It's fitting that the Winnipeg Jets probably need to win out in their final road trip of the season to keep their fading playoff chances alive.
The Jets got the four-game swing off on the right foot last night and look to continue that success this evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Winnipeg sits six points behind Washington for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left to play for both clubs. The Jets will need help as they don't face the Capitals again this season and the Sabres are also ahead of Winnipeg with 86 points. Washington is in action tonight as well, hosting the Montreal Canadiens, while Buffalo is visiting Toronto.
The Jets have road contests in Tampa Bay, Florida and New York against the Islanders before ending their regular season at home against the Lightning. Winnipeg's 4-3 victory in overtime at Carolina last night gave it just a 13-21-4 record on the road this campaign compared to 23-13-4 at home.
It took a rally to overcome the Hurricanes last night as the Jets battled back from two goals down. Kyle Wellwood potted the game-tying goal with 4:47 left in regulation and Andrew Ladd had the winner 15 seconds into overtime after taking a feed from Zach Bogosian, who posted three assists in the win.
Wellwood also had an assist, while Jim Slater and Nik Antropov added goals. Chris Mason made 30 saves to help the Jets snap a three-game slide.
"We want to show that we have a lot of character in the room," said Ladd. "We owe it to each other in the room and to our fans back home to battle hard the rest of these games and see where we land."
The Jets have won three straight over the Lightning since dropping the first of six meetings this season back on Oct. 29 that extended their series losing streak to 12 straight games. Winnipeg notched a 2-1 overtime victory in Tampa Bay on Feb. 2 that halted a seven-game road slide to the Bolts.
The Lightning return home after dropping the final two contests of a three- game road trip. With just 77 points and five games to play, Tampa Bay is on pace to miss the postseason one year after getting eliminated by Pittsburgh in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals.
A balanced scoring attack by the Devils doomed the Lightning to a 6-4 setback on Thursday despite Ryan Malone's fourth career hat trick. Trevor Smith also scored and Victor Hedman added two helpers against a New Jersey team that pulled away with a four-goal third period.
"We were sloppy with the puck. It cost us," said Malone, who has 18 points over his past 20 games.
Dwayne Roloson got the start and allowed all six goals on 34 shots. Sebastien Caron made his season debut for the Bolts and stopped all four shots faced in relief over nearly 14 minutes of ice time.
Tampa Bay, which plays its next two games at home, had captain Vincent Lecavalier back in the lineup for the first time in 19 games because of a fractured right hand.