Connor scores twice, Jets top Panthers 5-2 in Maurice's return to Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Kyle Connor scored twice and added an assist to help the Jets spoil Paul Maurice's return to Winnipeg with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Mark Scheifele put away a pair of power-play goals and Adam Lowry scored the Jets' fifth goal into an empty net. Pierre-Luc Dubois chipped in with three assists.

Zac Dalpe and Carter Verhaeghe replied for Florida (12-10-4).

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 38-of-40 shots for Winnipeg (16-7-1).

Spencer Knight made 12 saves on 15 shots before being replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky early in the second. Bobrovsky stopped 16-of-17 shots.

The Jets are now 9-3-0 at home this season.

Tuesday's game marked Maurice's return to Winnipeg where he spent parts of nine seasons coaching the Jets before leaving abruptly midway through last season. The 55-year-old signed on as Florida's bench boss in June.

Dalpe, a recent call-up, pulled the Panthers to within 4-2 at the 9:02 mark of the third period. He beat Hellebuyck after a nifty passing play from Chris Tierney and Matt Kiersted.

Scheifele scored his second of the game on a second-period power play.

With Panthers defenceman Josh Mahura off for boarding Blake Wheeler, Scheifele converted a perfect pass from Connor alone in front of Bobrovsky at 13:23. Defenceman Nate Schmidt also assisted.

Connor upped the score to 3-1 early in the second. He stole the puck from Florida forward Ryan Lomberg in the Panthers zone and quickly passed it to Dubois, who passed it back. Connor then fired a shot past Knight at the 1:43 mark.

Winnipeg took a 2-1 lead only 17 seconds after the Panthers had tied the score. Connor fired the puck past Knight after taking a pass from Dubois. Defenceman Brenden Dillon also assisted.

The Panthers had knotted the score at 1-1 on the power play. Just 49 seconds after the Jets had scored, Verhaeghe snapped a shot past Hellebuyck with Dillon off for interference. Forward Matthew Tkachuk and defenceman Brandon Montour had the helpers.

The Jets had opened the scoring on a first-period power play. With Florida forward Sam Bennett off for high-sticking, Scheifele converted a perfect pass from Dubois at the 13:20 mark. Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey started the play.

NOTES: Former Jets coaches Maurice and Jamie Kompon received a standing ovation after a video tribute on the scoreboard during the first period. The coaches smiled and waved in appreciation … Maurice said earlier Tuesday he would likely have removed the C from Blake Wheeler’s jersey eventually had he stayed in Winnipeg because players in their mid-thirties tend to lose touch with the younger players … Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck played his 400th NHL career game … The contest was the last of a five-game road trip by the Panthers … The Panthers called up forward Chris Tierney from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers to replace Patric Hornqvist (upper body), who has been placed on injured reserve. They also recalled Dalpe and defenceman Matt Kiersted from Charlotte.

UP NEXT

Jets: Will play the first of a two-game road trip in St. Louis against the Blues on Thursday.

Panthers: Will return home to host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

Jim Bender, The Canadian Press