It seems as though every visit for the Tampa Bay Lightning to the MTS Centre is an interesting one. Fans of the Winnipeg Jets are highly passionate and extremely enthusiastic, creating an atmosphere that, in my mind, matches no other NHL arena. The taunting of goalie Ben Bishop or superstar Steven Stamkos by the crowd is something that is somewhat unique to the MTS Centre. Jets fans seem to be attempting will their team into a playoff spot. Of course, in the end, no matter how amazing the atmosphere seems on television, I am a Lightning fan.
The game started with a bang for the Jets, which has become a pattern in games against any team on the road for the Lightning. A giveaway by Eric Brewer in the neutral zone led to a 3-on-2 rush for the Jets. Andrew Ladd received the puck in the slot and let go of a wrist shot that Bishop probably should have been able to stop. However, it found its way past the net minder and the score was 1-0 Jets early in the first period. The Lightning were gifted a goal when Ron Hainsey retrieved the puck behind his net that was dumped in by Victor Hedman. Hainsey blindly backhanded the puck onto the stick of Martin St. Louis, who one-timed the puck past Ondrej Pavelec.
About midway through the second period, Ladd beat Hedman in a battle for the puck against the boards. Ladd was then able to make a pass to Blake Wheeler. Wheeler made a move around a spinning Radko Gudas, then out-waited Bishop and ripped a wrist shot into the net for a 2-1 lead. Near the end of the period, with the Jets on the power play, Ladd took a quick shot that looked to have glanced off the skate of Keith Aulie. Bishop could not keep up with the slight change in direction, and the Jets took a 3-1 lead into the third period.
The Lightning seem to always figure out a way to come back when down in the third period. It started just over 5 minutes into the period, when Nate Thompson avoided a hip check from Grant Clitsome. Thompson drove to the net with the puck, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie tapped the puck into the net off of Jets’ defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. 6 minutes later, Stamkos was sprung into the zone by Matthew Carle and found space to shoot. He picked a corner and fired it past Pavelec for the 3-3 tie.
The rest of regulation would be mostly uneventful. The game remained tied and headed into overtime. Bishop made some phenomenal saves to keep the Lightning in the game. Neither team would score, and the game would go to a shootout. Mike Santorelli and Ladd would both score on Bishop while Teddy Purcell and Richard Panik were both stopped by Pavelec. The Jets would escape with 2 points, while the Lightning once again came from behind to earn just one point.
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