The two Southeast Division clubs face off in the fourth of six meetings on the year. After the Lightning took the opening matchup of the season back on Oct. 29, the Jets won each of the next two contests, earning victories on Nov. 14 and Feb. 2.
The Big Story:
The Lightning have won three straight and sit just five points out of not only the final playoff spot in the East, but the Southeast Division lead, too. Winnipeg, meanwhile, is tied with both Florida for first in the Southeast Division, and Toronto for eighth in the Eastern Conference, but don't hold the tiebreaker with either club, as it enters Thursday contest currently sitting in ninth place.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay kicks off a three-game road trip beginning Thursday that wraps up with back-to-back finale over the weekend against Pittsburgh and New Jersey, respectively. The Bolts have won three straight games, with each of those victories coming just hours after the team traded one of its marquee players. The latest incident occurred Tuesday, when Tampa Bay earned a 3-2 victory over the Ducks not long after forward Steve Downie was dealt to Colorado. Teddy Purcell
and Steven Stamkos
each had three points in the Lightning win over Anaheim, with Stamkos extending his NHL goal-scoring lead to 42. Mathieu Garon
also stopped all but two shots faced on the night to help the Lightning inch closer to the East’s final playoff spot, while also snapping Anaheim’s season-long points streak at nine games.
JETS – Winnipeg’s eight-game home stand continues on Thursday as it hosts the Lightning for the second of three meetings at the MTS Centre this season. The Jets come in ninth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, although the team finds itself tied with Toronto, currently eighth, with 65 points. Winnipeg has been taking care of its own business to make a return to the postseason after 11 seasons, earning victories in three of its past four. The club saw its three-game win streak come to an end on Tuesday, but still managed to get a point following a 5-4 overtime loss to the Flyers. The two teams matched goal totals in each period, as the Jets even scored three times throughout the night with the man advantage. Andrew Ladd had two goals, Dustin Byfuglien scored, and Evander Kane lit the lamp to take a 4-4 game into overtime before Jaromir Jagr won it for the Flyers with 44 seconds remaining in the extra session.
has points in three straight games, recording five goals and eight points in that span, while Teddy Purcell
has two goals and nine assists in his past eight games. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec posts a 2-0-1 record in his past three starts, with an average of 37 saves in that span for his club.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund
(knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(ACL, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, day-to-day) and Vincent Lecavalier
(non-displaced hand fracture, out indefinitely).
JETS – Zach Bogosian (foot).
“Right now, it's just keep on pushing and finding ways with the players that have been brought up. That's what we've been doing for a while and I think we take pride in this. We’re doing it under difficult circumstances.” –Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on his team’s recent success and playoff push despite the recent off-ice trades of three of the team’s players
Current Jets defenseman Randy Jones appeared in a Lightning uniform last season, skating in 61 regular season games with the Bolts and an additional five postseason contests before signing with Winnipeg as a free agent. The Jets currently have forward Antti Miettinen as well, with who the Lightning agreed to terms before he was plucked off waivers by Winnipeg in early December.