Winnipeg Jets Edge Lightning: Will They Pass the Rangers for 8th in the East?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IApril 17, 2013

WINNIPEG, CANADA - APRIL 9:  Head coach Claude Noel, of the Winnipeg Jets gives some direction from the bench during a break in play in third-period action agaisnt the Buffalo Sabres on April 9, 2013 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets won’t go away, at least not yet. A 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, their fourth in a row, kept the Jets’ playoff hopes very much alive.

Captain Andrew Ladd, who has been dominant all season, got things started early on when he beat Ben Bishop five-hole with a weak wrist shot.

The Lightning evened the score less than 10 minutes later, when Martin St. Louis notched his 12th goal of the season off a turnover by Ron Hainsey. Suspect play deep in the defensive zone has cost the Jets on numerous occasions this season, and this play was no different.

The Jets bounced back, however, with two goals in the second period.

Ladd outworked Victor Hedman along the boards and was able to feed Blake Wheeler, who displayed great patience before beating Bishop high. Zach Bogosian also drew an assist on the play.

Winnipeg appeared to score again a few minutes later, but it was waved off because of goaltender interference.

However, Ladd added his second of the game on the power play just before the end of the period. It was a play that once again involved Wheeler and Bogosian.

Winnipeg held a 3-1 lead after two periods, in what was a fast-paced game that saw good scoring chances at both ends. In the third, the Lightning seemed to have an edge, and the Jets were unable to hang on, giving up back-to-back goals to Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Steven Stamkos.

Overtime solved nothing, although both teams had good scoring opportunities.

Ondrej Pavelec came up big in the shootout, stopping two attempts. Mike Santorelli scored on the Jets’ second shot, and then Ladd came through yet again, to clinch the win.

Ladd has now registered a point in five consecutive games, scoring four goals and five assists in that span. Meanwhile, Pavelec continues to get the job done in the crease. He made 24 saves in what was his 39th game of the season.


Playoff Race        

The win gave the Jets 46 points on the season, the same as the Rangers, who have a game in hand. They're three points back of the New York Islanders, who are on fire of late and four points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres, who have slowly risen from the basement.

As for the Southeast Division title, that’s a long shot.

The Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the league right now and continue to beat up on their division rivals. With Alex Ovechkin returning to form (18 goals and eight assists in his last 16 games), expect Washington to continue to roll.

The Jets have five games remaining, three of which are at home against the Hurricanes, Islanders and Canadiens. Their two final road games are against the Sabres and Capitals.

Considering how easy the Rangers schedule is, with games against the Panthers, Hurricanes and Devils, the Jets will likely need at least seven or eight points out of a possible 10 in order to make the playoffs.