TAMPA BAY-- The Tampa Bay Lightning got two goals from their fourth line & added two power play goals to beat the WInnipeg Jets 5-2 on Tuesday night. Forward Nikita Kucherov recorded two assists to give him 108 points this season, tying the franchise make set by Vincent Lecavalier in the 2006-07 season.
Winnipeg entered the game, after winning in Columbus on Sunday, in the first of a four-game East Coast road trip. But in round two of the potential Stanley Cup Finals preview, it was the home team that got the first goal of the game, With just over 90 seconds gone in the game, Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, from behind his own net, hit Ondrej Palat with a pass near their own blue line & the forward sent a pass to center Yanni Gourde, who broke into the Jets zone & snapped a high shot over goalie Connor Hellebuyck. And with two crisp passes, the Lightning took a 1-0 lead on Gourde's 18th goal of the year.
Less than five minutes after taking the lead, the Lightning were put on the penalty kill after center Cedric Paquette was called for slashing. And with Paquette in the box, the first scoring chance actually went to the Lightning, who broke out of their own zone. But center Anthony Cirelli missed connecting with Gourde on a pass in their offensive zone, near the Winnipeg net. The misconnection left two Lightning players including defenseman Ryan McDonagh deep in the Winnipeg zone. And it led to a Jets breaking out with forward Patrick Laine carrying the puck on a two on one, then hitting forward Blake Wheeler with a pass in front of Vasilevskiy. And the forward was able to shoot the puck into the net for the game tying power play goal.
Despite the Lightning have an opportunity on the power play after a slashing penalty on Jets forward Brandon Tanev, the first period ended in a 1-1 tie. But the period didn't end without some extra curricular activities because after Paquette took a blow to his face that went uncalled, the Lightning forward exchanged some shoves with Wheeler, leading to matching roughing penalties at the end of the period.
In the second period, Tampa Bay regained the lead on a speedy breakout play by Mathieu Joseph. The Lightning forward grabbed a loose puck near near his own blue line & sped up the ice with linemate Adam Erne, leading to another two on one. And after Jospeh held the puck as he entered the face-off circle, Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba made an attempt to poke the puck away. But Joseph controlled the puck & hit Erne with a perfect pass, who was to the right of the net & was able to redirect the puck past Hellebuyck, for his seventh goal of the year.
Leading 2-1, the Lightning went on the power play a little more than five minutes after Erne's goal. And following a change at goalie for the Jets, due to Hellebuyck taking a shot by Kucherov off his mask, the Lightning didn't waste any time taking advantage of center Andrew Copp being in the penalty box for holding. That's because after forward J.T. Miller won a face-off, Kucherov & defenseman Victor Hedman set-up center Steven Stamkos for a one-timer 23 seconds into the power play. And the Lightning captain buried a shot high for his 34th goal, over back-up goalie Laurent Brossoit, who hadn't faced a shot until the blast by Stamkos.
Having out-shot the Jets 27-15 in the first two periods, the Lightning made it a three goal lead with some help from the fourth line. But unlike their first goal in the second period, the fourth line went to work behind the Winnipeg net with both Erne & Joseph outworking the Jets until the puck came out to Paquette, who was in front of the net & snapped a high shot over Hellebuyck, who returned to the game after missing just three minutes in the second period.
Just under five minutes after Paquette scored his 10th goal of the year, Tampa Bay got another power play chance. And before a minute was gone, following Hellebuyck robbing Stamkos on another one-timer with a glove save, Kucherov & Stamkos worked the man advantage to get Brayden Point his one-timer opportunity. And the Lightning center slammed his 37th goal of the year into the net, making the score 5-1.
With over four minutes left in the game, Winnipeg added a power play goal by Trouba after an interference penalty to Joseph to make the score 5-2.
Tampa Bay will look for their third straight win overall & eighth straight home win when they host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Coverage begins on New Radio WFLA with the pre-game at 6:30pm followed with the puck drop schedule for 7:30pm.
1. TBL- Gourde 18th Goal (Palat, Girardi)- 1:34
2. WPG- PPG- Wheeler 18th Goal (Laine, Trouba)- 6:31
1. TBL- Erne 7th Goal (Joseph, Cirelli)- 8:58
2. PPG-TBL- Stamkos 34th Goal (Hedman, Kucherov)- 14:26
1. TBL- Paquette 10th Goal (Joseph, Erne)- 4:20
2. PPG-TBL- Point 37th Goal (Kucherov, Stamkos)- 9:50
3. WPG- Trouba 5th Goal (Hellbuyck)- 15:03
1. TBL- Paquette (Slashing 2 mins)- 6:05
2. WPG- Tanev (Slashing 2 mins)- 17:14
3. WPG- Wheeler (Roughing 2 mins)- 20:00
4. TBL- Paquette (Slashing 2 mins)- 20:00
1. WPG- Copp (Holding 2 mins)- 14:03
1. WPG- Trouba (Delay Of Game-Puck Over Glass 2 mins)- 1:10
2. WPG- Kulikov (Slashing 2 mins)- 9:07
3. TBL- Joseph (Interference 2 mins)- 14:11
4. TBL- Paquette (Slashing 2 mins)- 15:27
5. TBL- Paquette (Unsportsmanlike Conduct 2 mins)- 15:27
6. WPG- Chiarot (Roughing 2 mins) - 15:27