By Geoff Kirbyson
WINNIPEG -- There's the easy way and the way the Winnipeg Jets did it Tuesday night.
Entering the third period with a 3-1 lead, the Jets gave up a pair of goals and had to eke out a shootout win over when their captain Andrew Ladd scored the winner.
It wasn't technically a hat trick - Ladd scored a pair during the game - but Jets fans will take it.
The victory was the Jets' 22nd of the season, giving them 46 points on the season, tied for the eighth and final playoff position with the New York Rangers, who lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 earlier in the evening. The Jets have five games remaining, one less than the Rangers.
It was just the third shootout of the season for the Jets and their second win. It was the fourth for the Lightning, who fell to 1-3.
The Jets got the start they wanted when Bryan Little stripped Eric Brewer at the Lightning blueline and started a three-on-two. Andrew Ladd converted Blake Wheeler's pass for his team-leading 17th of the year at 1:23 of the first period.
Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey deserved an assist on the next goal, but the NHL doesn't award assists for helping the opponent score. His attempted clearing pass from behind his net could hardly have been teed up better for Martin St. Louis, whose one-timer beat an unsuspecting Ondrej Pavelec for his 12th of the season.
The first powerplay of the game didn't come until six minutes into the second period, when Jets centre Olli Jokinen was nabbed for hooking Steven Stamkos.
Zach Bogosian likely saved a goal when he picked off a pass intended for Stamkos standing alone at the side of the net.
The Jets took a 2-1 lead midway through the second after Ladd outworked Victor Hedman along the boards and passed to Wheeler who outwaited Ben Bishop so long he was practically in the corner when he took his shot. It was Wheeler's 16th goal of the year.
The Jets looked to have taken a 3-1 lead when Grant Clitsome's slapshot beat Bishop at 13:02 but it was waved off because Ladd had was ruled to have made contact with Bishop. Replays showed he didn't, prompting several minutes of unhappy chants from the sellout crowd of 15,003.
Ladd took control of the situation when he took a pass from Wheeler and snapped one by Bishop from the top of the circle, giving the Jets a 3-1 lead. For real.
The Lightning pulled to within one with 14:41 left to go in the third when former Manitoba Moose Pierre-Cedric Labrie banged home a loose puck during a scramble in front of Pavelec.
Stamkos tied the game up with his 27th of the season on a snapshot from the top of the circle with less than nine minutes to go in the third.
NOTES: With their 7-2 victory over Florida on April 11, the Jets marked their fourth three-game winning streak of the season. They do not have a single four-game winning streak this year. ... Since relocating from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 season, the Jets have yet to have a single player record a hat trick. ... Lightning winger Steven Stamkos has 26 goals on the season, good for second place in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy, trailing Alexander Ovechkin's 27. ... If the Lightning's defense was as good as their offense, they're likely be firmly ensconced in a playoff spot. They rank third in the NHL in goals scored, with a 3.14 per game average, or 131 overall. ... Press box seats were at a premium for Jets players not in the lineup tonight. Forwards Nik Antropov and Anthony Peluso and defenseman Tobias Enstrom are out with injuries. Rearguards Derek Meech, Jacob Trouba and Arturs Kulda and winger Antti Miettinen were healthy scratches. ... The only Lightning player not in the lineup was centre Tom Pyatt.