The home team Winnipeg Jets jumped out to the better start in the game. The puck was mostly in the Lightning defensive zone and they couldn’t get their first shot attempt on the Jets’ net till the fourth minute of the game. Yet the first real dangerous moment came from Tampa Bay after Tyler Johnson rushed into the Jets defensive zone following a turnover on a blue line.
A couple of minutes later Johnson found Ondrej Palat with a pass who drove to the net and left the puck for Anthony Cirelli. The young center put it in the back of the net for his first goal of the game. Three minutes later Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov ran away on a 2-on-1 breakaway and Kucherov finished the sequence. Before the end of period another good passing sequence between Cirelli and Palat led to the second goal of the game by Anthony Cirelli.
The second period started with the Lightning on a penalty kill. Jack Roslovic came close to shortening the scoring gap, but his shot was denied by a nifty save by Andrei Vasilevskiy. Instead of making the game more competitive the hosts allowed another brilliant opportunity by the Lightning top line, which started with a 2-on-1 breakaway by Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point.
Stamkos couldn’t get the puck into the net, but won the battle for the puck along the boards as he shouldered Luca Sbisa to the ice and returned the puck to Brayden Point who made a pass on a empty net for Nikita Kucherov. It was fourth goal in two games for the Russian forward.
The Jets didn’t look great overall this evening, allowing a lot of turnovers and giveaways. Knowing it, the Lightning kept pressuring them in their zone and it caused another turnover which led to a goal by Carter Verhaeghe.
Following the Verhaeghe goal Winnipeg made a goaltender change, Connor Hellebuyck left the game after allowing 5 goals on 12 shots and Laurent Brossoit took his place in the net. The Jets answered a moment later when Roslovic was left in front of the Lightning net following a defensive zone turnover by the Lightning. He put the puck past an outstretched Vasilevskiy to make the score 5-1.
Things weren’t all positive for the Lightning. In the middle of the period the Bolts lost Cedric Paquette who had to leave the game after blocking a shot.
The game was basically decided during the first two periods and the Jets stopped pushing in the third period. Winnipeg scored a goal after a Nikolaj Ehlers shot, but it was waived off due to clear goalie interference by Nick Shore. Anthony Cirelli scored his first career hat trick after a centering pass shot actually went off Dmitry Kulikov’s stick. Alex Killorn made it 7-1, scoring his 20th goal of the season and reaching career high in goals after just 46 games of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are going into the bye-week with a big win against uneasy opponent. The next game is in 10 days in Dallas.
Shockingly in a game where all eight goals were scored at even strength the Winnipeg Jets had slightly better numbers in terms of expected goals and shot attempts percentage, but the Lightning finishing talent helped them to win the game. The goaltending was also a weak spot for the Jets this evening.
Despite playing the second game in two days, the Lightning looked like a better team. The Jets struggled with controlling the puck the whole game and the Lightning capitalized on that. The Lightning power play remains a little bit shaky since the start of the year, but on the other side, the Lightning penalty kill look great. Over the same span, they are above 90%.
Anthony Cirelli had another great game and registered his first hat-trick in the NHL. He dominated the whole game in both ends. Ondrej Palat should also be mentioned, he assisted on each Cirelli goal.
Anthony Cirelli (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson)
Nikta Kucherov (Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point)
Anthony Cirelli (Ondrej Palat)
Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos)
Carter Verhaeghe (Ryan McDonagh)
Jack Roslovic (Mathieu Perreault)
Anthony Cirelli (Ondrej Palat)
Alex Killorn (Mitchell Stephens, Mikhail Sergachev)