Jets-Lightning Preview

The Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Lighting followed an ugly stretch with a much-needed two points their last time out.

They might like their chances of building on that win against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Lightning return home looking to continue their recent domination of the Jets as these Southeast Division rivals square off Thursday night.

Leading the Eastern Conference with 3.5 goals per game, Tampa Bay (10-12-1) was limited to 10 during an 0-5-0 skid before picking up the pace Tuesday in the finale of a four-game road trip. Nate Thompson scored twice while Martin St. Louis and Alex Killorn each added a goal and an assist as the Lightning cruised past New Jersey 5-2.

"We really needed this one," said Thompson, who finished with a career-high three points. "We were desperate. We talked all day about doing the little things right.

"... You get a win like this and it can give us momentum moving forward. We just needed to get it going, relax, and play our game."

Anders Lindback made 25 saves and looked headed for his first shutout since 2010 before surrendering two goals with under seven minutes to play.

"I never want to let a shutout go, but the win was more important," said Lindback, who has gone 6-1-1 at home. "I can get a shutout another time. It was a huge game for us. We've been on a tough road trip and just been struggling. We showed all game that we're a better team than we have been playing."

Tampa Bay hasn't had much difficulty versus the Jets franchise of late. The Lightning are on a 15-2-1 run in the series, including 9-0-1 in Tampa, and they rolled to an 8-3 home victory Feb. 1 in the only meeting this season.

That's the most goals the Lightning have scored in a game since Feb. 23, 2011. Centers Cory Conacher, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos combined for four goals and five assists.

Stamkos, who has a league-high 17 goals, had scored 10 with seven assists during a 10-game point streak before getting held off the scoresheet Tuesday. The Ontario native has nine goals and eight assists during a 10-game streak versus Winnipeg, and his 38 points in 25 career matchups are by far his most against any team.

The Jets (10-11-1) had won three straight and five of six before failing to get much going in their last two games. Three days after losing 3-0 to Washington, Winnipeg fell 4-1 at Florida on Tuesday.

Kyle Wellwood provided all the offense with his first goal, and the Jets failed to draw a penalty for the first time this season. Winnipeg has gone a league-worst 1 for 32 on the man advantage since Feb. 7.

"We never paid the price to win and we're not good enough to win easy," coach Claude Noel told the league's official website. "How do you go through a game not drawing a penalty? Usually that comes from your work ethic or from your battle level. I think that pretty much explains exactly the game you played, and why and how this could be very concerning."

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 22 of 26 shots Tuesday as his goals-against average on the road grew to 3.26, worst among East goaltenders to have made at least seven starts in opposing arenas.

Pavelec was pulled in the second period after allowing five goals in Tampa last month, falling to 1-4-2 with a 3.03 GAA over his last seven visits.

What to Read Next