It was the Mathieu Perreault Show on Tuesday night as the Winnipeg Jets routed the Florida Panthers, 8-2, in front of a sold-out crowd at the MTS Centre.
Perreault finished the night with an incredible four-goal performance, a feat that had yet to be accomplished by any Jet since the relocation from Atlanta in 2011.
“Obviously, bounces were going my way,” said Perreault after the game. “It was one of those nights but obviously a lot of fun.”
Perreault opened the scoring for the Jets just 7:24 in to the first period before doubling the lead to 2-0 just four minutes later on the power play.
He would eventually complete the hat trick, scoring his third goal late in the second period by tipping a Tobias Enstrom shot from the blue line that beat Panthers’ goalie and former Winnipeg Jet Al Montoya.
The crowd then hurled their hats on to the ice, honouring a long-time tradition for when a player scores three goals in a single game. Dozens of hats covered the ice as the game was temporarily paused in order to clean up.
“That was awesome,” said Perreault of the celebration. “I had chills sitting on the bench. I almost couldn’t believe it.”
His fourth goal would come just over a minute later after a Michael Frolik rebound popped out in front of the net for an easy tap in to give the Jets a commanding 6-1 lead.
Perreault is the first NHL player to score four goals in a single game since Ilya Kovalchuk did so back on Nov. 11, 2005 as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.
“Good for him. He’s earned it,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “You compete that hard, you know that a player with that kind of skill is going to break through.”