TAMPA BAY TIMES FORUM – TAMPA, FL. – Steven Stamkos scored just 45 seconds into overtime to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 Saturday night. It was Stammer’s 5th overtime goal of the season setting a new NHL record.
Unfortunately for both teams, just minutes after Stamko’s goal, the Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout, eliminating both the Lightning and the Jets from playoff contention.
Newly signed J.T Brown made his NHL debut and saw action on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone on his first shift. Brown’s first career shot was a good one at 2:45 when he took a pass from Malone who was in back of the goal line. Brown, in the slot, let a sharp wrister go that forced Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec to make a strong save to keep the game scoreless. the 21 year old just signed with the Lightning this week after his season at the University of Minnesota Duluth ended. He had 84 points in 81 career games there.
Late in the period Ryan Malone got Tampa Bay on the board with a highlight reel goal. Coming into the neutral zone carrying the puck, he flipped it over the head of the Winnipeg defenseman and turned on the speed to beat the defender to the puck at the Jets blue line. Malone walked in alone on Pavelec and deked him backhand to forehand and tucked it into the left side of the net at 15:37 for a 1-0 Lightning lead. It was Malone’s 19th goal of the season.
Antti Miettinen tied the game at 1-1 with his 5th goal of the season when Tampa Bay could not get the puck out of their zone. Evander Kane ended up behind the Lightning net with the puck and fired a turnaround pass out into the slot that Miettinen fired over Sebastien Caron’s right shoulder at 6:20. Caron made his first start as a member of the Lightning.
Just over 3 minutes later Kyle Wellwood put the Jets in front 2-1 when he fired home a big rebound left by Caron for his 18th goal of the year at 9:28. Dustin Byfuglien blasted a slap shot from the right point that Caron came out to kick away high in the crease. But the rebound came right to Wellwood and Caron could not get back to stop the puck from going into the net. Tim Stapleton was credited with the second assist.
The Lightning came out flying in the third period with their skates, sticks and fists. Tampa Bay out shot Winnipeg in the third period 21-7 and 39-28 for the game. They were all over the ice and completely dominated the game after the first 40 minutes.
At :44 Ryan Malone and Ron Hainsey dropped their gloves to do battle. Hainsey had levelled Martin St. Louis from behind in the second period. He was given a penalty on the play for cross checking and he and Malone exchanged words then. But they waited until the next period to settle things.
Tampa Bay was peppering Olej Pavelec with shots but could not get one past him. At one point Winnipeg took 3 consecutive penalties giving the Lightning a pair of two man advantages. One of 11 seconds and one of 17 seconds. But Pavelec stood strong. Finally at 7:45 Ryan Malone cracked the wall and tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal, his second goal of the game and 20th of the season. The Jets were trying to clear the zone up the middle of the ice but Victor Hedman picked off the attempt and set up Teddy Purcell for a one timer from the left circle. Pavelec made the initial save but Malone was right there to put home the rebound.
Less than a minute later things got physical between the teams when Andrew Ladd crosschecked Eric brewer from behind. A group of players got together in the corner to discuss their opinions of the move. With a linesman standing between Ladd and Victor Hedman, and another Jets player holding one of Hedman’s arms, Ladd started throwing punches at him. A fight ensued between the two and Ladd ended up getting an extra 2 minutes of penalty time when all was finally broken up.
Both teams had golden opportunities near the end of regulation to take the lead but both goalies were very solid. With 4:34 left Stamkos raced in on a breakaway from center ice only to have Pavelec make a nice body save. Two minutes later Sebastien Caron equalled him when he robbed Bryan Little on the doorstep. Little was fed a pass from behind the Lightning net and had a point blank chance.
As overtime started the Lightning threw the puck down into the Winnipeg zone and there was some confusion on the part of the Jets as to whether or not icing should have been called. Play continued and Brian Lee ended up with the puck just inside the blue line. A sellout crowd of 19,204 was electrified when Lee fed a perfect pass for a one timer to Stamkos who fired home his 56th goal of the season for the Lightning victory.
NOTES: Mike Commodore, Bruno Gervais and Trevor Smith were healthy scratches…..J.T. Brown’s father, Ted Brown attended the game with his wife. Brown was a running back in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings from 1979-1986. When he graduated from N.C State he was the ACC’s all time leading rusher…..Nate Thompson returned to the lineup after missing 7 games…..The Jets lead the season series 3-2. The teams meet again in Winnipeg next week…..The Lightning are 24-14-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum…..Tampa Bay is now 12-7 in overtime…..The Three Stars of the Game were 1. Ryan Malone, 2. Olej Pavelec, 3. Sebastien Caron.
Ray Blanchette covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for Outside The Redzone. He also covers NCAA football for the Saturday Blitz. Follow along at www.saturdayblitz.com. Blanchette is the owner of Blanchette Sports Holdings, a new sporting company that will operate 8 different sports leagues. Follow along with them at www.blanchettesportsholdings.weebly.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003521034703&sk=wall or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/BlanchettSports