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Palat gives Lightning win against Jets

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

WINNIPEG -- Ondrej Palat scored 36 seconds into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Friday.

On a 3-on-1, Palat took a pass from Steven Stamkos and scored on Ondrej Pavelec.

The Lightning (5-2-1) led three times before winning.

"Was it a perfect game?" Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "No, but we came here to get two points, and we did.

"That was two teams trying to win a hockey game. A lot of chances both ways. I think that game turned out pretty much the exact way it should have. It should have gone to overtime, and somebody is going to get fortunate."

Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for Tampa Bay, who play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in a rematch of last season's Stanley Cup Final. Victor Hedman had three assists for the Lightning, and Erik Condra had two.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg. Ehlers had a breakaway with less than 10 seconds left in the third period but his shot hit the post.

"The game actually turned into slow-motion for me [on the breakaway]," Cooper said.

The Jets (4-2-1) are in the middle of a six-game homestand and host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Ben Bishop, who has started each of Tampa Bay's eight games, made 33 saves. Pavelec made 27.

"It was a fast game, some really well executed plays for both teams," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I think both teams were good for a reason. I don't think through the game one team got worse. One team was good in the first and the third, [and] that was us. They were really good in the second period."

Aided by a Jets penalty 44 seconds into the game, the Lightning pressured Pavelec early before Winnipeg went on an 8-2 run in shots. Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on Coburn's first goal, a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle at 12:17.

Ehlers tied the game at 16:28, finishing a 3-on-2 with a pass from Mark Scheifele. Ehlers, the ninth pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has two goals and three assists in seven games.

"We came out slow," Palat said. "They were all over us. We were a little soft and that can't happen. I don't know what's going on, but we have to fix that. The second and third periods were better."

Lightning forward Brian Boyle (undisclosed) was scratched, forcing Cooper to alter his lineup. A fourth line of Paquette, Namestnikov and Condra went to work after Tampa Bay's sluggish first period.

The Lightning took a 2-1 lead 7:23 into the second period after Condra's pass set Paquette loose inside the zone for a snap shot over Pavelec's glove.

The Jets tied it 2-2 at 10:58 on Stafford's third goal, which he slipped past Coburn and Anton Stralman and between Bishop's pads.

Twenty-one seconds later, the Lightning took their third lead on Namestnikov's third goal.

"I thought [the Namestnikov line was] outstanding," Cooper said. "The big thing they did is they answered within seconds [on the third goal]. We talk about the biggest shifts in a game [being] the ones after goals, either for or against. We had one scored against us, and [the Paquette line] came right back and answered for us, and I thought that was the biggest goal of the game."

Wheeler's shorthanded goal 1:17 into the third period made it 3-3. Bishop mishandled a dump-in behind the net, allowing Wheeler to steal the puck and score on a backhand.

"I just kind of fanned on it," Bishop said. "I went to rim it and kind of fanned on it, and it doesn't normally happen to me. It's one of those things where you can't let it rattle you. It was kind of a fluke, and you just bounce back."

Wheeler has an NHL career-high seven-game point streak (four goals, five assists) and tied the franchise record set by Donald Audette with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000-01.

"We can go back to last year, for long stretches of it, [Wheeler] hit that maturity level where he can come to the rink and have a really strong night," Maurice said. "I think he's just a real, mature, high-end pro now. He takes care of his body [and] he just plays that way every single night."

Wheeler lamented the lost point.

"It's tough to pat yourself on the back after losses, especially in our division," Wheeler said. "It's going to be a tough grind all year. [Every Central Division team] seems to win every night."

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