Tampa Bay Lightning can’t pull off comeback, lost 3-2 to Winnipeg Jets
They played well for most of the night, put couldn’t translate their chances into goals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning started the game the way they wanted to, with an early goal by Alex Killorn, but couldn’t build on it and the Winnipeg Jets scored three goals in a row to take a 3-2 win. Anthony Cirelli scored a short-handed goal before leaving the game with an upper-body injury. Nate Schmidt (deflected by a Lightning stick), Nino Niederreiter (power play), and Morgan Barron (disputed) all scored for the Jets while Connor Hellebuyck stopped 33 of 35 shots from the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 of 22.
Zach Bogosian was scratched with Darren Raddysh taking his spot in the line-up. Following his early exit on Saturday, Steven Stamkos returned and played 17:49 with two shots on goal.
These two teams love to score goals against each other so it’s no surprise that two pucks crossed the goal line in the first 20 minutes. The Lightning were first on the board as Alex Killorn finished off a nice centering pass from Anthony Cirelli and squeaked a shot through Connor Hellebuyck. The Cirelli line was especially noticeable in the first period as they had several long shifts in the Winnipeg zone.
Tampa Bay built up a 10-3 edge in scoring chances and pitched a shutout in high-danger chances (4-0) as their forecheck slowed Winnipeg’s breakouts while their defensive zone coverage broke up a lot of passes. The forwards were helping the defense and the team seemed in sync up and down the ice.
Sometimes bad thing happen even when you’re being responsible and it was Nate Schmidt who benefited from a little puck luck. The veteran blueliner just shot it towards the net and the puck hit Michael Eyssimont’s stick and deflected past Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the game. There’s not much they can do about that.
That’s some solid crease-defending there in the first period.
Alex Killorn (Anthony Cirelli, Brandon Hagel) 1-0 Lightning
Nate Schmidt (Logan Stanley) 1-1
Giving up a goal just a minute into the period wasn’t a great way to start. Unfortunately, an early penalty by Ross Colton (that did save a goal) led to a Winnipeg power play. Nino Niederreiter got the puck down low and it looked like he was going to try to wrap it inside the far post, but instead slid it under Vasilevskiy as the goaltender went to spread out.
The Lightning played a little better after going down, but Winnipeg was a little more solid in front of their net, denying Tampa Bay the high-danger chances. The home team was still finding ways to keep the puck in the offensive zone and after two long sustained shifts in the Jets’ zone, the game kind of went off the rails.
Branden Dillon put a shot on net off of a rush that Vasilevskiy fought off. He was then prevented from getting back into position by Dillon while Morgan Barron scored the easiest goal of his NHL career. Surely, that was the textbook definition of goaltender interference. Coach Cooper challenged and everyone chatted about it for a few minutes before ruling that, no, it wasn’t interference and the goal stood.
So not only are they down two goals, they’re also shorthanded because of the failed challenge. No worries, Anthony Cirelli is on the case. Brandon Hagel stopped a shot in the slot, waited for Cirelli to get clear and then fed him a beautiful pass. Cirelli didn’t get fancy, just roofed it over Hellebuyck’s glove to cut the score to 3-2.
The Lightning would then have an extended amount of power play time, including a minute of 5-on-3 advantage. Unlike other times where they’ve had a two-skater advantage, there was a sense of urgency to their play. Unfortunately, Hellebuyck flashed back to some of his Vezina Trophy-winning ways and made a couple of key stops. Brayden Point backhanded a shot onto the crossbar (the second one the team hit in the period) and the score remained 3-2. Bummer.
As the period went on, the Lightning got back into their offensive ways and ended up generating 24 shot attempts at all strengths. Their radar was a little off as 8 of those attempts sailed wide of the net. They would need to carry that pressure over into the third period.
Nino Niederreiter (Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler) Power Play, 2-1 Jets
Morgan Barron (Brenden Dillon, Mason Appleton) 3-1 Jets
Anthony Cirelli (Brandon Hagel) Short-handed, 3-2 Jets
The Lightning would need at least two goals to take this win, and that’s if they didn’t allow one by the Jets in the meantime. Enter Andrei Vasilevskiy.
🗣 VASY— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 13, 2023
🗣 VASY pic.twitter.com/BEoOV0VuMT
That was the second breakaway he stopped in the period as David Gustafsson had one a few minutes earlier. The Jets did have a little more pressure than the Lightning would have liked in the third period, but the defense held strong.
Tampa Bay did have to mount their comeback shorthanded as Anthony Cirelli was not to be found on the ice after taking a hit to the head from Mark Scheifele in the second period.
While the Lightning were generating some zone time, they we’re getting a ton of dangerous chances. Only 8 of their 16 unblocked shots made it on net and Natural Stat Trick credited them with just 3 high-danger chances. Winnipeg was forcing them to the outside and preventing them from getting their cycle game going.
After Vasilevskiy stopped one more breakaway, the Lightning eventually pulled him for an extra attacker. They dodged a couple of empty-net chances by the Jets and appeared to have pulled off another last second miracle, but Victor Hedman’s shot found iron instead of the back of the net. Winnipeg held on for the 3-2 win, and the Lightning’s four-game homestand ended with them going 2-1-1.
They now head out on a three-game road trip where they play New Jersey back-to-back and then Montreal.