TAMPA — In a tale of two games within on Saturday, the Lightning lost the first half, won the second half only to secure half of the two available points.
Mark Scheifele scored 1:06 into overtime, out battling Mark Barberio in the front of the net to tip in a Blake Wheeler pass, to lift Winnipeg to a 2-1 victory in front of an announced crowd of 18,354 at The Forum. The winning goal came 20 seconds after Alex Killorn had a shot go off the inside of the post and trickle across the crease.
“I thought it went in, but it just rolled behind him . . . I thought I had scored, so it’s frustrating,’’ Killorn said.
Anders Lindback stopped 34 shots to suffer the setback while Nate Thompson scored the only goal for Tampa Bay, which lost in overtime for the second consecutive time after going 6-0 in overtime to start the season.
Wheeler had the first goal for Winnipeg. Al Montoya stopped 28 shots, including all 12 in the third period to pick up the victory.
But it wasn’t the way the game ended which had the Lightning searching for answers, it was how the game started.
Tampa Bay had just five shots on goal in the first period and it took until the 12:08 mark in the second to reach 10 shots. The Jets, by comparison, had 27 shots on goal at the time Eric Brewer sent in a 54-foot slap shot for the 10th Tampa Bay shot of the night. And for a team that has scored one or zero goals in four of the past six games, getting pucks on net wouldn’t seem to be an issue.
“Nine shots through 31 minutes . . . and it’s not like we didn’t have our legs, we didn’t shoot pucks,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “So when you only play 130 feet of the ice, and you just want to sit there and play keep-away, not shoot pucks, it’s not going to work for you.’’
While Tampa Bay wasn’t shooting, the Jets were shooting from everywhere, peppering Lindback with long range shots through traffic as much as possible. That was the cause of Winnipeg’s first goal as Jacob Trouba fired a shot from the right point that was deflected by Wheeler in the low slot area and over Lindback 5:25 into the game.
Lindback, however, was able to keep Tampa Bay in the game stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced midway through the game. That’s when the Lightning started to turn up the tempo, win more battles for puck and started to generate some scoring chances.
But it wasn’t until late - about as late as it could be - in the second period before Tampa Bay found the tying goal.
After Radko Gudas hustled down ice to gain an icing call with 2.6 seconds left, Thompson was kicked out of the faceoff dot on the ensuing draw. Marty St. Louis then took the faceoff, won it back to Gudas who put a puck toward the net that Thompson was able to get a whack at and put it past Montoya with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, though after review the goal officially came with 1.1 seconds remaining.
“I was actually a little mad when I got kicked out of the faceoff circle, but it worked out for me,’’ Thompson said.
But it didn’t work out for Tampa Bay the rest of the game. Despite outshooting the Jets 12-6 in the third period, and generating several quality scoring opportunities the Lightning did not capitalize on the momentum of the last-second goal from the second period to find the go-ahead marker.
“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. Even the ones we missed, we missed a boatload and it was the difference in the game.
“It was a tale of two games. I thought we had ample chances to win the game in regulation and obviously one chance in overtime and we didn’t. ... . It all came down to shooting pucks and we just didn’t. We just didn’t shoot enough in the first 30 minutes of the game.”