For the first time since October 31 and November 3, the Winnipeg Jets have won back to back road games. The first was a 2-1 shootout win in Philadelphia Tuesday and on Thursday the Jets beat Tampa 2-1 in overtime.
A number of streaks came to an end with the Jets win. The Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise had lost seven straight in Tampa, Mathieu Garon was 5-0 as a starter against the franchise and the Lightning were on a five game winning streak.
From a Jets standpoint you hope the streak breaking continues Friday as the Jets try to snap a 0-8 mark in the second game of back to back situations as they continue the road trip against the Panthers. (TSN Jets and TSN 1290) The last time the Jets beat Tampa was in Winnipeg November 14 and it started the Jets on an 8-2-1 run.
Jets are now four points out of eighth in the East, but only three points back of south east division leading Florida. Can you say "big game" Friday?
Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov returned to the line-up. Burmistrov had missed two, while Byfuglien sat out 16 games. And so much for defensive coach Charlie Huddy bring in back in slowly. Byfuglien played 25:36 and assisted on the overtime goal by Kyle Wellwood. Jets are now 3-3 in games that end in overtime, having won the last three.
Jets played a very solid first 30 minutes, but when Blake Wheeler scored at 19:44 of the second to open the scoring, it was the Jets first shot on goal in just under 13 minutes. Victor Hedman tied the game in the third, setting the stage for Wellwood's tenth of the year. Wheeler's goal was also his 10th and he also drew an assist on the winning goal. In a TSN Jets post-game interview Wheeler agreed he is playing the best hockey of his career.
The penalty kill was again the key to the game, as the Lightning had a late third period power play but never got a shot on goal, despite their top three forwards being out for the full two minutes. Steven Stamkos (NHL goal scoring leader), Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis played the full power play as Coach Guy Boucher used his time out half way through the man advantage to rest his star players.
"[Ondrej] Pavelec again made some big saves when he had to," commented Coach Claude Noel post game. "We were good in the first, had some risky passes in the second, but really felt we could win the game 1-0. We thought the goal late in the second would deflate them but it didn't."
Nik Antropov had a season high 23:49 in ice time, while Bryan Little won 13 of 18 face-offs. With the Jets playing Sunday afternoon in Montreal, there's a good chance Chris Mason will start against the Panthers.
On Byfuglien Coach Noel felt he was a real factor in the game. "He was an effective player, created chances."
Nothing new to report on Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton, who are both out with injuries.