Lightning Strike When Needed, Zap Jets 4-2

Lightning Strike When Needed, Zap Jets 4-2

Winnipeg Jets Report

By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)

Toby Enstrom - Winnipeg Jets
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin (27) avoids Winnipeg Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom (39) in NHL action at MTS Centre on Friday, October 24, 2014. (SHAWN COATES / CHRISD.CA)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his goal in NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre Friday night. (SHAWN COATES / CHRISD.CA)

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets came out firing Friday night looking to string together consecutive victories for the first time this season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning took advantage of the few chances they were given, scoring three times on just six shots in the second frame to beat the struggling Jets 4-2 at MTS Centre.

Winnipeg peppered Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop with 30 shots through the first two periods — and Bryan Little was able to record his team-leading fourth goal of the season while snapping Winnipeg’s 22-attempt power-play drought — but Tampa’s Ondrej Palat notched a goal and an assist in the period to take a 4-1 stranglehold and chase goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from the game. The Jets’ fifth-year starter allowed all four Lightning goals on 18 shots.

Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien (33) fights Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Radko Gudas (7) in play at MTS Centre on Friday. (SHAWN COATES / CHRISD.CA)
Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien (33) fights Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Radko Gudas (7) in play at MTS Centre on Friday. (SHAWN COATES / CHRISD.CA)

“The offensive part of our game in terms of chances for and chances against has been good,” said Jets bench boss Paul Maurice, whose team recorded 42 total shots on goal and 27 against. “The quality of chances we gave up is too high. The odd-man rushes that we gave up aren’t coming off for and off the rush. We’re not trading rush chances back and forth — it was just positional. Fairly basic things.”

Michael Hutchinson started the third between the pipes for the Jets, making nine saves while not allowing any more damage. The switch of netminders may have also provided a bit of a spark. Blake Wheeler picked up his own rebound in a pile of bodies before turning and firing his third goal of the season top-shelf to make it 4-2 midway through the third.

“We tried to do a better job in the third. I think (Hutchinson) came in and played strong,” said Wheeler, named an alternate captain this season for the first time in his career. “(Pavelec) has been awesome for us all year, so it was too bad that we did him in a little bit in the first two periods.”

Rookie Jonathan Drouin — Tampa’s third-overall selection in 2013 — notched his first-career NHL goal, while also recording an assist on Steven Stamkos‘ game-opening goal on a nifty give-and-go on a two-on-one less than five minutes into the game. Stamkos now has nine goals and 16 points in 11 career games against Winnipeg.

The Jets complete their five-game home stand with a Sunday matinée when they host the Colorado Avalanche at 2 p.m. at MTS Centre. The club then heads out on a four-game road trip through Long Island, New Jersey, New York, and Chicago.