Perreault scores 4 goals as Jets rout Panthers 8-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Mathieu Perreault credited his first career four-goal game to some lucky bounces.
''Four goals, it's something very special,'' Perreault said after leading the Winnipeg Jets to an 8-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. ''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 Hershey in the American Hockey League about five or six years ago, but said it's a different feeling in the NHL.
''You can't compare doing it at the highest level,'' said Perreault, who signed with Winnipeg as a free agent in July.
Fans gave the team and 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. Dustin Byfuglien added two goals and an assist and Jay Harrison and Evander Kane also scored.
Dave Bolland and Brad Boyes scored for Florida, which finished 4-2-0 on a six-game trip.
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 tied the franchise record for most goals in a game. Ilya Kovalchuk was the last to do it for the Thrashers in 2005 and Pascal Rheaume had 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, who had his first career hat trick on Jan. 24, 2012, against Boston, now has 15 goals and 14 assists in 43 games this season.
Rookie goalie Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves for the Jets 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 favor of Al Montoya after letting in four goals on 20 shots. Montoya stopped 11 of the 15 shots he faced.
The Jets led 2-0 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 just inside the Panthers' blue line. Mark Scheifele got the puck and sent it across to Frolik at the point, whose shot went off the backboards. Defenseman Zach Bogosian picked up the ricochet and passed the puck to Perreault in front, who flipped it past Luongo for his 12th goal of the season at 7:24.
Perreault scored his second goal just 2 seconds before a hooking penalty to Florida's Nick Bjugstad expired. The Panthers' clearing attempt wasn't successful and Perreault ended up with the puck in the faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot by Luongo at with 8:36 remaining.
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, but then snapped a quick shot that went over Luongo's glove.
Bolland scored his first goal of the season 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 second goal, extending his points streak to a career-tying seven games with four goals and five assists.
Perreault then scored twice 1:09 apart to extend the lead to 6-1 with 3:28 left in the period.
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 with 6:13 remaining to cap the scoring.
''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 forward Michael Frolik was a first-round draft pick (10th overall) by Florida in 2006.