If the Winnipeg Jets needed to hit rock bottom with their penalty killing before it took an upswing, the 8-3 loss in Tampa Bay should be it. As bad as the penalty kill has been, add to that “what can go wrong, will go wrong.”
The Jets were two seconds away from killing the Lightning's first power play when a harmless looking shot was deflected by Cory Conacher for the game's opening goal.
Then, disaster. A Chris Thorburn major for checking from behind sent Tampa Bay's power play to work; a power play that had eight goals in 21 opportunities on home ice. Thirty-six seconds into the kill Ron Hainsey had a rolling puck to deal with, and his attempt to put it off the glass and out resulted in a delay of game call; the puck sailing into the crowd.
Tampa Bay capitalized (Steven Stamkos) on the 5-on-3 to take a 2-0 lead. Another penalty, another 5-on-3 and it was 3-0 (Vinny Lecavalier). Before the period was out, Evander Kane, feeling the refs had missed an interference call on Victor Hedman, picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty that carried into the second. One second after the penalty ended, Conacher scored his second to make it 4-0.
“The penalties in the first were not by design. Especially against one of the best power play teams and scoring teams in the league. Then the game got out of hand. Spin it in any negative fashion you want, we all know what happened,” coach Claude Noel said post-game.
The Jets got some offense going in the third period. Toby Enstrom`s second goal in as many games was followed by Paul Postma`s first in the NHL, making it 6-2. Ryan Malone answered for the Lightning before Andrew Ladd's power play marker made it 7-3. Tampa's Benoit Pouliot ended the night's scoring, giving the Lightning an 8-3 win.
“I know they didn't compete as hard as they did in the first two, but I know our players care and care for each other. Paul Postma was good, gained a lot of experience, Scheifele (played centre for the third period after starting with Alexie Ponikarovsky and Alex Burmistrov) was good. Wanted to get him back in, more to get more speed into the lineup," Noel said.
In the big picture, Friday's third period could be seen as at least something positive for the Jets on this roadtrip, as they head home 0-3. Five of their next six games are at the MTS Centre, starting Tuesday with Florida. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290)
Coach Noel is looking forward to a couple of days of practice before Tuesday's game. “We need time on the ice. Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom. Our job is to find solutions. I know how this team can play.”
Pavelec came into the game averaging 35 shots against per game, a number that has to come down.
Conacher entered the game tied for the league lead in rookie points, while Enstrom entered the game tied with four others for the league lead in points by a defenceman; both had three points in the game.
Postma added two assists for a three-point period in a game where he played over 21 minutes. Blake Wheeler and Kane had their five-game point streaks snapped, while Enstrom extended his to six (2-8-10) and is 2-9-11 on the season.
Mark Scheifele played his fourth game of the season (16:47 ice time, the highest in his 11 game NHL career), with Kyle Wellwood out as a coach's decision, and Dustin Byfuglien again out due to injury (lower body, day-to-day.)