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This article was published 18/2/2016 (2328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TAMPA, Fla. — They turned their outrage and their anger into a constructive direction, and the Winnipeg Jets believe they have something around which to rally in the days ahead.
During a 6-5 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday at Amalie Arena, the Jets rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits, led late in the third period and had the better overtime chances but were unable to find the killer blow.
Their passion and energy were evident, even when things were going wrong in the first period, especially during the last five minutes of the frame when they surrendered three goals.
"We battled for 60 minutes and unfortunately came up on the wrong side of it," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd, who had two third-period goals that helped the Jets draw even.
"This team always responds well, every time we’re challenged. We come back and play the right way. It’s consistently doing that that we need to keep doing."
Jets coach Paul Maurice, who was ejected from the game before the third period started, praised his captain to the hilt after it was over.
‘’Really really impressed with Andrew Ladd, the game that he played," Maurice said. "He didn’t take the morning skate because he’s not at 100 per cent, and he sure played with an awful lot of heart here tonight."
The Jets were an angry bunch after two hits by Lightning defenceman Anton Stralman late in the second period.
Both were ruled legal by referees Francois St. Laurent and Dan O’Rourke.
First Stralman knocked Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers over with what looked like a late shot.
Then seconds later after Jets centre Bryan Little was checked and sent off balance by Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman in the neutral zone, Little, skating a couple of strides hunched over, was drilled in the head by Stralman.
Little spent a long time on the ice and did not return to the game.
"You don’t want to see that, right?" Ladd said. "I understand he’s probably in a vulnerable spot, and I think he’s stumbling for three or four steps so as a D man you know he’s in a vulnerable spot. Do you need to try to take his head off? I don’t think so.
"So it’s a clear head shot, and hopefully the league looks at it and takes care of it. But I liked the response of our group from that point on."
Ladd said it was obvious why Maurice blew his stack and was penalized at that time, then kicked out of the game to start the third.
"I’m sure you guys can figure out why he’s pissed off," Ladd said. "I don’t think I need to add to that."
Jets winger Blake Wheeler challenged Stralman after the check and received the extra minor penalty for doing so.
"I didn’t really see the first one on Nikky there," Wheeler said. "I saw him go flying, and I knew he got kind of clipped so I wasn’t sure what happened there. But then the one on Litts, it’s just a guy taking a liberty on a guy who’s in a vulnerable spot. So that pisses you off.
"I think our guys came out and battled extremely hard from the drop of the puck in the first period. I really liked the way we competed all night, got behind and stuck with it.
"Paul’s no different than us. I think he’s fed up with the way things are going, and I think he was fed up with the circumstances as well, and it just shows we’re all on the same page."
Wheeler was asked about St. Laurent’s smile or laughter about ejecting Maurice.
"No. I don’t (have a comment)," Wheeler said. "I didn’t see it but I don’t know why he would do that. It’s a shame the refs sometimes don’t have to do media scrums after the games and let him answer that question."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said later he didn’t see anything wrong with what Stralman did.
"Unfortunately Little had his head down," Cooper said. "Stralman’s not a dirty player. It’s a clean hit. There was no malicious intent. I didn’t see anything wrong with it."