Jets 3, Lightning 2

Jason Bell, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg center Bryan Little had a big game, scoring a goal and setting up another to spark the Jets to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in NHL play Sunday night.
Little opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season in the first period and then created a turnover that led to Dustin Byfuglien's power-play goal early in the middle period as the Jets (17-14-2) increased their lead over the idle Carolina Hurricanes to four points atop the Southeast Division.
Little nearly scored his second early in the third when he stripped the puck from Lightning forward Teddy Purcell and raced in on a shorthanded breakaway but was stopped by goalie Cedrick Desjardins.
Toby Enstrom, who returned to the lineup after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury, also scored for Winnipeg, his third of the season.
Steven Stamkos ripped his 22nd goal of the year for Tampa Bay, while Cory Conacher notched his ninth.
Winnipeg led 1-0 and 3-1 at the period breaks.
Ondrej Pavelec stopped 23 shots in goal for the winners, while Desjardins made 21 saves.
The Jets, third in the Eastern Conference, play the Hurricanes on Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C.
Winnipeg was coming off a two-game losing skid after a pair of dismal efforts late last week at home against the Washington Capitals.
The Lightning (13-16-1), next to last in the conference, fired head coach Guy Boucher after a 5-3 defeat to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, although the news didn't break until Sunday morning. The team was coached by committee Sunday night, with Steve Thomas, Dan Lacroix and Martin Raymond behind the bench. Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman could name a new head coach as early as Monday.
"I'm hopeful I can get something in place as quickly as possible," Yzerman said on Sunday afternoon from a downtown Winnipeg hotel.
Yzerman hired Boucher in 2010, and the move paid off immediately when he led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final in 2011. But the club failed to make the postseason during the 2011-12 campaign and isn't expected to reach the playoffs this spring, currently occupying 14th spot in the conference.
Some heavy lifting deep in the Bolts' zone paid off for the Jets' top line as Little scored off the cycle at 14:02 of the first period.
The Jets increased their lead when Byfuglien scored on the power-play just 2:35 into the middle frame when he slapped a shot past Desjardins.
But with Chris Thornburn in the penalty box, Tampa Bay cut the lead in half when Stamkos blasted a shot past Pavelec just seven seconds into the power play.
Enstrom, playing his first game since Feb. 21, crept in from the blue line and beat Desjardins at 9:35 of the second period with the clubs playing four-on-four to give the hosts a 3-1 lead.
Conacher scored at 5:01 of the third period, but the Lightning would get no closer.
NOTES: The Jets head out on a two-game road trip, with stops in Carolina and Pittsburgh. The Lightning, meanwhile, head home to face Buffalo, New Jersey and Florida. ... For a club mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the Lightning sure can shoot. They ranked first in the NHL in team shooting percentage (12.24) coming into the game. ... the Jets were without a pair of Top-6 blueliners, Mark Stuart and Ron Hainsey, injured during back-to-back games with the Capitals on Thursday and Friday. Both are listed as day to day. ... Winnipeg center Olli Jokinen was third-worst in the NHL with a minus-15 plus-minus rating prior to Sunday's play, 772nd out of 774 players, to be exact. ... The last time the Lightning played in Winnipeg, Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the 2011-12 campaign in the season finale for both teams. ... Winnipeg forward Evander Kane is the only player in the NHL with over 100 hits and 100 shots on goal.

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