missed Saturday’s contest and is questionable for Wednesday.
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