Jets close out homestand with much-needed 7-4 win over Tampa Bay

With their playoff hopes slipping away and less than two weeks until the trade deadline, the Winnipeg Jets got a much-needed win Tuesday night thanks to a chaotic 7-4 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Jets let first-period leads of 2-0 and 3-1 slip away, and the game was tied at 3 heading into the third, but the Jets were able to score four times.

“You take out the three goals we gave up, I thought we did a lot of really good things in the first period,” said Jets head coach Dave Lowry.  “We created the way we wanted to.”

“We talked about how we’re going to have to play the rest of the way out to give ourselves a chance. We were going to have to play direct and in straight lines and we did that. We stuck with it and played our game for 60 minutes tonight.”

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Mark Scheifele led the way with a goal and three assists for the Jets, Paul Stastny potted two goals, and Kyle Connor scored his team-leading 34th of the season, a nifty shorthanded goal in the third period, that ended up being the game-winner.

Scheifele says the team was clicking Tuesday night,

“We had guys in the right spots,” Scheifele said. “We found some consistency being in the right spots and our D were active and moving really well tonight so that opens up seams and other guys and gets them on the run. We gotta see more of that.”

It was as good a start as the Jets could have imagined, despite not converting on an early power play.

The Lightning turned the puck over in their own end just over four minutes in, leading to a Logan Stanley point shot. Mark Scheifele deflected the puck off the post but collected the rebound and put it past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Less than two minutes later, the Jets doubled their lead. Nikolaj Ehlers burst into the Tampa end with blazing speed, circling the zone before finding Brenden Dillon for a point shot.

Adam Lowry was left alone in front of the Lightning net and tipped the puck, which was turned aside by Vasilevskiy but Lowry shovelled the rebound home to put his side up 2-0 at the 6:11 mark. It was Lowry’s 8th of the season and 4th in a six-game stretch.

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Things continued to go Winnipeg’s way as they killed off a Neal Pionk penalty midway through the frame but Tampa got on the board shortly thereafter.

Pierre-Luc Dubois made a bad play in the neutral zone, a giveaway that led to a 2-on-1. Mathieu Joseph found Ryan McDonagh who ripped one high blocker side past Connor Hellebuyck at the 11:50 mark.

Paul Stastny would restore the two-goal lead a few minutes later when Pionk made a patient play at the point before finding Stastny in the slot, beating Vasilevskiy with a bit of a soft one.

The Lightning then demonstrated how devastating their transition game can be at even strength.

Click to play video: 'RAW: Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor- March 8' RAW: Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor- March 8
RAW: Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor- March 8 – Mar 9, 2022

Moving the puck up the ice with great precision, the two-time defending champs cut the lead to one when Alex Killorn found space alone in the slot, beating Hellebuyck from in tight at the 16:01 mark.

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And less than 90 seconds later, the game was tied. Trailing the play in transition, Victor Hedman got the puck from Nikita Kucherov, walked into the slot and ripped one past Hellebuyck’s blocker.

The Jets had a great chance to get the lead back in the waning seconds of the period but Kyle Connor hit the post on a 2-on-1.

The second period will take much less time to recap because nobody scored in the middle frame. The Jets did some good power play chances late in the period but Connor was denied on a good chance by a sliding Vasilevskiy. Winnipeg also earned a brief 5-on-3 but couldn’t generate any chances with it.

Winnipeg finally broke the deadlock thanks to a third period power play. Vasilevskiy stopped a shot from Connor but Dubois put home the rebound to put the Jets back on top, prompting the Lightning netminder to break his stick in half on the post in frustration.

Tampa got a chance to tie it with a power play just minutes later but instead, they shot themselves in the foot.

Hedman had the puck at centre ice and spun to pass it back to Mikhail Sergachev but the pass was well off the mark, causing the Russian defenceman to blow a tire and leaving the puck sitting there for the taking inside the Lightning blue line. Connor sped onto it and raced in alone, undressing the Tampa goalie to make it 5-3 Winnipeg.

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Desperate to generate some offence, Vasilevskiy was pulled for an extra attacker with just under six minutes left. The move backfired when Josh Morrissey scored into the empty net at the 5:12 mark.

The Lightning did get one back with 2:45 to go when Ross Colton redirected a point shot past Hellebuyck, but all that did was convince Tampa to pull the goalie again, and only 14 seconds after Colton scored, Stastny deposited his second of the night into the empty net.

Click to play video: 'RAW: Dave Lowry – March 8' RAW: Dave Lowry – March 8
RAW: Dave Lowry – March 8 – Mar 9, 2022

It’s the fifth straight game in which Hellebuyck has allowed at least four goals but he got the win nonetheless, stopping 20 shots for the victory.

The Jets (25-22-10) are seven points out of a playoff spot despite the win, after Nashville defeated Dallas 2-1 Thursday night. The win moves the Predators into the Western Conference’s first wildcard position and drops the Stars into the second spot with 67 points.

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The Jets begin a three-game road trip Thursday night in New Jersey. Pregame show begins on 680 CJOB at 4 p.m., with the puck dropping just after 6 p.m.

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