TAMPA, Fla. — Do the right things and a team wins games. Win games and good things happen to a team.
The Winnipeg Jets saw that cause and effect on Thursday night as they played the style required for them to be successful and earned a 2-1 win over the divisional rival Tampa Bay Lightning.
The victory resulted in the Jets shooting up to ninth in the Eastern Conference standings from 11th. Winnipeg now owns a .500 record at 11-11-1 for 23 points, just three back of a playoff spot in the East.
"That’s the way we want to play every night. It was a good battle from both teams. We did the right things as a team, which we didn’t do the last two games and they were losses," said veteran defenceman Mark Stuart.
❚ Eric Tangradi has been given an opportunity by the Jets, playing in 16 games since being acquired, but his window of opportunity was in danger of being closed after failing to produce any points. A first-period goal showed off his size and finish as he beat Lightning goalie Anders Lindback from in tight.
"That felt great. I’ve been trying to contribute and I think I have with my size, but scoring is something I have to do as well," said Tangradi. "Hopefully this will give me more opportunity and I can build on this."
❚ A key coming into this game for the Jets was staying out of the penalty box, as Tampa has one of the league’s most dangerous power plays. Things went awry for Winnipeg as both Stuart and Paul Postma ended up in the box at the same time. Goalie Al Montoya came up with some key saves and the Jets escaped the second still leading 1-0.
"All the guys did a great job on the penalty kill," said Montoya. "They didn’t let them have many shots and when they did, I was able to see them and then our guys cleared pucks away. It was a big win for us."
❚ The heat turned up in the third period as Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 18th of the season. Montoya had no chance and the Lightning found themselves even at home with lots of mileage left on the clock.
But the Jets proved resilient and Bryan Little cashed in with a quick shot that left Lindberg wanting.
After the buzzer
❚ Jets head coach Claude Noel pointed to his team’s penalty killing in the game and in particular in the second period as the key to the win.
"The turning point in the game was the 5-on-3 for the full two minutes. We lost (Mark) Stuart and were down a defenceman so that’s why I called the timeout, to keep the people fresh."