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Perreault scores four goals to lead Jets to dominant win over Panthers

NHL.com @NHL

WINNIPEG - Mathieu Perreault said he got some lucky bounces.

Four of those bounces turned into goals on Tuesday, as the Winnipeg Jets trounced the Florida Panthers 8-2.

"Four goals, it's something very special," Perreault said. "Obviously, bounces were going my way.

"In the four goals, breakaways, (Michael) Frolik shoots it and it bounces right to me ... I had a couple chances in the third, too, to get maybe five. It was one of those crazy nights."

Perreault scored four goals with the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League about five or six years ago, but it's a different feeling in the NHL.

"You can't compare doing it at the highest level," Perreault said, who played with Anaheim last season and was a Winnipeg free-agent signing in July.

Fans gave the team and first-star Perreault a loud standing ovation after the victory, which earned Paul Maurice his 500th win as an NHL head coach.

The eight-goal output was a season-high for the Jets, one short of the franchise record.

Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien scored a pair of goals and added an assist. Jay Harrison and Evander Kane also scored for Winnipeg (22-14-8).

Dave Bolland, with his first of the season, and Brad Boyes had goals for Florida (20-12-9), which finished a six-game road trip by going 4-2-0.

Boyes said the Panthers made too many mistakes.

"I think my son who's 11 months now, he probably could have scored a couple tonight, too," Boyes said.

"It wasn't the way that we normally play."

Perreault's four-goal performance tied the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise record for most goals in a game. Former Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk was the last to do it in 2005 and Pascal Rheaume recorded the first one.

"It's great. Any time you see a guy get those four like that, it's fun," Byfuglien said. "It's fun to be a group.

"(But) the fun's over with now. We've got stuff to maintain and get back to work."

Perreault had his first-career hat trick on Jan. 24, 2012, against Boston. He almost didn't have his third goal Tuesday as it was first declared a Toby Enstrom goal, but then Perreault got the nod for a deflection.

He now has 15 goals and 14 assists in 43 games after starting the season going 19-straight games without a goal.

Rookie goalie Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves and had fun watching his teammates across the ice.

"Mathieu getting his hat trick and his fourth one, that was just huge," Hutchinson said.

"He's such a key player for us and he's had such a great year. He definitely deserves everything he got tonight. It was great to see it was on home ice and all the fans supported him."

Roberto Luongo started in net for Florida, but was pulled with 13:23 left in the second period in favour of Al Montoya after letting in four goals on 20 shots. Montoya made 11 stops.

The Jets mounted a 2-0 lead just past the midway point of the opening period on Perreault's first two goals and made it 3-0 early in the second.

The first goal came after Winnipeg capitalized on a Florida turnover followed by Perreault scoring his second goal just two seconds before a hooking penalty to Florida centre Nick Bjugstad expired.

Winnipeg made it 3-0 at 3:39 of the second period when Byfuglien took the puck up the left side of the ice, paused for a split second like he might pass, before snapping a quick shot that went over Luongo's glove.

Bolland scored at 5:15 to make it 3-1, but Byfuglien responded with his second goal of the game 68 seconds later when he squeezed a close shot through a gap between the post and Luongo's right pad at 6:23.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd assisted on Byfuglien's goal, extending his points streak to a career-tying seven games with four goals and five assists.

Montoya got the nod after the goal made it 4-1.

Perreault then scored back-to-back goals late in the second period to make it 6-1. Winnipeg had outshot the Panthers 25-20 after two periods.

Harrison widened the gap to 7-1 at 4:26 of the third period, Boyes made it 7-2 just over a minute later and Kane scored on the power play at 13:47 to end the rout.

"Great, great story in Matty Perreault scoring four," Maurice said. "First time I've seen that in almost five (years).

"And I'm happy for him, because he's done it the right way. You know he's worked so hard. He went through that stretch when he wasn't scoring. And his practices got even more competitive and he worked even harder and he had a stretch where he was just, competing on every puck."

The Jets head out for two-game road trip starting Thursday in Dallas. The Panthers host Colorado on Thursday.

"We had a great trip, but to end it off like this with a performance like tonight, we're disappointed," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said.

"So it wasn't one guy, it wasn't one line. It was every player on our team. We've just got to regroup tomorrow, go back home and get ready for the next game."

Notes ????????? Panthers winger Jussi Jokinen, 31, was playing in his 700th career game ????????? Jets' Frolik was a first-round draft pick (10th overall) by Florida in 2006.

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