TAMPA, Fla. – It was the “tale of two teams,” according to head coach Jon Cooper in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“There was a clear distinction between the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes,” Cooper said. “In the last 30 minutes we got everybody involved, we were shooting pucks from everywhere and we had ample chances to win in regulation and one chance in overtime and we didn’t.”
Taking just five shots after the first period, the Tampa Bay Lightning added 24 over the next two, including a tally. Yet it was not enough to get over the hump and walk away with two points, as the Lightning felt they could have done more in beginning to set themselves up for success in the end.
“It’s frustrating because I think we can generate a lot more,” Nate Thompson said. “We have the guys who can step up and do it; it’s just a matter of having that shooter mentality. When you have that shooter mentality other things open up.”
Despite what the team backed as an outstanding performance by Anders Lindback, the goaltender suffered his sixth loss of the season, stopping 34 of 36 shots.
“It’s just too bad we couldn’t get the win for him,” Thompson said.
The Jets were first to strike at 5:25 of the first period. Grant Clitsome passed the puck along the blue line to Jacob Trouba. Trouba then sent a shot into traffic, which Blake Wheeler was able to redirect past Lindback for the early 1-0 lead against the Bolts.
Before the end of the frame, Andrej Sustr took a hard shot from the blue line toward Thompson, who was setup right in front of Al Montoya. Thompson tried to redirect the puck in, but the Winnipeg netminder came up with the save.
Finally building some steam in the last two minutes of the second, the Lightning managed to capitalize on the momentum. With two seconds left in the period, Martin St. Louis won the ensuing draw in the left circle of the Jets’ zone after Thompson had been kicked out of the faceoff. The puck made its way to Radko Gudas and then quickly to Thompson, who deflected it by Montoya for a 1-1 tie with 1.1 seconds to spare in the period.
“I was actually a little mad when I got kicked out of the faceoff circle, but it ended up working out for me,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s tally was his first since October 24 and only his second marker of the year, while St. Louis’ assist put his point streak versus Winnipeg at six straight games.
Alex Killorn nearly clinched the win in the extra frame when his breakaway shot hit the post, but the game took an unfortunate turn. The Jets brought the puck back down into the offensive zone and Mark Scheifele tallied the overtime game-winner at 1:04.
UP NEXT – After an off day Sunday, Tampa Bay will practice at the Times Forum Monday morning. They will then embark on a trip to the nation’s capital to visit the Washington Capitals for the first time this season at the Verizon Center. It is also the start of a stretch that features four out of five games away from the Times Forum.