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New year begins with a game that got away in Winnipeg

What started as a strong game for the Lightning ended in frustration as the Jets breakthrough on home ice to begin the new year. Jets are known to be a strong defensive team that was on full display as the game continued. Despite outplaying the Jets in the first period numerous breakdowns occurred allowing the Jets to crawl back and take over the game. Andrei Vasilevskiy did his best to keep the Lightning in the game, but the Jets defense was too much to handle leading to the Bolts beginning the new year with a loss that could have been a solid victory.


Lightning strike first

Teams would exchange possession of the puck in the opening minutes with little to show for. Lightning would eventually register the first shot on goal in what has been a quiet opening period so far. That would not last much longer after a hi-sticking call on Adam Lowry gives Tampa the first power play of the game. On said power play the Lightning strike first with a goal from the captain, Steven Stamkos. The goal was his 16th of the season and kept the momentum going as Winnipeg looked flat to begin the game. As the period went on it was more of the same with Tampa maintaining control of the game. There was a miscue by the Bolts defense, but they were able to quickly recover and nearly scored on the next rush.

Late penalty ends the period

Almost every time the Jets tried to move the puck up the Lightning were quick to knock the puck off their sticks and re-gain control of the puck. Winnipeg’s best chance came with over 3 minutes to go as Mark Scheifele nearly tied the game, but Vasilevskiy was able to make the save. On the flip side, Connor Hellebuyck made a series of saves to prevent the Lightning from adding to their lead. Before the period ended Lightning were called for delay of game after the puck went off the stick of a player on the bench.

Winnipeg steals momentum

Jets began the period with 1:42 left on the power play. Lightning easily killed off the penalty and the score remained 1-0. Lightning maintained momentum up until the Jets found an opening to get on the board. Neal Pionk tipped in the puck from a shot by Brenden Dillon that went past Vasy to even the score 1-1. Jets puck battle remained strong and eventually would be rewarded. Alex Iafallo had an open look after a blocked shot to give Winnipeg the 2-1 lead. Mistakes that Lightning did not make in the first period were made now and that allowed the Jets to tie up and eventually lead the game.

Complete opposite of the first period

For the first time tonight, Tampa was behind and lost momentum in the process. With 7:46 left in the period Tampa went on the power play for the second time tonight. Unlike the first power play Lightning were unable to score and even coughed up a couple short-handed opportunities for the Jets. Despite all this the Lightning were able to create danger but luck was not on their side as the score remained 2-1. Miscues continued for the Lightning, but it did not lead to another goal for Winnipeg. Clearly, control of the game was all Winnipeg much like how the first was dominated by Tampa. However, with it still being a one goal game this is anyone’s game going into the third period.

Struggling to answer the Jets defense

Third period began with Winnipeg receiving a power play after Nikita Kucherov is called for tripping. This is not the start Tampa wanted considering how the Jets took over the game in the second period. Jets continued applying pressure but came up empty handed on the power play thanks to Vasilevskiy. Unfortunately, after another great save Vasilevskiy is called for tripping and the Jets went back on the power play. Lightning once again killed the penalty making the Jets 0/3 on the man-advantage. The saves continued by Vasilevskiy who somehow continued to keep the Jets from extending the lead.

The one that got away

As the period went on Jets continued to successfully silence the Lightning offense and just had to be smart with the puck to hold on to the lead. Instead, a turnover lead to a goal from Nikolaj Ehlers to extend the Jets lead 3-1. Lightning pull Vasy with two minutes to go but it was to no avail. Morgan Barron scores on the empty net to give the Jets a 4-1 lead. Hellebuyck was then called for tripping with a minute to go and Kucherov scores on the man-advantage to cut the lead 4-2. All in all, it was too little too late as the Lightning begin the new year with a 4-2 loss in Winnipeg. Jets extended their points streak to 9 win the win and Kucherov extended his goal streak to 4 games. Next up the team travels to Minnesota to face the Wild on Thursday.


Three stars of the game

1st star: Connor Hellebuyck – Saved 32 of 34 shots faced

2nd Star: Vladislav Namestnikov – 3 assists

3rd Star: Victor Hedman – 2 assists

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