Patrik Laine takes back rookie goal scoring lead as Jets topple Panthers

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Quite a game for the young players on the Winnipeg Jets, and once again Patrik Laine was a central character.

The Jets defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Wednesday. Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Laine all scored, as Winnipeg moved to within a point of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Laine is now up to 21 goals on the season. Taken second overall in last year’s draft, he’s still just 18 years old and doesn’t celebrate his birthday until April.

He also surpassed Auston Matthews, taken No. 1 overall, for the rookie goal scoring lead, and what a back-and-forth battle that is shaping up to be in the second half of the season. It should be one of the most compelling storylines, outside of the playoff race, which both Laine and Matthews could also be a part of, over the next few weeks and months.

In a league where scoring is difficult and getting to the 50-goal plateau is a rare accomplishment unless you’re Alex Ovechkin, a pair of teenagers could very well reach the 40-goal mark by the time their respective freshman campaigns are done.

The Panthers loss overshadowed the fact that the ageless Jaromar Jagr, who assisted on Greg McKegg’s goal in the second period, moved into sole possession of fifth all-time in assists with 1,136 helpers.

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