Friends Barkov and Laine face off in Finland

Winnipeg Jets (7-4-1) vs. Florida Panthers (2-4-3)

Thursday, 1 p.m. at Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland

Game 1 of NHL Global Series

❯❯ About the PANTHERS

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Winnipeg Jets (7-4-1) vs. Florida Panthers (2-4-3)

Thursday, 1 p.m. at Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland

Game 1 of NHL Global Series

❯❯ About the PANTHERS

The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets square off in the opening game of a back-to-back series in Helsinki, which starts at 1 p.m. in Winnipeg. The second game is set for Friday night. The Panthers are off to a sputtering start, still in search of their first victory in regulation time. Of their two victories, one came by way of a shootout over the Washington Capital and the other was generated in overtime against the New York Islanders. Like the Jets, Florida’s most recent contest was Saturday night when the squad fell 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils.

It’s a homecoming for Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers captain, who hails from Tampere, about 180 kilometres north of Helsinki. The 23-year-old centre is a close friend of the Jets’ Patrk Laine, and the two have been chumming around during their time away from the rink. Florida’s first-round pick (second overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft enjoyed a career year in 2017-18 (27G, 51A) to lead the team in scoring. He has a pair of goals and six helpers in nine games this year.

RW Evgenii Dadonov continues to be a great story for the Panthers. At 29, he’s having a super start to season with four goals and six assists to hold the team scoring lead. The Russian was drafted in the third round (71st overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft and played just 55 games over parts of three seasons (2009-12), supplying 10 goals and 10 assists. He returned home and posted five impressive offensive years in the KHL before rejoining Florida last season and potting 28 goals.

D Aaron Ekblad, the 2015 Calder Trophy winner as the NHL’s top rookie, has recorded just a pair of assists this season, although the Panthers have played just nine games, tied with the Devils for fewest in the league. D Keith Yandle, meanwhile, has one goal and eight assists.

The Panthers have three goalies in Finland, but Roberto Luongo remains on the injury reserve list with a knee injury. That means the starting assignments against Winnipeg will go to masked men with strong Manitoba ties who have yet to find their grooves this year. James Reimer from tiny Morweena, in his ninth NHL season, has made five starts (1-3-1), posting a 3.41 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. Former Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson has made four appearances (1-1-2) and has a 4.18 GAA and .839 S%.

Florida Panthers

34 James Reimer G

39 Michael Hutchinson G

3 Keith Yandle D

5 Aaron Ekblad D (A)

6 Alexander Petrovic D 

7 Colton Sceviour C

11 Jonathan Huberdeau C (A)

13 Mike Pysyk D

16 Aleksander Barkov C (C)

19 Mike Matheson D

21 Vincent Trocheck C

22 Troy Brouwer RW

27 Nick Bjugstad C

52 MacKenzie Weegar D

55 Bogdan Kiselevich D

62 Denis Malgin C

63 Evgenii Dadonov RW

68 Mike Hoffman C

72 Frank Vatrano C

78 Maxim Mamin C

90 Jared McCann C

91 Juho Lammikko LW

Head coach: Bob Boughner

Winnipeg Jets

30 Laurent Brossoit G

37 Connor Hellebuyck G

3 Tucker Poolman D

5 Dmitry Kulikov D

7 Ben Chiarot D

8 Jacob Trouba D

9 Andrew Copp C

13 Brandon Tanev LW

17 Adam Lowry C

18 Bryan Little C

19 Nic Petan C

26 Blake Wheeler RW (C)

27 Nikolaj Ehlers LW

28 Jack Roslovic C

29 Patrik Laine RW

33 Dustin Byfuglien D (A)

44 Josh Morrissey D

48 Brendan Lemieux LW

55 Mark Scheifele C (A)

57 Tyler Myers D

70 Joe Morrow D

81 Kyle Connor LW

85 Mathieu Perreault C

Head coach: Paul Maurice

— Jason Bell