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Burns: 3 Things from a big win in Winnipeg

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Jets

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Don't look now but the Tampa Bay Lightning are finally starting to play like the team fans expected when the Bolts were proclaimed Stanley Cup contenders in the preseason.

The Lightning put together a complete performance in Winnipeg on Saturday, toppling the Jets 4-1 for their third win in their last four games.

The Bolts are on a four-game point streak and have grabbed seven of a possible eight points over their last four.

Tampa Bay was sharp in all facets of the game in Winnipeg. The Lightning used their skill to create good scoring chances and their grit to get net front and capitalize on them. The Bolts' defense continues to limit its mistakes and play solid, error-free hockey. And goaltending has been as strong as it's been all year over the last four games.

Tampa Bay can feel good about its game as its heads into the bye week, the Lightning getting a chance to rest up for the home stretch with the next five days off.

We'll highlight the keys to the Bolts' continued positive play in 3 Things we learned from a win in Winnipeg.

Video: TBL@WPG: Bishop lays out to deny a wraparound

1. BISHOP GOING BEASTMODE

Since returning from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss nine games in late December-early January, Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop has gotten progressively better with each start, minus a stumble or two.

And over his last two-plus games, Bishop has been at his best this season.

After watching understudy Andrei Vasilevskiy star in a 37-save performance a night earlier in Minnesota, Bishop turned in a similar effort against the Jets, stopping 32-of-33 shots and putting a lid around the Lightning goal the jets wouldn't crack until midway through the third period when the Bolts had the game well in hand.

Bishop set the tone early, making a couple of tough, swiping glove saves on Mark Scheifele from in close to let the Jets know it was going to take a supreme effort to beat him.

Drawing confidence from Bishop's play early, the Lightning grabbed a hold of the game in the opening period, outshooting Winnipeg 14-8 and taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Lightning's grip on the game continued into the second period, where they netted another goal early on Ondrej Palat's 11th of the season. From that point, the Bolts salted the game away, limiting the amount of risks they took while playing controlled hockey and letting Bishop clean up the few mistakes they would make the rest of the game.

Bishop had his shutout streak stopped at 132 minutes and change after Trouba was able to get Winnipeg on the board at 11:15 of the third period. But Bishop closed out the Jets the same way he started the game, by making a couple tough saves to quell any Winnipeg comeback hopes.

Bishop has won three straight, and Vasilevskiy looked spectacular in his last start as well.

The Lightning are finally starting to get consistent play out of both of their goaltenders at the same time.
It's no coincidence the Bolts are 3-0-1 since this recent development.

Video: TBL@WPG: Point finishes Drouin's great no-look feed

2. DROUIN CONTINUES TO DAZZLE

Brayden Point put Tampa Bay up 1-0 a little more than 12 minutes into the game.

But Tampa Bay's opening goal was all Jonathan Drouin.

The third-year pro stripped Blake Wheeler of the puck inside the Jets zone then stick handled through two Jets as he brought the puck from the high slot to the right circle along the wall and down below the goal line.

As Point posted up at the edge of the goal, Drouin gained speed, faking like he was going to carry the puck around the goal.

Instead, at the last moment before getting too far behind the net, he flicked a backhanded pass to Point, who was able to push the redirection home after a couple whacks for his fourth goal in the last six games.

He has Drouin to thank, who in the blink of an eye, turned a Jets potential breakout into a 1-0 Lightning lead before Winnipeg even knew what hit it.

"Once he gets the puck in the offensive zone with a little time and space, he can do some magical things," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper marveled.

With the lead, the Lightning's confidence built, and they continued pressing for more. Brian Boyle's deflection from the slot with less than three minutes to go in the first was another dagger the Jets were never able to recover from.

But it was Drouin that got it started for the Bolts.

"Scoring first was important," Cooper said. "We've done fairly well when we've had the lead, but I think it was a carryover from last night. I think we played a pretty good game last night and didn't have the lead in the game last night, then lost in the shootout. But I think scoring somewhat early in the game was big for us."

Video: TBL@WPG: Boyle deflects Hedman's one-timer into twine

3. A SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND

The Lightning certainly wish they could have come out of a shootout on top Friday night in Minnesota, a place they haven't won since April of 2011.

But grabbing three of a possible four points on a difficult two-game road back-to-back is about as good a result as can be hoped for, especially with every point so valuable at this point in the season.
The Lightning haven't earned three or more points from road games in Winnipeg and Minnesota in the same season since 2010-11.

With a 3-0-1 record in their last four games heading into the bye week, it's hard to argue the Bolts haven't played a finer four-game stretch this season.

"We've been playing well for a while now, the past two weeks maybe," Drouin reasoned. "We're happy with our defensive play. Offense hasn't been there that much, but again, I think we started off capitalizing on our chances. But it definitely feels good having three of four points."

And it definitely feels good to see the Lightning playing the way they are as they prepare to make their final playoff push.

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