FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida
– Following a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues and a long flight through the night, the Winnipeg Jets reconvened at the team hotel in Fort Lauderdale to meet as a group
and prepare for tomorrow’s date with the Florida Panthers.
The Jets were originally scheduled to practice today at the BB&T Center, but after arriving at 3:30am ET, the club opted for an off-ice workout instead.
The Jets are now 1-1-0 on this four-game road trip and are looking to bounce back after one of the most disappointing losses of the season. The team rallied back from a three-goal, third-period deficit, only to lose 5-4 after giving up a tough goal late.
Ondrej Pavelec spoke to the media today to address Barret Jackman’s game-winning tally.
“You have to. You have no choice,” Pavelec said about putting the game behind him. “I’ve been in this league for long enough that you’re not going to change what happened. I’ve got to look
forward and be ready for the next practice.”
Jackman’s wrister came from just outside the blue line.
“I thought he was going to dump it in – then I lost the puck in the stands,” Pavelec said. “What happened happened. But it happened at a bad time.”
“He was pretty frustrated, but he knows and you don’t want to talk to him much – if anything, maybe try and cheer him up a bit,” Jets forward Michael Frolik, who scored the opening goal last night and is now on a career-high seven-game point streak, said following today's team meeting.
Frolik, a fellow Czech, is one of Pavelec’s best friends. The goaltender hasn’t started since Feb. 19 at Washington, but he did look good in relief of Michael Hutchinson, posting 19 saves in a little more than 28 minutes of work.
“He’s a great goalie and he proved it in the game,” Frolik said. “You want to help him and try to help him and talk to him. He was pretty down on himself.”
“It hurts. It was a bad loss but we proved that we could come back and we definitely wanted to take it from there. Today’s a new day.”
Added Head Coach Paul Maurice: “You deal with it and move on. It’s tough to claw back there and have it get away the way it did, but we’ve got a game tomorrow night.”
And a big one at that as we turn to the back half of one of the longest road trips of the season.
“We play Florida (Thursday), so our focus has to shift to them,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said post-game in St. Louis.
Those Panthers are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders, but have only won four of their last 10. With 72 points on the year, the Panthers are six points out of an Eastern Conference Wild Card playoff spot.
These teams have met only once so far this season, back on Jan. 13 at MTS Centre. Mathieu Perreault scored a career-high four goals that night as the hometown Jets defeated the road-weary Panthers 8-2.
“We’ll get a different look than we’ve had (before),” Maurice said. “They were coming off a long trip and now they’ve competed hard and added a player (Jaromir Jagr) that has made their group feel better about their team. They move the puck well and that speed is going to be really important. It’s not going to be an overly physical contest, but it will be about those one-on-one battles.”
As for who will get the start in goal tomorrow night, Maurice wasn’t tipping his hat.
“I’ve got my guy picked but I’ll tell you tomorrow,” he said.
“I don’t feel it’s a particularly difficult (decision) right now. I’m pretty clear about who’s starting.”
— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com