The Winnipeg Jets beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in overtime at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night, snapping the Lightning's season-long winning streak at five games.
As will be the case in most of the games remaining on the Lightning's schedule, since they're going head-to-head against so many of the teams they're chasing, this was another four-point game. The Lightning had a chance to pull within two points of their closest division rival (in the standings, if not geographically) but ended the night five behind instead.
"It's obviously disappointing, but we still got up another point and we gotta move forward...We gained another point on Washington, if you want to look at it that way. Six behind and we still gotta play them three times.But I don't want to look at it that way...it's disappointing but not frustrating" - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher
The action was what you'd expect from two teams facing nearly identical circumstances in terms of getting back into contention in the Eastern Conference and possibly even chasing down the lead in the Southeast Division; back-and-forth, tight checking, very few penalties, clutch goaltending from the Lightning's Mathieu Garon and Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec and a sense from the onset that scoring chances might be few and far between.
"We had tons of quality, quality scoring chances and we didn't bury them. But we did what we need to do; it just didn't go in. That's what's tough to take. Equal game. Obviously, it could go either way but I feel we did enough to win this game." - Boucher
The first period ended in a scoreless tie and the second was almost a carbon copy. But after just missing a chance to cash in on a wide-open net, the Lightning got caught on a line change and surrendered the always dreaded late-period goal when Blake Wheeler scored on assists from Jim Slater and Andrew Ladd with :16 remaining. Victor Hedman finally solved Pavelec, taking the puck all the way from the Tampa Bay blue line deep into the Winnipeg zone before snapping off a wrist shot at 10:34. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos chipped in with assists.
The third period was another tightly contested, scoreless affair and the teams headed to overtime tied at one.
Kyle Wellwood ended it at the 3:14 mark of the extra period, scoring on assists from Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien.
"It's a big point for us. We wanted to get two points tonight. We battled hard; we deserved better tonight, but at the end they played a good game and they beat us." - Garon
The Lightning's next game is another opportunity to gain ground within the division as they face the current leaders, the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the third in a four-game homestand.
- Tonight was the first scoreless opening period in a Lightning game since December 5th at Ottawa.
- This was the longest scoreless start to a Lightning game this season. Previously, Vincent Lecavalier scored the only goal of the game at 19:20 of the second period on October 29th, also against Winnipeg.
- Wheeler’s goal broke the Jets (formerly Thrashers) streak of 103:22 without scoring a goal in the Tampa Bay (formerly St. Pete) Times Forum, dating back to January 23, 2011, when Rich Peverly scored the only Atlanta goal in a 7-1 Bolts win.
- The Lightning honored Sophia Nell Baldor as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period. Baldor, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will divide the money among her charities of choice, Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. Upon graduating from junior high school, Baldor was hospitalized and considered to be in critical condition due to her loss of 40 pounds from anorexia nervosa in just a short period of time. Struggling with social issues and betrayal, as well as feeling helpless in developing social relationships, she focused inward and began to spiral into self-destruction until hospitalization proved to be the only solution. Upon making a major life-changing choice during her time in the hospital, she recovered in a grueling 10-week program in Oklahoma just in time to begin the ninth grade. After being silent about her middle school struggle, Sophia volunteered to speak on a teen panel of Frameworks ambassadors, realizing that part of her healing was to help others overcome the same struggles that were previously her own. Since then, Baldor has immersed herself in community service. She actively volunteers as a speaker for the National Eating Disorder Association, plans awareness and fundraising for Frameworks, where she teaches social and emotional skills to middle schoolers, and also serves as an advocate on behalf of The Spring to raise awareness of sexual abuse. She is grateful for every day and makes each one count.