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Ladd lifts Jets to O.T. win

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Andrew Ladd scored his second overtime winner in the last three games to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers tonight.

Ladd's low shot just inside the far post beat Jose Theodore and completed an unlikely road comeback for the Jets.

Winnipeg fell behind 3-0 early in the second period, but scored four straight goals to take the lead. The Panthers tied the game late in the third period, but Ladd's goal boosted the Jets to 2-0-1 on their current road trip.

The Jets improved to 37-34-9, and prevented the Panthers (37-25-18) from clinching their first Southeast Division title.

Tomas Kopecky tied the game for the Panthers with just 3:53 left in regulation after the Jets had taken control of the game.

Ladd scored his first goal of the night 53 seconds into the third to tie the game and Bryan Little added a power-play goal at 3:45 of the period to give Winnipeg its first lead of the night.

The second period saw the Panthers take a 3-0 lead before the Jets began to mount their comeback.

Tomas Fleischmann scored 25 seconds into the second period to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.

Fleischmann's one-timer looked to be going wide, but hit Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey's shoulder and got past Ondrej Pavelec's glove.

Evander Kane's 30th goal of the season got the Jets on the board in the second. Spencer Machacek fed Kane on a two-on-one to make it 3-1.

Then Zach Bogosian blasted it home after a scramble in front of Florida goalie Jose Theodore to cut the lead to 3-2.

The Panthers scored twice in the first period against a Jets team that was lethargic from the outset.

Marco Sturm pounced on a rebound and easily put it into the Winnipeg net for his third goal of the season 12:03 into the game.

Brian Campbell's point shot on the power play hit two sticks en route to the back of the Jets net to make it 2-0. Kris Versteeg was the last Panther to touch the puck, giving him his seventh goal of the season against the Jets.

The Jets lost forwards Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood to broken feet in the first two games of the road trip. Patrice Cormier was called up from St. John's.

The Jets wrap up their final road trip of the season Thursday night on Long Island, and return home to finish their schedule against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

GAME ADVANCER

Join the Free Press for live coverage tonight as the Jets take on the Florida Panthers (6:30 p.m., BankAtlantic Center, TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

The Jets have dropped four of their last five and now have a 36-34-9 mark with three games left.

The teams have met five times this season, with the Jets holding a 2-2-1 record in those contests. The Jets won the last by a score of 7-0, but lost three straight before that.

Winnipeg has lost Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood, both to a broken foot, in the last couple of games. Patrice Cormier has been recalled to fill in.

The Panthers' Kris Versteeg has killed the Jets in the series with eight points (6G, 2A). The Panthers are 37-25-17 and hold a three-point lead on the Washington Capitals in the race for first in the Southeast Division.

The Panthers are 1-1-3 in their last five and 20-9-10 on home ice. Defenceman Jason Garrison is tied for two franchise records: most power-play goals by a defenceman in a season (9) and most game-winning goals by a defenceman in a season (3).

 

Game preview

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Winnipeg Jets have been reduced to the role of spoiler but their dislike of the Florida Panthers will help them get up for tonight’s game.

The Panthers can clinch the Southeast Divsion and third in the conference with a win tonight (6:30 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290) and the Jets will try to push that party off until another night.

“They’re trying to do what we wanted to do and while they deserve if for being a good team we don’t want to help them,” said Jets centre Jim Slater. “We have to try and play spoiler. That’s our job and other teams expect it from us.”

Panthers defenceman Jason Garrison says he expects the Jets to be ready and on their game.

“They’ve played us hard all year and everybody in this room remembers the 7-0 beating they gave us in our last meeting,” said Garrison, who has 16 goals and 15 assists. “It’s a divisional game and they play hard. They’ve got dangerous players over there and it should be a good matchup.”

First year Panthers coach Kevin Dineen has overseen a rapid rise of the Panthers who, should they clinch, will be returning to the post-season for the first time since 1999-2000.

“This will be a major accomplishment. It’s what every organization wants, to make the playoffs, and a lot of people have worked hard to make this happen,” said Dineen. “We’d love to get it done on home ice in front of our fans that have been great all year.”

The Jets will start Ondrej Pavelec in net while Jose Theodore will go for the Panthers.

Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien did not skate but according to coach Claude Noel will play tonight. Randy Jones left the ice with the rest of the regulars while Mark Flood and Grant Clitsome stayed out longer so expect Jones to get back in on the blue line while Clitsome will rest.

Flood spent time in the New York Islanders chain and will likely get a chance to play Thursday night in Long Island.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

History

Updated on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 5:42 PM CDT: Prepares game preview.

6:59 PM: Updates with first goal

7:06 PM: Adds second goal

7:35 PM: Adds third goal by Panthers

8:01 PM: adds Jets goal

8:05 PM: Adds Jets second goal

8:28 PM: Adds tie goal

8:33 PM: Adds Jets' fourth goal

9:18 PM: adds Ladd's O.T. goal

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