The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off their post-All-Star season with a complete and utter loss to the second-best home team in the NHL (18-3-1); the Winnipeg Jets. Matthew Peca scored the only goal for the Lightning and backup goalie Louis Domingue stood as tall as he could in a game where his team got out-shot 24-37. Other than that, the rest of the team was very meh for the majority of the game. According to Head Coach Jon Cooper, “we weren’t on it... A couple missed battles and that was it.”
The Lightning power play went 0-4 and did not look like their dominant selves during any of it while the Jets used their power play to tie the game and kick off the momentum swing that eventually led them to victory.
So let’s get into it.
Almost right off the bat, Yanni Gourde draws a high-sticking penalty against Dustin Byfuglien after getting tangled in the corner on a forecheck. My respect for 5’9” 172lbs Yanni Gourde, who went fearlessly at 6’5” 260lbs Big Buff, is so high, and continues to grow.
The second line of the Lightning get right back to what they’re good at: scoring chances. The intrepid Gourde has been buzzing all around the crease, looking for rebounds. And as a result, continues to draw the ire of the Jets defensemen.
Later, Mikhail Sergachev — who is back in the lineup — is standing behind Louis Domingue’s net and (after a neat redirection from Gourde) sends a bullet to a streaking Brayden Point at the opposing blueline. With no defenders in front of him, Point nearly gets his backhand shot over Michael Hutchinson’s pad, but the puck did not stay still, resulting with the puck sailing wide.
It was with about three minutes to go in the period when I first heard Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman’s name be mentioned. It was something I definitely noticed which means it’s meant to go in the recap, right?
Matthew Peca scores his first goal of the season after sneaking in front of the net undetected and finishing off a heads up pass from Brayden at the Point. Jake Dotchin notched the secondary assist after a clean, controlled zone entry. Not only was this the second goal of Peca’s career, but it was his second against the Winnipeg Jets!
I would confidently say that the Jets are as even of an opponent as the Lightning will see this season. They have oodles of young skilled forwards, a defense core with a couple vets, a couple players I’ve never heard of before, and top prospects to top it all off. As a result, both teams (who are at the top of their respective divisions) measured up pretty evenly in the game metrics.
The Lightning won the shot attempt battle in the first (22-21), but the shots were in favor of the Jets (9-10) as well as the scoring chances (8-14).
But we have the lead where it counts so hah!
.@TBLightning forward Matthew Peca shares the Bolts approach during the 1st period and how he handles right-handed goalies, after he scores the first goal of the game vs. Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night. #NHL #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/G3UwxI5MJ7— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 31, 2018
Almost immediately after Braydon Coburn takes a tripping penalty, Chris Kunitz shoots the puck over the glass. The second penalty results in 1:48 long 5-on-3 power play for the Jets.
Andrew Copp takes a tripping penalty after dropping Nikita Kucherov at the blueline. On the power play, Chris Tanev and Vladislav Namestnikov get tangled in front of the net and somehow Vladdy gets called for interference. Odd call.
Namestnikov gets interfered with by Tanev, but Namestnikov is the one that goes off for interference. That is not a good call. Namestnikov had his spot and Tanev moved into him, not the other way around. Bad call by the referees put both teams 4-on-4 for a little over a minute.— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) January 31, 2018
Fast forward to a big (buff) bone-crushing hit, Vladdy is just getting out of the box, and the Jets look very dangerous in the Lightning zone. Tyler Myers throws the puck to Wheeler just before Namestnikov can get his stick on him from behind. The former Bruin throws the puck towards Kyle Connor in the slot and the second-year winger bangs the puck home. Wheeler records his second primary assist of the night.
The Lightning tried to mount a bit of a comeback after falling behind midway through the game but the Jets simply out-possessed the puck the entire time. The shot-attempt ratio is now in the Jets’ favor (32-41), Winnipeg has also grown their shots lead by nine (15-25), and are still leading in scoring chances (15-19).
.@TBLightning forward Alex Killorn says the Bolts need to work harder in the next period and keep up the turnovers as they move on to the 3rd period vs. the Winnipeg Jets. #NHL #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/a3Cv0t544y— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 31, 2018
As the puck drops for another period, Tyler Johnson jumps out of the gate, runs into the offensive zone, and draws a tripping penalty against Big Buff. Good nine-second shift right there.
The Lightning power play has not been very effective today. They’ve struggled to create mistakes out of their opponents, especially when it comes to creating open lanes to get shots from Hedman, Stamkos, and Kucherov’s spots. It was also a little embarrassing to see Steven Stamkos get rocked with a hit by Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry during a one-on-one battle...that Stamkos was winning initially...in the Lightning zone...on the power play.
The Winnipeg Jets are big, fast, skilled, and they're coached very well.— Wise Content Lad (@HardevLad) January 31, 2018
Keep your eyes out for them in the playoffs. They're for real.
With nine minutes left in a 2-1 game, let’s look at some numbers. Despite the Winnipeg Jets clogging up the neutral zone all period and keeping the play as much to the edges as possible, the Lightning have score effects’d themselves back to within one attempt of the Jets’ 45 shot attempts.
Aaaaand all of that abruptly comes to an end as Louis Domingue takes a delay of game penalty after shooting the puck over the glass. Yes, the goalie shot the puck over the glass. For an otherwise solid night for the Quebecois netminder, this was not a good moment.
During the man-disadvantage, Hedman loses his stick. Chaos ensues. A solid 20 seconds pass with the top pivot without his weapon until Ryan Callahan finally is able to reach back and hand him his. You could tell how vocal the players were being because Callahan was barking orders along with his hands while simultaneously trying to catch saucer passes through the crease. This probably makes me a bad person but if you take out the fear of giving up a third goal, it was quite entertaining.
Bryan Little inevitably does put the Jets up 3-1 after beating Gourde to a rebound in front of the net. Mathieu Perreault took the initial shot and gets the primary assist. Nikolaj Ehlers gets the secondary assist for whatever he did, I don’t care enough to go back and find what what the play was. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ [Editor’s note - he stole the puck from Braydon Coburn in the corner..JG] [Thanks, Justin..HL]
Tobias Enstrom takes a hooking penalty after getting his stick stuck in Kucherov’s ribs while trying to defend the blueline. With four and a half minutes to go in the game, the Lightning need a goal here.
Two minutes later
Hutchinson stops Stamkos on the one-timer, the post stops Alex Killorn, and the Lightning are still down two goals.
One minute later
The Bolts pull Domingue for the extra man and get stuck at the offensive zone half-wall for a solid 30 seconds. The seconds tick down and Johnson does end up getting a quality scoring chance, but Hutchinson comes up huge with his right-handed glove.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were outplayed. Plain and simple. The Jets out-shot, out-chanced, and out-possessed the boys in blue all night and those qualities proved to be the difference in this game.
Louis Domingue did not have a bad game. All you can ask out of your goaltender on any night is to simply keep you in the game and Domingue did that. He stopped 34 of 37 shots, good for a .919 save percentage. The problem tonight was that the team allowed 37 shots to reach their goalie, and a Full 60 attempts in the same direction.
I thought Victor Hedman was effective in his first game back. Not his usual spectacular self that we’re used to see but as good as you could hope for a player coming off a 19-day break. Funnily enough, his defense pairing (with Jake Dotchin) was the only pair to out-posses their opponents at 5v5.
The top line of Namestnikov-Stamkos-Kucherov was simply bad tonight. They received 7 offensive-zone starts and only 2 in the defensive zone. With that lopsided amount of easy ice, they were able to put up an utterly shameful shot share (Stamkos and Kucherov were out-shot 7-1 while they were together on the ice at 5v5). I’m no expert but that’s kind of bad.
On a positive note, Matthew Peca had a banger of a game. He stayed relatively even in terms of shots for and against, he showed off some silky smooth hands when he scored the teams’ only goal, and had a few really good chances throughout the game. I wonder of Peca has taken Cory Conacher’s spot and become the third-line center for the Lightning full-time.
“Right now, [Peca and Bournival] are are playing desperate. They’re playing more desperate than a few of the other players on the team.” said Cooper after the game. “They’re keeping it simple, they’re doing what we ask of them and they’re getting rewarded for it.”
We’ll see you in February (time’s really flying, eh) when the Lightning travel to Calgary to play the Flames on Thursday night. Mark the 9:00pm start if you live on the East Coast (but not the East coast of Canada, apparently they have a different time zone than us).