The MTS Centre may not have been rocking in the same way that fans grew accustomed to last season, but the Winnipeg Jets were thankful that the boo-birds stayed away on Sunday. Some good bounces and solid goaltending by Ondrej Pavelec resulted in victory for the Jets as they maintained their lead in the Southeast Division.
Tobias Enstrom returned to the ice on Sunday evening, and with the injuries to Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart, the Jets’ lineup is chock full of defensemen that like to get involved offensively. Grant Clitsome is the only blue liner who does not look to jump into plays on a regular basis, so it should come as no surprise that two of the three goals scored by Winnipeg came from defensemen.
Winnipeg opened the scoring in the first period on a sloppy play that started with a shot by Dustin Byfuglien. Eventually Blake Wheeler attempted to send a pass to Bryan Little that didn’t get through cleanly, but the puck took a fortuitous hop that put Lightning goalie Cedric Desjardins out of position and Little was able to pop in his fifth goal of the season.
The Jets were happy to be up 1-0 after the first period, but they had some good fortune to be in that position. They were outshot and outchanced, but the combination of the Lightning missing the net and Ondrej Pavelec making some tough saves put Winnipeg in the lead.
While the first period was relatively stoppage free with no penalties, the second saw both teams playing less disciplined hockey as they accumulated three penalties each.
Alexander Burmistrov drew the first penalty of the period, and it did not take long for the Jets to strike. Dustin Byfuglien took a half-slapper from near the faceoff dot that beat Desjardins to the glove side.
Tampa Bay struck back with a quick power play goal of their own. Martin St. Louis got the puck at the right point and sent a cross-ice pass to Steven Stamkos who took a very Stamkos-y shot that beat Pavelec.
Later in the second, St. Louis partially negated a Zach Bogosian high sticking penalty by getting a stick up himself. On the four-on-four, Andrew Ladd sent a pass from the corner to a pinching Tobias Enstrom who was all alone in front of the net. Enstrom went top shelf to make his return to the ice a sweet one.
The third period saw the game's second four-on-four situation. The Lightning cut the lead to one when Eric Brewer took a soft wrister from the point that Cory Conacher deflected by Pavelec. I blame the Jets twitter personnel for that one, as they had earlier in the evening pointed out that the Jets were outscoring opponents 6-0 during four-on-four situations this season.
Tampa Bay tried to put the pressure on down the stretch, but the Jets and Pavelec held strong in maintaining their 3-2 lead. With the win, Winnipeg moved four points up on the Carolina Hurricanes in the Southeast -- it should be noted that the Hurricanes have three games in hand. Those two teams meet in Raliegh on Tuesday in another important divisional matchup.
- It is not often that you see Stamkos blow two good scoring chances the way he did in the first period. That was a good omen for the Jets.
- Olli Jokinen’s one handed feed from the end boards to Kane in front of the net was a beauty. Too bad Kane could not finish the play.
- Desjardins’ stats may not be great this season, but do not tell that to Andrew Ladd. He was robbed twice in the game.
- Pavs big save on Conacher after three penalty killing Jets got caught trying to go on a rush was clutch. The typical rule is to send one person in on the PK, when being aggressive send two, not sure there are any circumstances where you can justify having three guys flying up ice on the PK.
- Kane had a sweet pass of his own in the third to Antti Miettinen that ended in a nice save by Desjardins.
- I was not specifically focussed on the pair of Derek Meech and Paul Postma, but when I did notice them they were playing well.
- Blake Wheeler probably earned the goaltender interference penalty in the third, but Desjardins looked to embellish the contact pretty substantially. His need to see the trainer makes it possible that it was worse than it looked, or he was really committing to the role.
- It’s nice to see the saga of Alexander Burmistrov progress, as he moved to the second line midway through the game.
- Wellwood, Tangradi and Antropov generated some good chances in the third period. Hopefully Tangradi can make the most of his chance to play above the fourth line.