On the day the Tampa Bay Lightning fired head coach Guy Boucher, they probably should have fired goalie Cedrick Desjardins. Trouble is, with Anders Lindback injured, Desjardins is going get a lot of time in the Lightning net over the next couple of weeks.
Sunday night at MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 simply because they got to the inexperienced Tampa netminder early.
Desjardins was an undrafted free agent signed by the Canadiens in 2008, who had played just four games in the NHL before Sunday night. On Sunday, he allowed goals by Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobi Enstrom on the first 13 shots he saw and that’s all the Jets needed to put a halt to a two-game losing streak.
It was pretty obvious last night that Boucher took the fall for a very bad team. Last night, the Lightning used a three-headed interim coaching monster featuring Daniel Lacroix, Martin Raymond and Steve Thomas. It didn’t work.
With the win, the Jets improved to 17-14-2, still first in the Southeast Conference and third overall in the Eastern Conference. The Jets are back to .500 at home (8-8-0) and will head out onto the road for a pair of games in Carolina and Pittsburgh.
Little led the Jets with a goal and two assists and was named the game’s first star. Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves and was the game’s second star. Andrew Ladd also had an assist.
“It was good get a good start,” Blake Wheeler, who had a pair of assists, told TSN 1290 radio. “We hadn’t done that the last two games and we got it tonight.”
The Jets played so much better with defenseman Tobi Enstrom back in the lineup (after missing more than a month — 19 games — with a shoulder injury), although Winnipegger Derek Meech was once again rock solid on Sunday. Enstrom’s presence seemed to settle down a defense that was not good in two losses to Washington this week.
“Tobi Enstrom is such a presence on that blueline, you don’t know how much you miss him until you get him back in the lineup,” said Wheeler. “He’s such a great playmaker, he makes perfect passes and he just handles everything back on that blueline.”
Wheeler, who had a tremendous game on a strong line with Little and Andrew Ladd, said the Jets started sloppily but got it together midway through the first period and were in good shape after the first 20 minutes.
“We were sloppy the first 10 minutes of the game,” Wheelers aid. “But we had a couple of good shifts before Bryan’s goal and it was good to go into the dressing room with the first goal and the 1-0 lead.”
Wheeler said the ice was a tad soft at MTS Centre on Sunday night.
“The ice wasn’t as great as it usually is,” Wheeler said. “It was a little soft out there tonight. We had a few real good shifts tonight and for the most part., I thought we were pretty good despite the ice. Against Washington we were running around out of position. We did a better job tonight being more patient and supporting the puck more.”
The Jets now have a four -point lead over second place Carolina, but the Hurricanes have three games in hand.
The Jets head back out on the road to face Carolina in a huge game tomorrow night, at 6 p.m. and then they’ll take on Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. on Thursday night. Both games are on TSN Jets TV.
“It’s a huge game on Tuesday,” Wheeler said. “We’ve played a lot of hockey lately and Carolina’s had a chance to rest a little bit. You look at our next four games and we play two against Carolina. Those games are huge. A couple of wins there will put us in a good position going forward. Tuesday’s game with Carolina will be a playoff game.”