WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — The resurgent Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to let up now.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored two goals and added an assist as Winnipeg jumped up in the Eastern Conference standings from ninth place to third with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
Tanner Glass and Dustin Byfuglien also scored as the Jets (30-26-7) vaulted into first place in the Southeast Division with 67 points. Their leap was helped by Toronto’s loss to San Jose and Minnesota’s shootout win over Florida earlier Thursday.
Article continues below ...
“We understand we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Ladd said. “There’s teams that have games in hand on us. We’re going to have to keep playing the way we are and keep winning.”
Winnipeg has played more games than any of its Southeast Division opponents, including four more than Florida.
“We can’t sit back and take a photo and say, `Hey, we’re all set,'” said Blake Wheeler, who had two assists. “It’s going to take this kind of hockey for the next 19 games to make the playoffs.
“If we let our foot off the gas even one bit, we’re not going to make it.”
Steven Stamkos scored his 43rd goal and added a pair of assists for the Lightning (27-27-6). Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis also scored in the third period, and Purcell added two assists.
The Lightning scored three goals in the third period, but their three-game winning streak was snapped.
Jets coach Claude Noel said he wasn’t going to focus on those late goals because his team showed it could bounce back, losing 5-4 in overtime to Philadelphia on Tuesday. He won’t get caught patting his players on the back, though.
“We’re not going to separate our shoulders being first in the division,” Noel said.
Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec stopped 22 shots.
Mathieu Garon started in net for Tampa Bay, but was replaced by Dwayne Roloson at 2:48 of the second after giving up his fourth goal on 18 shots. Roloson stopped all 16 shots he faced.
Ladd started the scoring at 7:11 of the first period when he took a pass from Bryan Little in the high slot and put a shot above Garon’s blocker.
It was Ladd’s 20th goal of the season and extended his point streak to four games.
Glass made it 2-0 for Winnipeg at 14:59 of the first when he poked the puck in during a scramble in front of Garon. It was Glass’ career-high fifth goal of the season. He had four in the 2009-10 season.
A pair of goals 72 seconds apart in the second period by Ladd and Byfuglien widened the gap 4-0 and sent Garon to the bench.
“They came out a lot more desperate than we did, that’s for sure,” St. Louis said. “We’re down two, and then we start the second in the box and they scored. They got four goals, and that is tough to come back from.”
Ladd tipped in Evander Kane’s shot at 1:36 while Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was in the penalty box for delay of game. Byfuglien’s shot from the point at 2:48 went in nine seconds after Tampa’s Ryan Malone was sent off because of interference.
Stamkos spoiled Pavelec’s shutout bid after Kane was called for slashing. It was Tampa Bay’s fourth power play of the night. The Lightning went 2 for 5 on the advantage. Winnipeg was 2 for 3.
Stamkos scored at 11:00, giving him goals in four straight games. Purcell scored at 19:06, and St. Louis added a goal from a sharp angle on the power play with 9 seconds left.
Wheeler assisted on Ladd and Byfuglien’s goals, giving him points in five consecutive games. He has one goal and 10 assists in the streak.
Winnipeg is 3-1 in the season series.
“I guess we are allergic to this place,” Tampa coach Guy Boucher said. “We have had our worst two games of the year here. We didn’t start very well, and they started strong. We had two great scoring chances right off the bat, one an empty net.
“I think we looked tight in the first and the second period.”
NOTES: Jets D Zach Bogosian missed his fifth straight game (upper body). … Tampa Bay was without Vincent Lecavalier, who injured a hand on Saturday.