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Panthers, Jets set to begin season series

by Davis Harper
JETS (3-6-1) at PANTHERS (6-4-0)


Last 10: Winnipeg 3-6-1, Florida 6-4-0.

Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. Last season when they were still the Atlanta Thrashers, the Winnipeg franchise took four of six from the Panthers -- but all six meetings were decided by a single goal.

Big Story: Both Winnipeg and Florida enter Monday's showdown plagued by inconsistency. Just days after their epic 9-8 victory over Philadelphia, the Jets failed to find the net Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay. For the Panthers, the story is late goals. They beat Buffalo 3-2 Saturday with two goals in the last 3:48, but that came on the heels of a late collapse to Ottawa in which Nick Foligno notched the game-winner with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.

Team Scope:

Jets: Lost among the offensive onslaught at Philadelphia -- followed by the complete lack thereof in Tampa Bay -- has been the play of goalie Ondrej Pavelec. The 24-year-old Czech has endured inconsistencies of his own -- at 2-4-1 with a 3.75 goals against average, he's not exactly in line for the Vezina Trophy -- but he most recently made 27 saves in the loss to the Lightning.
"It's a difficult one," Pavelec said of the loss to Tampa Bay. "You let eight goals in and you get the two points, and now it's a one-goal game and you get the loss. I mean, it is what it is. That's why hockey's so nice."

Pavelec couldn't ask for a better team to turn things around against. He's 4-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA in six career starts against Florida -- 3-0-0 with a 1.63 GAA in three at the BankAtlantic Center.

Panthers: At 6-4-0 and second in the Southeast, perennial bottom-feeder Florida is off to an encouraging start. The Panthers return home Monday after winning two of three on a road trip in which all the games were decided by one goal. Florida coach Kevin Dineen spoke highly of his team's improving late-game poise.

"We talked a lot about all this new personnel we have, and you can do all the team bonding stuff you want, (but) it's games like that that make a difference for you," Dineen said about Saturday's win. "So it turns into a good road trip, could have been a great road trip but you've gotta like the bounce-back game."

Who's Hot: Like Pavelec, Florida goalie Jose Theodore has enjoyed past success against the opposition. In 21 starts against Atlanta, the veteran is 14-5-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average. That's to say nothing of his impressive 4-2 mark thus far this season for the new-look Panthers.

Injury Report: Winnipeg goalie Chris Mason is expected to miss Monday's game with a strained right groin. Ron Hainsey (upper body) is day-to-day, while Eric Fehr (shoulder) and Derek Meech (lower body) are out. … Sean Bergenheim hasn't played for Florida since Oct. 18 due to soreness, and Mikael Samuelsson is out with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack: Stephen Weiss was a rare bright spot for the Panthers in the 2010-11 season series between these teams. Weiss had a team-high six points and three goals, while no other Panther tallied more than one in the six meetings.

Puck Drop: Florida may be new-look in terms of wins and scoring output, but they've stocked the ranks with savvy veterans. The most recent addition is Samuelsson, who was traded from Vancouver on Oct. 22 but has yet to make his Panthers debut. He joins former Canucks teammate Marco Sturm, who will become the first German player to make his 900th NHL appearance Monday night.

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