The Winnipeg Jets gained a much needed two points Sunday night as they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. Bryan Little had a goal and two assists and Ondrej Pavelec was solid in net stopping 23 shots. The Jets seemed to be kicking a team while they were down as earlier in the day, the Lightning announced the firing of head coach Guy Boucher.
Bryan Little scored at the 14:02 mark of the first period to give the Jets the lead. Little provided the spark early in the game and would continue to find the score sheet in the second period assisting on the power play goal by Dustin Byfuglien. After Steve Stamkos scored his league leading 22nd goal of the season to draw the Lightning within one, Little would find a pinching Tobias Enstrom with a quick feed to put the Jets up 3-1. It was Enstrom’s first game in over a month after suffering a shoulder injury. Rookie Cory Conacher would score in the third period for the Lightning and netminder Cedrick Desjardins making only his 7th career start would stop 23 saves in the loss.
Ondrej Pavelec was brilliant at times bailing out the Jets on more than one occasion. Lightning forward Cory Conacher found himself all alone on Pavelec on a powerplay but the Jets goalie was up to the task making a dazzling glove save to preserve the lead.
After the game, coach Claude Noel talked highly of his goalie’s play even suggesting that he’s been one of the best players on the team all year.
“[Pavelec] has been arguably our best player pretty much for a long stretch of time. I’m just thankful that he’s in the net, let’s put it that way,” Noel said. “I thought he did his part and more and that’s what he has been doing”.
The Jets finished off the home stand going 2-2 and will now hit the road to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The matchup pits the top two Southeast teams against each other with Winnipeg a four point cushion. Carolina has three games in hand.
Photo by Ron Cantiveros