The Winnipeg Jets leave Tampa Bay bleeding and beaten, as the Lightning struck early and often in their 12th win in 13 outings.
The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely came across as the better team in the first period, putting up 14 shots to the Jets’ five. One of those shots opened the scoring just 1:34 into the contest when Ondrej Palat sent Yanni Gourde in alone on Connor Hellebuyck, and Gourde slotted in a wrister.
Blake Wheeler would respond for the Jets on the power play, as was responsible for scoring the last five Winnipeg goals at that point. Wheeler tapped in a backhand pass from Patrik Laine after a high speed rush, and things stayed square at 1-1 until the end of the period.
Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning showed that their power play can be dangerous in more ways than one.
Before that demonstration could occur, a busted play in the Tampa end resulted in an odd man rush for the Lightning, with Adam Erne scoring on a one-timer to make it 2-1.
With Andrew Copp in the box for holding, Connor Hellebuyck was left bleeding after a Nikita Kucherov nearly brained the Jets netminder. In need of medical attention, Hellebuyck retreated to the Jets dressing room, pressing Laurent Brossoit into action.
Brossoit was a bit unfortunate, as anything short of a brick wall would not have stopped the Steven Stamkos blast that made it 3-1, as that dangerous power play made itself felt. Hellebuyck returned to the game shortly thereafter. The second period finished at 3-1.
The Lightning expanded their lead early in the third, when a strong forecheck by Mathieu Joseph and some weak Winnipeg backchecking saw the puck poked out to Cedric Paquette, who flung one past the glove of Hellebuyck.
Anybody who says that Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice has never seen the Tampa Bay power play. A big glove save by Hellebuyck only delayed the Lightning for a few moments, as Brayden Point scores his NHL leading 19th power play goal of the year, and the lead was 5-1. Kucherov picked up his 108th point of the year, tying Tampa’s franchise mark set by Vincent Lecavalier in 2007.
The Jets pulled one back on the power play, as a Deron Quint-like deflection off the glass caught Andrei Vasilevsky our for a skate and went in, making it 5-2 and all she wrote.
The teams scored two a piece on the power play, with Winnipeg going 2-for-3 and Tampa going 2-for-4. The Lightning outshot the Jets 38-32.
- Holy crap, Tampa is good. Power play, goal scoring, goaltending. Yikes.
- Bryan Little never gave up on this one, even when his team was down four.
- I liked the way Kyle Connor played at both ends of the ice in the second.
- The Lightning forecheck is terrific. Other teams should study it. It’s come a long way.
- Apart from the Paquette goal, Hellebuyck had a good outing despite the numbers (32 saves on 36 chances is a .889 save percentage).
- I prefer the baseball way of deciding who wins a game, in that if you start the game, throw five innings and leave in a losing position and it stays that way, no matter the change in score, the loss is yours. Laurent Brossoit came into a game the Jets were losing, allowed a goal, the Jets never tied it, but because that goal became the game winning goal, he also gets the loss. He also had a handy .500 save percentage and a 18.37 GAA.
- Cedric Paquette would be a good instigator if he knew how to play clean. But he doesn’t. He also played dumb, and earned himself a two-minute unsportsmanlike penalty and everybody in the building heard it.
- Sloppy defending at five-on-five cost the Jets numerous times. Game score is 3-0 for Tampa at five-on-five tonight.