The Florida Panthers had a golden opportunity to lock up a playoff spot on Tuesday night but the Cats fell short at home to the Winnipeg Jets, losing 5-4 in overtime. The Jets reeled off four unanswered goals after the Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead and looked to be firmly in control halfway through the game.
Marco Sturm and Kris Versteeg spotted the Panthers a 2-0 lead after two early goals. Sturm took a feed from Dmitry Kulikov to beat Ondrej Pavelec for only his third goal of the season. Versteeg blasted a power play goal through for his 23rd of the year. Then, just 25 seconds into the second period Versteeg hooked up again with Tomas Fleischmann to give the Cats the 3-0 lead.
But Jose Theodore would surrender four goals in less than 11 minutes as the game turned in the blink of an eye. Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian made it a one-goal game as the teams went to the locker room during the second intermission. Andrew Ladd would tie it up and then Bryan Little gave the Jets their first lead of the game with 16 minutes remaining in the third.
Tomas Kopecky would for overtime with his 10th of the season with a little less than four minutes remaining in regulation. Ladd, however, would beat Theodore for the second time to clinch the win three minutes into overtime. Theodore gave up five goals on just 30 shots, and really broke down during that 10 minute stretch at the end of the second and start of the third period. The Cats now have a huge road game in Washington on Thursday night, where they will have another shot to lock up the Southeast Division.
For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Panthers, visit Litter Box Cats, SB Nation's Florida Panthers blog. For the perspective from the other bench, check out Arctic Ice Hockey, SB Nation's Winnipeg Jets blog. For your hockey news as the hockey playoffs rapidly approach, check out SB Nation's NHL news hub.