The Tampa Bay Lightning fell short in their attempt to overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period, falling to the Winnipeg Jets 6-4 on Tuesday.
The loss ended the Lightning’s three-game point streak and brings their record to 19-16-4 this season. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves in his sixth straight start, while Jets goaltender Connor Hallebuyck stopped 32-of-36 shots in the winning effort.
The Lightning were just 2-for-7 on the power play and the Jets were able to capitalize on 1-of-4 opportunities with the man advantage.
Lightning forward Matthew Peca tallied his first NHL goal to tie the game 1-1 in the second period, but the Jets scored three straight goals in the middle frame — including Nikolaj Ehlers’ penalty shot marker after he was hooked down on a breakaway by Nikita Kucherov. The Jets would go onto score three unanswered goals in the second period and carried a 4-1 lead into the final session.
The Lightning narrowed the Jets’ lead to two goals early in the third period, but Winnipeg responded by regaining a three-goal lead a little more than six minutes later on Ehlers’ second goal of the contest. Kucherov potted a pair of power-play goals to cut the lead to one with just over three minutes to play, but Patrik Laine put the game out of reach when he scored an empty-net goal with under two minutes in regulation.
The Jets snapped a two-game losing streak — on in which they were outscored 11-5 — by overcoming a 17-6 shot deficit in the first period by coming out strong in the second and holding onto the lead in the third.
Let’s take a closer look at how things played out on Tuesday:
The Lightning got off to a strong start in the first period and were put on their first power play early in the period before Victor Hedman was called for a tripping penalty 33 seconds later. The teams skated four players per side for just 18 seconds when Laine was called for slashing to give the Lightning a shortened 4-on-3 power play. However, the Lightning were unable to score, despite keeping the Jets from registering a shot on goal in the early going.
Just after the teams were back to even strength, Ondrej Palat was called for hooking just under seven minutes into the period and the Jets made it 1-0 when Scheifele potted his 16th goal of the season. It was the first of three penalties for Palat in the game.
The Lightning entered the period down 1-0 despite leading in shots by a 17-6 margin.
The Lightning knotted the game at one when Peca received Vladislav Namestnikov’s pass at the Jets’ blue line and skated in before firing a hard wrist shot over Hellebuyck’s blocker side and into the top left corner of the net to score the first goal of his career just under four minutes into the period.
However, Peca’s goal was the only bright spot in the middle frame for the Lightning, as the Jets scored three straight goals and outshot them 13-10 for the period.
The trouble began, at least on the score board, when Ehlers received a penalty shot after being hooked by Kucherov on a breakaway attempt just 47 second after Peca’s tally. The smooth skating Dannish winger skated in on Vasilevskiy and beat him to make it 2-1.
The Jets added two more goals in the period, as Jacob Trouba fired a one-timer from the high slot and into the Lightning net before Dustin Byfuglien made it a three-goal game with just under five minutes left in the period.
The Lightning made it interesting in the third, despite being in a three-goal deficit to start the period. Palat cut the Jets’ lead to two when he took a Tyler Johnson feed in the Jets’ zone and fired it past an outstretched Hellebuyck at the 3;26 mark. The goal extended Palat’s point streak to four games (three goals, two assists) since he returned to the lineup on Dec. 28.
The Jets regained the three-goal lead when Ehlers tallied his second goal of the night just past the nine-minute mark of the period. It was Ehlers’ 12th goal of the second and an important goal given the rally attempt by the Lightning that followed.
They cut the Jets’ lead to just one goal when Kucherov netted a pair of power-play markers just over five minutes apart in the later portion of the final frame.
Kucherov’s second goal capped a three-point effort on the night and gave hope to a Lightning team that was largely outplayed in the final two periods after a coming out well to start the game.
The Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy for the extra attacker and Hedman made a kick save in the crease to keep the game within reach, before Laine scored an empty-netter to make it 6-4. Laine’s goal was his 20th of the season and moved him into a tie with Auston Matthews for the leader among all first-year players.
The Jets held onto the lead to collect two points in the first of two matchups between these teams in the 2016-17 regular season.
WPG – Mark Scheifele (16) assisted by Patrik Laine and Toby Enstrom (PP)
TB – Matthew Peca (1) assisted by Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn
WPG – Nikolaj Ehlers (11) unassisted (Penalty Shot)
WPG – Jacob Trouba (2) assisted by Mathieu Perreault and Blake Wheeler
WPG – Dustin Byfuglien (5 ) assisted by Josh Morrissey and Blake Wheeler
TBL – Ondrej Palat (7) assisted by Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov
WPG – Nikolaj Ehlers (12) assisted by Patrik Laine and Jacob Trouba
TBL – Nikita Kucherov (14) assisted by Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman (PP)
TBL – Nikita Kucherov (15) assisted by Victor Hedman and Jonathan Drouin (PP)
WPG – Patrik Laine (20) assisted by Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers
THW Three Stars
First: Nikolaj Ehlers (two goals, one assist)
Second: Nikita Kucherov (two goals, one assist)
Third: Jacob Trouba (one goal, one assist)
What’s Up Next
Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2016
Amalie Arena – 7:30 P.M. EST
Broadcast Channels – Fox Sports Sun, FS-TN
Winnipeg Jets at Florida Panthers
Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016
BB&T Center – 7:00 P.M. EST
Broadcast Channels – SN1, SNW, SNP, FS-F