The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly played well enough to earn two points on Thursday night.
But getting just one instead wasn’t a bad alternative either.
The loss snapped Tampa Bay’s season-high five-game winning streak, while Winnipeg won for the second straight time past regulation.
“We gained another point,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said.“That’s how we look at it. We played a good game and we didn’t give them much.”
Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg and Kyle Wellwood added the game-winning goal for the Jets, which got a 30-save performance from Ondrej Pavelec.
With Winnipeg clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the game, Hedman rushed down the ice and erased the one-goal deficit at 10:34 of the final period after taking a nifty neutral-zone touch pass from Martin St. Louis and wristing one beneath Pavelec’s arm from the low left circle to send the contest into overtime.
It was the Lightning defenseman’s first goal since Oct. 22, snapping a 25-game goal-less drought, while St. Louis now has 10 assists and 13 points during an eight-game point streak.
“They got a little momentum there in the third period,” Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said. “It was anyone’s game until the end.”
Wellwood notched the game-winner 3:14 into the extra period, scoring from in close after taking a pass from Wheeler at the left circle.
The goal snapped Tampa Bay’s streak of seven straight wins at home against the Jets/Thrashers franchise dating back to the team's days in Atlanta.
Garon fell to 5-0-1 in his career against Thursday’s opponent. “In the end,” Garon said, “they played a good game and they beat us.”
Both goaltenders dueled early to start the contest, with Garon making a spectacular pad save on a shot by Bryan Little from the low slot, while Pavelec had a similar stop on an in-close shot from NHL goals leader Steven Stamkos during a scoreless first.
Stamkos then hit the outside of the post on the rebound after Pavelec stopped St. Louis’ shot midway through the second, in which the Lightning outshot Winnipeg 15-7.
Wheeler notched the game’s first goal in the final minute of the second, converting a rebound that came off Garon’s pad after an initial stop on a point shot from Jim Slater.
Tampa Bay now sits 11th in the Eastern Conference, nine points back of Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot with 49 points.
“We played a good enough game to get two points,” Hedman said. “Matty definitely kept us in there with a couple saves of the game, but we got one point. We can’t bear ourselves down, we just have to move forward.”
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