-- On Saturday night for the first time since early December, the Florida Panthers
could leave a visiting building for the airport with two points packed away.
The Panthers' 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets
at the MTS Centre finally ended an eight-game road drought for the Panthers. Florida had not won in an opponent's building since taking a 2-0 decision at Boston back on Dec. 8. That win in Boston was the Panthers' 10th road victory of the season before their long 0-4-4 tailspin unfolded.
"[Strong road play was] something that we really prided ourselves in at the start of the year," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen
said. "We had a strong road record, we played hard on the road, and it's something that we talked about before the season."
Given the circumstances, while the Florida dressing room fully acknowledged that the process lacked beauty and regretted surrendering a point to a division rival, the two points that the club carried back to South Florida were all that really mattered.
"We just needed a way to get a win, no matter how it happened," said Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen
, whose 41-save evening helped the Panthers to steal a point in Winnipeg.
The Panthers are jostling with the Jets and Washington Capitals
for control of the Southeast Division, which would help them avoid the dogfight for the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race that continues to unfold.
"We've got to keep pace with everyone," Clemmensen said. "We've got teams in front of us, we've got teams behind us, including [the Jets]. We had a good start to the season, but we can't just float on that."