Paul Statstny scores twice as Jets beat Tampa Bay 7-4
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Paul Statstny scored twice to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Mark Scheifele had a goal and three assists, and Josh Morrissey, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Adam Lowry also scored for Winnipeg, which improved to 25-22-10. Stastny and Kyle Connor scored into empty nets late. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 20 of 24 shots. Blake Wheeler recorded his 500th and 501st assists as a member of the Jets/Thrashers franchise.
“We have guys in the right spots,” Scheifele said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We’ve found some consistency being in the right spots. Our D were moving really well tonight. That opens up seams, that opens up other guys and gets them on the run, so I liked that part of it. I think we have to see more of that.
“When you have our team making plays and making passes and getting O-zone time, you know, we’re a pretty dangerous team and we need more of that.”
Russ Colton, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Ryan McDonagh scored for Tampa Bay. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves on 33 shots.
“Take out the three goals we gave up, I thought we did a lot of really good things in the first period,” said Jets coach Dave Lowry. “We created the way we wanted to.”
Connor gave Winnipeg a two-goal margin with a short-handed goal at 8:12 of the third period. Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev lost the puck when he fell. Connor picked it up and deked Vasilevsky, scoring unassisted and increasing the lead to 5-3.
“It was really nice,” Scheifele said. “He’s a pretty good player, as I’m sure you guys have seen. It was a big goal. To go up two on those guys is huge. I don’t think there’s any guy we trust more on a breakaway than this guy (Connor) right here.”
After the teams had skated to a scoreless second period, Dubois scored a power-play goal at 7:25 to give the Jets a 4-3 lead. Dubois pounced on a Connor rebound. Morrissey also assisted.
The Lightning rebounded from a 3-1 deficit in the first period by scoring goals 1:24 apart. That knotted the score at 3-all heading into the second. Killorn scored at 16:01 after being set up alone in front of Hellebuyck by forward Corey Perry. Steven Stamkos also assisted. Hedman then scored the tying goal at 17:35 with a high wrist shot that beat Hellebuyck. Forwards Nikita Kucherov and Anthony Cirelli assisted.
“How many times now in a row have we started behind in a game, having to claw ourselves back?” McDonagh said. “It’s not ideal and it’s not winning hockey. We need to, obviously, individually look at ourselves, change it up and do something different to get ourselves mentally engaged, playing with some pace and playing with some determination to start a game. At least not give ourselves a hole to climb out of.”
Despite their lofty record, the Lightning have been frustrated lately.
“We’re the contenders and when you’re the contenders, you’re going to get everyone’s best and we’re starting to see that now,” veteran Pat Maroon said. “We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves out of this. We’re a good hockey team, we know that. ... The only player that’s been putting it together is (Vasilevskiy). I believe in the guys. One shift, one game and take it from there … We’ll get out of this.”
Stastny had given the Jets a 3-1 lead when he took a nifty pass from defenseman Neal Pionk, and his shot barely got by Vasilevskiy. Scheifele also assisted.
McDonagh pulled the Lightning within 2-1 when he converted a 2-on-1 with Mathieu Joseph at 11:50. Mathieu had intercepted an attempted pass by Dubois to create the 2-on-1.
The Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the opening period with goals just 1:52 apart. Lowry quickly put a Brenden Dillon rebound past Vasilevskiy at 6:11. Forward Nikolaj Ehlers also assisted.
Scheifele had opened the scoring at 4:19 when he took advantage of a Logan Stanley rebound and backhanded the puck past Vasilevskiy. Nate Schmidt also assisted.
Tampa Bay: At Calgary Flames on Thursday in the third game of a six-game trip.
Winnipeg: At New Jersey Devils on Thursday in the first of a three-game trip.
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