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game recap

Jagr, Smith power Panthers past Jets

Florida ends two-game skid, back on top in Atlantic

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

Jagr's 21st goal of the season

FLA@WPG: Jagr puts Panthers on top with goal in 3rd

3/1/16: Jaromir Jagr skates in from the slot and buries a one-timer for his 21st goal of the season, putting the Panthers up by a goal

  • 00:45 •

WINNIPEG -- Jaromir Jagr scored early in the third period to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

With Winnipeg leading 2-1 and holding a 25-10 shots advantage at the start of the third period, Florida forward Reilly Smith scored his second goal of the game at 1:46 on the power play to tie it.

Jagr followed with the game-winner 1:45 later on a wobbling shot that fooled Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

"Sometimes you've got to be lucky to win games," Jagr said.

Florida goalie Roberto Luongo made 30 saves, and center Vincent Trocheck had two assists.

Video: FLA@WPG: Smith ties it up on a PPG in the 3rd period

The Panthers had seven of the first eight shots to start the third period. Winnipeg penalties 66 seconds apart put Florida on a 5-on-3 power play 44 seconds into the third, and Smith tipped in a pass to the edge of the crease at 1:46.

"It was a pretty ugly first 40 minutes, that's for sure," Smith said. "It seemed like that power play kind of turned things around."

Said Panthers coach Gerard Gallant: "We really had tough first two periods, and they dominated. We probably got lucky winning that hockey game. Winnipeg deserved better, and we didn't deserve to win but found a way. [Luongo] was the main thing.

"We played for 20 minutes at the end of the game and we found a way to win, but I wasn't happy with the way we competed and battled."

Video: FLA@WPG: Smith opens the scoring with goal in 1st

Smith, who established a new NHL career-high with his 21st goal, opened the scoring at 13:48 of the first period when he drove to the net and deflected Trocheck's left-side pass into the high slot past Pavelec.

Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Copp scored in the second period for Winnipeg (26-32-4), which has lost 10 of its past 12 games at home.

The Panthers (36-19-8), who are two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division, ended a two-game skid (0-1-1). Their five-game road trip continues Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Smith's line with Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen took some of the burden off Florida's top line of Jagr, Aleksander Barkov and the recently acquired Jiri Hudler.

"[Trocheck] has got eyes in the back of his head," Smith said. "I think he passed up a couple of shots to set me up, but it seemed like it worked out. He's a great passer. With [Jokinen] too, it seems like a lot of things are clicking."

Video: FLA@WPG: Byfuglien knots it up with goal in 2nd

By the second period, Winnipeg had outshot Florida 19-6 when Byfuglien broke loose in front of Luongo and flicked in his 16th goal at 5:23. Copp followed at 7:59, finishing a partial breakaway for his second goal of the season.

From there, Florida's power play, Jagr and strong neutral-zone play took control.

"We didn't play the third period the way we played the first two," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "Our transition game changed. We slowed our transition through the neutral zone, and that's why we didn't look the way in the third the way we looked in the first two.

"[Florida's] game changes at 3-2. They get a little tighter. They're not pressing through the neutral zone, kind of defend a little differently."

Video: FLA@WPG: Copp nets lead with shorthanded goal

Said Luongo: "We had a good third period. We got the job done. I thought we really started to skate in the third.

"[Balanced scoring] has been one of the strengths of our team. We've gotten contributions from throughout the lineup. It was huge for our [team] to tie it up, momentum-wise, and get the boys going a little bit there."

Luongo downplayed moving ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic standings.

"I think right now we're about playing game to game," Luongo said. "We want to be in first, but we don't want to look at the standings too much. We just want to come work every day and keep it focused on the day."

The Jets' five-game homestand continues when they host the New York Islanders on Thursday.

"I think we played extremely well," said Pavelec, who had 19 saves. "I think for the first two periods, we were the way better team. There are games where you play well, and you get zero points, and that's exactly what happened."

Video: Smith, Jagr power Panthers past Jets in Winnipeg

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