TAMPA, Fla. — The Winnipeg Jets acknowledged their sins after Thursday’s meltdown against the Florida Panthers, then went right back out and repeated them Friday.
And really, they were even worse.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were a grateful bunch, taking five power plays in the first period alone and ripping home three goals to make it a laugher of a victory, 8-3 over the rattled Jets.
Winnipeg returns home from a three-game road trip with nothing but losses, now 3-4-1.
It started with Cory Conacher’s tip-in goal when Ondrej Pavelec was very deep in his net. A few minutes later, Chris Thorburn checked Tampa Bay’s Sami Salo into the boards from behind and was banished from the game with a major penalty. Twice during the sentence, Winnipeg went down two men with further minor penalties and Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier belted home 5-on-3 goals to make it 3-0.
"It’s obviously not where you want to go, with what we’re talking about and the difficulty we’ve had killing penalties," said Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey, who shot the puck over the glass, causing one of the five-on-threes. "The five-minute situation, where the last thing you want to do is take another one."
Late in the first period, when referees Tim Peel and Mike Leggo gave Victor Hedman a pass on a late hit on Blake Wheeler, who had dumped the puck in, the Jets bench lost its cool. Already down 3-0, the chirping led to an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty to Evander Kane and led to another goal early in the second by Conacher, one second after Kane’s penalty was over.
"Some of the penalties we took weren’t great," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "Then the hit on Wheeler was a call that certainly our bench thought (went) against us. It kind of caught us off-guard on that one. The guys were frustrated and angry, and I think that it showed.
"We ended up taking another penalty."
The Conacher and Nate Thompson goals drove Pavelec from the net on five goals in 14 shots before replacement Al Montoya allowed Teddy Purcell to make it 6-0 on the first shot he faced.
Maybe a little pride entered the equation, but Winnipeg finally hit the board with goals by Toby Enstrom, then Paul Postma (his first in the NHL in his 12th game) and Andrew Ladd, both of those on the power play. Ryan Malone had another for the Lightning in a river-hockey third period.
"Heading into the third, I think we just wanted to finish it off the right way and keep battling to the end, which I thought we did," said Ladd. "It’s tough to find something to say when things are going that way. It’s pretty self-explanatory what needed to be done. Really, much didn’t have to be said. Some things were said but that will stay in here."
After the buzzer:
After an angry, fuming conversation with reporters Thursday, Noel looked subdued, maybe defeated, after this one. At least for a night.
"Sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom to figure out you’ve had enough of this stuff," Noel said. "Our job is to find solutions to these things. For me, I know how our team can play."