TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Lightning appeared to have struck up consistency and chemistry within their lines, but that didn’t stop coach Cooper from still shuffling up his lines and creating some other interesting match-ups. Saturday’s lines against the Winnipeg Jets were as is:
Coach Cooper after the game said that he wasn’t too happy with how the first few shifts went in the game, but things started to pick up once the guys found their legs. Indeed, the first few shifts weren’t looking too strong, creating opportunity for Winnipeg to get on the board first and control most of the first period. The Jets were predominantly winning face-offs which they would capitalized throughout the game, but the Lightning took control of the game in the second period.
Although the Bolts SOG (56%) were strong, their finishing percentage struggled. Halfway through the game the Bolts began to pick up some momentum. Their penalty kills were managed quite well throughout the game, but there was still an unfortunate amount of penalties accounted for against them. The costly one was the delay of game penalty, when Coach Cooper challenged for a high sticking call on Nikolaj Ehlers seconds before Jack Roslovic connected down the center with Andrew Coop for a goal. Ehlers played at a pretty unstoppable pace; he needed to be marked a bit more aggressively, but he has consistently produced, given his 7 goals in 9 games against the Lightning.
Aside from the trouble Ehlers created for the Bolts, this game was really won by Winnipeg’s goalie Hellebuyck and his 31 saves. One of the biggest saves of the night was a shot from Ondrej Palat that could have swung the game into overtime with Cirelli’s goal 22 seconds before the end of the third period. Statistically, the Lightning should have won this match-up, but the Jets did just enough to take this win.
On a positive note, Bolts’ captain Steven Stamkos scored his 400th career goal versus the Jets, making franchise history with the Lightning organization and of course hitting a personal career benchmark. Cooper praised Stamkos’s accomplishment by saying that “many players don’t even get to play 400 games in this league, so to reach 400 goals says a lot.” Tampa Bay will head back on the road to face the St. Louis Blues, Tuesday night at 8pm.
Kasey Hudson is the Sports Associate Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org