The Winnipeg Jets scored twice on 5-on-3 penalties and added a late empty net, shorthanded goal despite being down two skaters as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. In all, the Jets had six power plays as the Lightning struggled to stay out of the penalty box. Despite having an advantage at even strength, the Bolts weren’t able to turn their chances into goals. Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov had the lone goals for the Lightning.
With Victor Hedman heading home to Tampa a day early due to the impending birth of his second child and Zach Bogosian out of the line-up, the line-up was getting scattered before the puck even dropped. Haydn Fleury and Cal Foote started their second consecutive game while Mikhail Sergachev and Nick Perbix were tasked with the top-pairing minutes. Andrei Vasilevskiy returned from his illness to stop 16 of 19 shots.
With the roster churn and an out-of-conference game, getting geared up for this one could be tough for the Lightning. However, both teams came out hot, rolling line after line as there were no whistles for the first nine-and-a-half minutes.
For much of the period it was the Lightning dictating the pace of play as they made a determined effort to carry the puck into the Winnipeg zone and set up their cycle game. While it took a little while to get things flowing, by the midpoint of the period they were zooming into the zone in waves and starting to pile up shot attempts.
For the most part the Jets were solid in their zone and the Lightning chances kept getting foiled. Eventually a breakdown in the home team’s coverage following a face-off win by the Lightning led to the first goal. Steven Stamkos is able to wheel through the middle of the ice and get a clean shot off on Connor Hellebuyck. It appears that the Jets’ defenders were a little too concerned with the Lightning captain and forgot about Anthony Cirelli. The rebound came out to Tony and he calmly swept it home.
Anthony Cirelli (Steven Stamkos) 1-0 Lightning
The Jets were determined to dump the puck into the Lightning zone and try to get their forecheck going. The Bolts were solid in getting to the puck first and while their breakouts weren’t always clean, they didn’t allow Winnipeg too many looks at the puck in their zone as they were limited to just 4 shots on net in the period.
As the period dwindled down a post-whistle scrum led to Anthony Cirelli and Neal Pionk being sent to the box. With a little more room on the ice Winnipeg was able to build some zone time. Kyle Connor had some extra time at the top of the circle and was able to snap a shot off on Vasilevskiy’s short side. Pierre-Luc Dubois appeared to tip it for the game-tying goal.
Pierre-Luc Dubois (Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey) 1-1
A deflating end to what had been a really solid period for the Lightning. After a sluggish start in Chicago and a sluggish entire game in Minnesota they came out skating well and out-chanced the Jets 11-4 at even strength over the first 20 minutes.
This veteran Lightning team isn’t going to go into the locker room tweaking themselves up about allowing a late goal. They’re going to acknowledge their faults and go out and do what they need to in order to get back in the game. That usually involves Nikita Kucherov. Skating in his 600th game, the newest all-star took a nice feed from Ian Cole off of the rush and wristed a shot through the crowd. It’s doubtful that Hellebuyck saw much of the puck as it went by him.
Nikita Kucherov (Ian Cole, Anthony Cirelli) 2-1 Lightning
On this road trip, penalties have been a bit of a thorn in the side of the Lightning and through the first two periods the story stayed the same. Cal Foote was in the box for holding (he kind of had to to prevent a golden opportunity) when Nick Paul joined him after a high-stick. With a two-player advantage, the Jets finally managed to get some shots on Vasilevskiy and it paid off.
Pierre-Luc Dubois (Josh Morrissey, Mark Schefiele)
Like a teenager at the Popeye’s fryer, Vasy was busy chicken flipping multiple shots heading his way. Unfortunately, the puck had a liking for Winnipeg sticks and they were able to get to the rebounds and keep the pressure on the defense. Josh Morrissey ended up with a clean look from the slot. Dubois has his stick in the right place again and he tipped the shot past Vasilevskiy to tie the game.
There would be no more scoring for the period, but the Lightning did get a few more chances. They also had a power play that saw Brandon Hagel feed a pass across the crease to a crashing Stamkos, but the puck was in his skates and The Captain couldn’t get a shot off.
As the seconds ticked away the Lightning almost snuck one past Hellebuyck. Well, they actually did, but Dubois was gliding through the crease and was able to glove it out of danger’s way.
Scoring goals at one end and MAKING SAVES at the other pic.twitter.com/sEriQJdtYq— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 7, 2023
While there weren’t as many scoring chances at even strength (thanks to the 7 minutes of power play time between the two teams) the Lightning still had the edge as they doubled up the Jets, 6-3 in the middle frame.
Stay out of the box, keep pressing their advantage at even strength and the Lightning could pull out another victory after heading into the third period tied. They had been 9-3 in such situations so far this season (although only 4-3 on the road). They failed to stick to that game plan and it cost them.
For the second time on the evening, the Jets had a lengthy 5-on-3 power play as Steven Stasmkos and Vlad Namestnikov took seats next to each other in the penalty box in rapid succession. Things were really getting spun out on the ice once Mikhail Sergachev broke his stick. He took Cirelli’s twig, and despite being stickless, the forward was still able to block two shots. Unfortunately, he was defenseless against a cross-ice pass that Kyle Connor ripped past Vasilevskiy.
Kyle Connor (Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrisey) Power Play 3-2 Jets
Tampa Bay started to push back but their forays into the zone kept getting foiled by the second-ranked defense in the league.
Tempers had been getting fried all night long with a couple of post-stoppage brawls, but it wasn’t until Scheifele landed a big hit on Fleury that fists actually flew. Cirelli took exception to the hit and tangled with Scheifele, with both heading to the box.
With under two minutes to go, the Lightning did draw a penalty and Coach Cooper rolled the dice by pulling Vasilevskiy to set up the 6-on-4. It didn’t pay off as the Lightning lost possession near the top of the zone and Morgan Barron was able to outrace Point and Sergachev to the loose puck. He then tucked it into the empty net on a wraparound to seal the 4-2 victory.