Game 7: Tampa Bay Lightning versus Winnipeg Jets

The Lightning cash in on Winnipeg penalties to take an early and commanding lead in winning their fifth straight game by a score of 8-3 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat division rival the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 8 to 3 in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday night, their fifth consecutive win.

For a team that cited a lack of discipline as the main reason for a 6-3 loss against the Florida Panthers the night before, it didn't look like the Winnipeg Jets slept on the idea of doing much to improve it. Six penalties in the first period allowed the Lightning to bury them early and deep. The biggest problem the Lightning faced? How to manage the second half of a game that was settled in the first half.

"I'll be honest, this is a weird game to coach. If we didn't have a game tomorrow, we would have played differently. I would have coached differently. We would have continued to push the pace. We were just trying to get through the period without injuries and just wanted to finish the game." " - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

In spite of the outcome, the start was less than stellar for Tampa Bay. Drawing their first and only penalty of the first period at the 2:42 mark (Adam Hall, for interference), the Lightning didn't register a shot on goal until the 7:57 mark. They made it count, though, cashing in on their first power play opportunity, with Cory Conacher scoring on assists from Matt Carle and Benoit Pouliot.

What followed was a steady stream of Jets going in and out of of the penalty box, with Winnipeg racking up 23 penalty minutes on six infractions.

The Bolts tallied their second goal at 14:11 during a five-on-three when Stamkos scored on assists from Teddy Purcell and goaltender Anders Lindback.

At 16:55 with another five-on-three advantage, Vincent Lecavalier scored on helpers from Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, giving the Lightning a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission.

At 0:26, just after another power play had expired, Conacher scored his second goal of the night (fifth of the season) from Eric Brewer and Lecavalier.

Nate Thompson scored his first goal of the year at 4:43, thanks to B.J. Crombeen and Brewer. This ended Winnipeg starting netminder Ondrej Pavelec's night, having allowed five goals on 14 shots. he was replaced by Al Montoya.

A minute later, at 5:43, Montoya saw his first shot and allowed his first goal of the night when Purcell scored on an assist from Stamkos, giving the Bolts a 6-0 lead after two.

At 5:34 of the third, the Jets finally got something past Lindback with Tobias Enstrom scoring on assists from Paul Postma and Andrew Ladd.

A minute later, Postma scored on a power play with help from Bryan Little and Enstrom.

Lightning fans who might have snuck a couple of nervous glimpses at the clock breathed a little easier when Ryan Malone scored at 8:46, feeding off assists from Lecavalier and Conacher.

Still, the Winnipeg power play clicked again at at 9:49 when Ladd scored thanks to Postma and Enstrom.

The Lightning's Benoit Pouliot ended the scoring at 18:35, with assists from Tom Pyatt and Victor Hedman.

"Another good game for the team. It was unfortunate that we gave those three goals up because Lindback kept us in it for the first part of the game." - Conacher

"You just try to ride the wave. You know it probably can't last forever, but whether it's an individual streak or a team streak, you just try to ride the confidence that each individual brings game in and game out when you're on a run like this. It's enjoyable. It's fun to come to the rink when you're winning. We got to try to keep that momentum up for tomorrow too. It's probably our biggest test of the year with one of the best teams in the East." - Stamkos

Tonight's win extends the Lightning's lead in the Southeast Division to five points. They'll be in action again tomorrow night when they host the New York Rangers in the final game of this season-long five-game homestand.

Game notes:

  • Stat of the night? Rookie sensation Cory Conacher's 11-12 Norfolk Admirals card, his first professional hockey card, can be had on eBay for a mere $6.00.
  • The Lightning haven't lost at home in regulation to the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise since April 11, 2009, compiling a record of 9-0-1 in that span.
  • With Thompson's goal tonight, 14 different Bolts have scored goals so far this season.
  • Lindback's assist on Stamkos' goal was his first as a member of the Lightning and the second of his NHL career.
  • The Lightning now have a sold-out home game streak of eight, extending back into last season (all five games this season and the last three of 2011-12).
  • Tonight's game was the first of back-to-back home games, a scheduling quirk affecting all teams during this abbreviated regular season. They face five more back-to-backs this season, all on the road. Previously, they split the only two back-to-back games they've played so far, registering their only loss this season, 4-3 at the New York Islanders on January 21st before winning 4-1 at Carolina the next night.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneer all-pro wide receiver was on hand, with his "Jackson In Action 83" foundation hosting families of deployed service members from MacDill Air Force Base.
  • The Lightning honored Kay Dillinger as the 19th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Winnipeg Jets. Dillinger, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Beth Dillinger Foundation. Dillinger quit her career has a courtroom reporter after her only daughter died to begin a foundation that provides support and education for children in need. She created the Beth Dillinger Foundation, named after her daughter, in 2007, and began working at the PACE school in Pinellas Park. The Foundation created Beth's Closet which focused on at-risk girls, providing them with clothing and rewards for positive behavior. It expanded to a "Closet Day" every six weeks, which is a celebration of positive behavior and during which each girl gets to select a new outfit. Operating with only volunteers and no overhead costs, Dillinger honors her daughter's memory and legacy by feeding, clothing and helping educate countless children in the Tampa Bay area. She started The Hope Chest, which serves foster children in the Public Defender's Office. She helps raise scholarship funds for boys and girls wishing to continue their education to a higher level. Dillinger also began the campaign Nourish to Flourish, a partnership with the 6th Circuit Public Defender's Office that feeds chronically hungry children.