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Panthers explode late in 6-3 win over Jets

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Alex Kovalev scored the go-ahead goal during Florida's five-goal outburst in the third period, helping the Panthers rally for a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

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Kris Versteeg, Peter Mueller, Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Kopecky also scored in the third frame for the Panthers, who scored four unanswered goals in the final 8:40 after falling behind 3-2. Brian Campbell also scored and Jose Theodore stopped 21 shots to help Florida snap a five-game losing streak with its first win since the season opener on Jan. 19.

Tobias Enstrom, Olli Jokinen and Grant Clitsome scored as the Jets dropped their second in a row following a three-game win streak. Ondrej Pavelev had 28 saves for Winnipeg.

Trailing 3-2, Florida tied it at 3 on a goal by Mueller. Pavelev made a glove save on a shot by Filip Kuba but the puck bounced out and Mueller grabbed it and poked it in at 11:20.

The Panthers went ahead 4-3 on the power play just over a minute later when Kovalev's shot from the slot beat Pavelev. Florida then stretched its lead to 5-3 at 15:29 when Huberdeau's weak shot bounced off a defenseman and into the net. Kopecky added a power play goal late in the third for the final margin.

The Jets took a 3-2 lead at 7:38 of the third when Enstrom shot from just inside the left circle, beating Theodore on the glove side.

Jokinen gave the Jets a 2-1 lead at 1: 23 of the third with a wrister from the right side of the crease that got past Theodore.

The Panthers tied it at 2 a few minutes later on Versteeg's goal. Tomas Fleischmann passed from behind the goal line out to Versteeg in front and his wrister beat Pavelev at 3:35. Versteeg made his first start of the season after missing the first five games because of injury.

The Panthers got on the board first on Campbell's goal at 5:14 of the second period during a 5-on-3 power play. Campbell took a shot from the top of the right circle that bounced past Pavelec and into the net. It was the fifth consecutive game that the Jets have allowed the first goal.

The Jets tied it at 16:11 of the second when Clitsome fired a shot from above the left circle that caromed off the inside post and into the net for his first goal of the season.

Florida's Scottie Upshall left the game after being injured in a fight with James Wright in the third period. Upshall struck his head on the boards after his helmet came off during the fight and he also came off the ice limping.

Notes: Panthers D Ed Jovanovski is expected to miss at least two games after injuring his knee Tuesday at Tampa. ... C Marcel Goc made his season debut after being medically cleared from an injury while playing in Germany during the lockout. ... Jets D Dustin Byfuglien was scratched Thursday with an undisclosed injury. ... D Zach Redmond made his NHL debut after being a healthy scratch the first six games.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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