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This article was published 9/12/2017 (644 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TAMPA BAY — Is there such a thing as partial redemption?
It’s fair to acknowledge that the Winnipeg Jets left central Florida with their collective pride reinforced, after a gritty and determined, though unspectacular, performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL’s premier team.
The Jets garnered a single point in a hard-fought 4-3 overtime defeat, wrapping up a mostly disappointing three-game road trip 0-2-1.
Lightning centre Brayden Point scored just 36 seconds into three-on-three overtime.
He got the jump on Jets centre Bryan Little, skated in alone on goalie Connor Hellebuyck and slipped in his 12th tally of the season.
Winnipeg (17-8-5) has yet to score an OT goal in six extra-time sessions this season but does have one shootout triumph.
The Lightning (21-6-2) picked up their fourth straight victory, all on home ice.
The Jets weren’t sharp in losses to the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers earlier in the week, but made good on a vow to return to the basics and tighten up defensively against the Steven Stamkos-led Lightning. They held the hosts to 28 shots, but generated just 20 of their own, as the ice surface at Amalie Arena, at times, seemed like it was tilted toward Hellebuyck.
Winnipeg tried, but barely had anything left in the tank for overtime, after playing its third games in five nights away from home.
"I was pretty proud of the way we played. We battled very hard," blue-liner Josh Morrissey said."
"They’re a really good team over there and a team that’s had a great start. For us, we gave ourselves a chance to win. It was a great, gutsy effort for us, considering the last couple of games that we didn’t really like the full 60 minutes.
"We would have liked two points, obviously, but I was pretty proud of the way we battled."
Compounding the struggle for the Central Division squad was a third-period, lower-body injury to defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. Jets head coach Paul Maurice elected to go with four blue-liners the rest of the way, leaving Ben Chiarot at the end of the bench.
There was no update on Byfuglien’s condition after the contest.
Nikolaj Ehlers, with his 13th of the year for the Jets, and Nikita Kucherov, with his team-leading 20th for Tampa Bay, traded third-period goals.
Jets winger Patrik Laine picked up his ninth point in the last five games on Ehlers’ individual effort. Stamkos assisted on Kucherov’s marker and holds a one-point lead over his linemate in the NHL scoring race.
Andrew Copp opened the scoring early for Winnipeg. Copp hit a post less than two minutes into the game, Thursday in Sunrise, Fla., against the Panthers, but sharpened his accuracy with a slick shot that beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy high to the blocker side.
Kyle Connor scored his 10th, while captain Blake Wheeler earned an assist on the play, his 30th, as the Jets drew even 2-2 through two periods. Wheeler has 38 points to move into third spot in league scoring, although there were late games still going on.
Wheeler gave credit to the overly taxed defensive pairs of Morrissey/Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers/Dmitry Kulikov for a clutch third period.
"They did a great job... That’s a team that if you give time and space, they’re going to make you pay for it," Wheeler said. "I thought, for the most part, we were in their face and didn’t allow them to get many chances off the rush, if any.
"Those guys have been doing a job for us all year and dug deep tonight."
Yanni Gourde and Mikhail Sergachev also scored for the high-powered Atlantic Division team.
Injured netminder Steve Mason rejoined the usual cast of characters wearing Jets practice jerseys several hours before the team faced the Lightning. He participated in most drills and took dozens of shots, sharing the work with No. 1 goalie Hellebuyck and fill-in backup Eric Comrie, who was between the pipes on Thursday as the Jets got thumped 6-4 by the Florida Panthers.
Maurice confirmed Mason passed all concussion testing requirements and could be removed from the injured-reserve list within days.
"He’s been working hard for a week and, to be honest, for us, he said he felt fine for a week. He passed his test," Maurice said Saturday. "There won’t be any turnaround time on him now."
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 11:28 PM CST: Write through
December 10, 2017 at 9:14 AM: breaks up paragraph