The Lightning appeared to have struck up consistency and chemistry within their lines, but that did not 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. With that said, the first few shifts were not looking too strong, creating opportunity for Winnipeg to get on the board first and control most of the 1st period. The Jets were predominantly winning faceoffs which they would capitalize throughout the game, but once the 2nd period came about, the Lightning took control of the game.
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 through out the game, but there was still an unfortunate amount of penalties accounted for against the Bolts. The costly one being the delay of game penalty, when coach Cooper challenged for a high sticking call on Ehlers seconds before Jack Roslovic connected down the center with Andrew Coop for a goal. Nikolaj Ehlers played at a pretty unstoppable pace, he needed to be marked a bit more aggressively, but Ehlers has consistently produced seeing as he has had 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 3rd period. Statistically the Lightning should have won this match up, but The Jets did just enough to take this win.
On a positive note, Bolt’s 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.