(SportsNetwork.com) – The Winnipeg Jets broke through with their first home
win of the season the last time out and hope to make it two straight when they
welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning for Friday’s battle at MTS Centre.
The Jets opened 2014-15 with a road win over Arizona before losing their next
four games, including the first two tests of their current five-game
Winnipeg was able to take advantage of winless Carolina on Tuesday, notching
a 3-1 decision over the Hurricanes to improve to 2-4-0 this season.
Andrew Ladd and Adam Lowry recorded first-period goals to help the Jets down
Carolina. Jiri Tlusty tallied the Hurricanes’ lone goal before the end of 20
minutes, but Dustin Byfuglien completed the scoring with his second marker of
the season late in the second period.
Ondrej Pavelec made 22 saves to earn the win. He expects to start again
tonight and is 7-6-6 with a 2.92 goals against average in 20 career games
against the Lightning.
The Jets, who are averaging a dismal 1.83 goals per game this season, could
receive an offensive boost soon from the impending return of forward Evander
Kane. The 23-year-old winger sprained his right knee in a collision with
teammate Mark Scheifele in the season opener and expects to resume skating
activities this weekend. However, there is still not timetable for Kane’s
return to game action.
Tampa Bay has alternated wins and losses since opening the season with a
victory over Florida and the same pattern holds true so far on the club’s
current five-game road trip. The Lightning kicked off their swing with a 4-2
win in Vancouver before losing Monday in Edmonton. However, the Bolts
rebounded with Tuesday’s triumph in Calgary, posting a 2-1 overtime victory
against the Flames.
Ondrej Palat scored Tuesday’s game-winner goal three minutes into overtime
after Valtteri Filppula tied the game for the Bolts with 2:16 left in
regulation. On the winning marker, defenseman Anton Stralman drove a right
point slap shot on net and Palat lifted his backhand past Karri Ramo for the
Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves for the Lightning, while Jonathan Drouin, the
third-overall pick in 2013, notched an assist for his first career point in
his second game.
Tampa expects to start No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop tonight. He is winless
(0-1-1) with a 1.94 GAA and .945 save percentage in two career games versus
Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas could return to action tonight after sitting
out the last four games with a lower body injury. Forwards Ryan Callahan
(lower body) and Alex Killorn (upper body) expect to miss Friday’s tilt.
Winnipeg and the Lightning split two encounters in 2013-14, with each club
winning a game on the road. The Jets have won seven of the last 11 meetings in
this series, dating back to when they were still known as the Atlanta
Thrashers. Tampa is 2-3-1 in Winnipeg since the Jets relocated from Atlanta
following the 2010-11 season.
The Lightning will complete their road trip tomorrow in Minnesota, while
Winnipeg wraps its stay at MTS Centre in Sunday’s meeting versus Colorado.