Beyak: Jets finally eliminated from playoff picture

Dennis Beyak
4/1/2012 2:02:38 AM
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Game 79 of the regular season schedule will go down as the game when the Winnipeg Jets were mathematically eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Jets dropped a 3-2 overtime game in Tampa Bay on Saturday, while the Washington Capitals beat Montreal in a shootout giving the Capitals 88 points to the Jets 81.  The Jets have only three games remaining.   It was the Jets second straight overtime game.

For two periods the Jets were solid. Second period goals by Antti Miettienen and Kyle Wellwood erased the Tampa 1-0 first period lead. The 18 goals for Wellwood ties a career high for goals in a season.

The Jets got themselves into penalty trouble in the third, resulting in two brief 5 of 3 advantages for the Lightning. The penalty kill was successful when two men down, but eventually Ryan Malone's second of the night, on a power play tied it.

The Lightning built momentum off the power plays getting 21 third period shots on Ondrej Pavelec who was terrific. Late in the third he stopped the NHL's leading goal scorer Steven Stamkos on a breakaway, while at the other end Sebastien Caron in his first start for Tampa followed that up with a point blank save off Bryan Little.

A third period melee in front of the Lightning net resulted in Andrew Ladd picking up 17 minutes in penalties, ending his night. In overtime a controversial non-icing call lead to Stamkos scoring his 56th of the year and also his league leading fifth overtime winner of the season.

Dustin Byfuglien went back for a puck that was sent in from the Tampa side of centre, and with no whistle the Lightning gained control leading to the winner 45 seconds into overtime.   The Jets are now 5-5 in games that end in overtime.

 "The effort was good, but you can't keep taking penalties," head coach Claude Noel told the media post-game. "They built all their third period momentum off the power play. But we'll take three of four points in the first two games on the road trip and move on."

The Jets next take to the ice on Tuesday against the Panthers (TSN Jets, TSN 1290)

Nik Antropov had his four game goal streak snapped, while Byfuglien was again over 25 minutes. Kyle Wellwood took a shot off the foot in the second period and finished with just over 10 minutes of ice time.

The game marked the return to the lineup of Chris Thorburn, who had missed nine with a lower body injury.


Ondrej Pavelec (Photo: Travis Golby/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Travis Golby/NHLI via Getty Images)
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