Winnipeg Jets Outwork Tampa Bay Lightning in 3-1 Win

WINNIPEG, MB - JANUARY 30: Goaltender Michael Hutchinson
WINNIPEG, MB - JANUARY 30: Goaltender Michael Hutchinson /

The Winnipeg Jets welcomed the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night in a possible Stanley Cup preview. Jon Cooper’s Bolts are coming off a three-game win streak from before the All-Star break. While the Jets start their first of a 10 game homestand at Bell MTS Place.

The Lightning entered Winnipeg Jets territory off of an entertaining All-Star weekend in Tampa Bay. Victor Hedman would make a surprisingly early return from injury for the Bolts. However, his presence alone would not be enough to push the visiting team past Winnipeg.

Winnipeg had a +33 goal differential at Bell MTS Place as opposed to a surprising -5 on the road going into the game. The next 10 games will test mastery at home as they host some tough teams like St. Louis, Washington, & LA. A good start against the Lightning would really set this homestand up nicely and it sure did. The two teams played a tight yet entertaining game that showed why they were among the NHL’s elite this season.

Building a Wall

The Winnipeg Jets started off the game with the smart defensive play that would bring them success all night long. Dustin Byfuglien got the early first call on a high sticking penalty, but the Jets defense would not give Tampa Bay much room to set up. Michael Hutchinson would be able to see most of the shots he would face all game long allowing him to be in good position for almost all of the Lightning’s scoring chances. Good neutral zone work at the Jets blue line produced a large number of turnovers that sprung the Jets forwards. The Lightning would respond by trying to get behind the Jets defensive wall. Their best chances of the game came off of Yanni Gourde and Michael Peca doing just that. Winnipeg starter Michael Hutchinson, however, would prove up to the task.


With just over 30 seconds left in the 1st period, Brayden Point fed Matthew Peca who was sneaking in behind the defense. He would put a shot just under the corner crossbar over Hutchinson to send the lightning into the locker room with a 1-0 lead. Patrik Laine would respond in the second on a 5 on 3 with his patented one-timer from the top of the circle. Blake Wheeler would send a sweet pass from the right circle across to Laine who rifled it past Tampa goaltender Louis Domingue, tying the game.  Kyle Conner would get the Jets the lead off a rebound of his own shot from the slot skating around Domingue and putting it behind him. Bryan Little would seal it in the 3rd when he cleaned up another rebound in the crease off a Mathieu Perreault shot.

The Winnipeg Jets Bryan Little finally pots one in past Louis Domingue in the 3rd.
WINNIPEG, MB JANUARY 30: Winnipeg Jets forward Bryan Little (18) celebrates his goal during the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 30, 2018 at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg MB. (Photo by Terrence Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Michael Hutchinson

Hutch finally got the chance he has been working for all season long in the AHL with the Moose. While he played a decent game and made a few big saves to keep his team in it, he just did not come up as big as I expected him to be in this game. He made a few noticeable mistakes like boggling the puck off the boards in the 1st period only to be bailed out of an embarrassing goal by Andrew Copp. Then getting faked out of position in the 2nd. In general, he did not look like a confident NHL starting goaltender. Again, he played well, but this game was more than just about resting starter Connor Hellebuyck. This was supposed to be a statement game to the Jets brass by Hutchinson. Michael missed the level he needed to achieve in this game in order to do that.


The Jets played a good team defense game against one of the NHL’s top offenses and won. While both goaltenders played well Domingue’s rebound control would eventually cost his team the game. Winnipeg was able to get second chances and keep offensive pressure on due to his trouble absorbing the shots sent his way. In a tight game like this one was, this small difference was enough to tilt the edge toward the Jets who got the solid 3-1 win.

Whiteout’s Three Stars

The Jets Defense

Mostly solid with a few cracks when Tampa got behind them. Without Jacob Trouba they tightened up in front of Hutchinson and were key to this win. Great stick work stifled the Bolts playmaking and created turnovers. If any of us worried about this teams depth on defense, this was a statement game to address just that.

Lowry/Copp/Armia Line

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were kept mostly silent all night long due to this matchup. Stamkos was so frustrated at the end of the game he started clobbering people along the boards.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Next: Trouba Out With Ankle Injury

Bryan Little

What a game he had. Little would be in on most of the Jets scoring chances all game. He could have easily had 3 more assists. Bryan was sneaky fast and creative all night long. He would be rewarded at the end of the game on the Jets third goal. However, he deserves more and the one point he got on the score sheet. Easily the Jets best player of the night.