By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — On a team with plenty of scoring power, Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment took his turn in the spotlight Tuesday.
Marchment scored twice and added an assist as Florida defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 before 250 fans.
“It was his best game by far,” Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunette said of Marchment. “He’s a unique player for us and he brings a dimension unlike a lot of players like him.
“And he creates a lot of different things with his size, his reach, his tenacity. He’s got a little physical presence. It’s good to see him get a couple goals tonight and make some plays and gain some confidence because we’re going to need him going forward here.”
The Jets, who had their winless skid extended to five games (0-3-2), were playing at Canada Life Centre for the first time since Dec. 19. They had eight straight road games after that related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only a maximum of 250 fans were allowed Tuesday under health orders that expire Feb. 1. Canned crowd noise was played during the game to add to the sparse crowd seated on one side of the rink.
Marchment’s linemate, Anton Lundell, had a goal and assist. Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett also scored for the Panthers (29-9-5). Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad each collected a pair of helpers.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves for Florida, which ended a five-game road trip going 3-2-0 and are 8-6-5 overall away from home this season.
Paul Stastny, Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for the Jets (17-15-7). Cole Perfetti contributed the first two assists of his NHL career.
Connor Hellebuyck, playing in his 12th straight start, made 27 stops for the Jets, who host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
“Just inconsistent play,” Stastny said. “I think it’s, like, there’s parts that are good, parts that are bad, and then it just seems like we shoot ourselves in the foot and get away from the game a little bit.
“Almost that we’re just trying to play for offence too much, and then leave our D-men on an island or our goaltender on an island.”
Winnipeg learned just before the game that top-pairing defenceman Josh Morrissey was placed in COVID protocols after testing positive earlier in the day. He joined forward Dominic Toninato and assistant coach Charlie Huddy.
Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry said Morrissey’s absence led to some mistakes.
“You’re putting some guys in positions where they haven’t seen anything like this,” Lowry said. “Florida’s a team where they like that wide-open game.
“They like to open it up, they’ve got some finishers and they score a lot of goals.”
Florida led 3-2 after the first period with Marchment stealing the show.
The 26-year-old son of former NHL player and Jets defenceman Bryan Marchment gave the visitors a lead at 2:09 when he deflected in a shot by Lundell for his third goal of the season.
Stastny tied it up six minutes later off a rebound, but Marchment regain the lead at 12:06.
“You’ve got to come in hot and we did, so it was a good start for the boys,” Marchment said.
Connor made it 2-2 just 51 seconds later with a close backhand that went by Bobrovsky for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Panthers broke the tie at 17:33 when Marchment’s shot went off Lundell into the net.
The Jets tied it up on the power play 3:30 into the second after Perfetti went around a fallen Panther at the side of the crease and passed the puck quickly to Dubois out in front.
“I definitely think the more you play, the more you get comfortable, the more confidence you get,” said Perfetti, who also has one goal in nine games.
After coming up empty on their own power play a few minutes later, the Panthers went ahead 4-3 with Verhaeghe’s goal off a rebound at 9:42.
Marchment also drew a penalty when the native of Uxbridge, Ont., cross-checked Nate Schmidt. But Bobrovsky turned away two close-in Winnipeg shots to keep the lead.
Bennett made it 5-3 at 12:10 of the third off a rebound from Duclair’s shot.
Florida hosts the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.