Winnipeg, MB – Andrew Ladd put up two goals and an assist in regulation, then potted the game-sealing score in the shootout to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 decision over the Tampa Bay Lightning at MTS Centre.
Mike Santorelli was credited with the game-winner in the deciding phase, while Blake Wheeler scored once and assisted on two others to help extend the Jets' winning streak to four straight.
"At the end of the day, we had some big goals in the shootout and we got our two points, so we'll take it and move on," Ladd remarked.
The victory moved Winnipeg into a tie with the New York Rangers, who lost at Philadelphia earlier Tuesday, for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers do hold a game in hand on the Jets, who have five remaining in their regular-season schedule.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec did his part as well for Winnipeg, making 24 saves in regulation and overtime before turning back both Tampa Bay skaters he faced in the shootout.
The Lightning earned a point on third-period goals from Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Steven Stamkos that erased a 3-1 deficit, with Ben Bishop registering 33 saves on the evening.
"Obviously you're never satisfied when you don't win," Stamkos said. "There's always areas to improve but I'm definitely satisfied with the effort in the second part of the game."
Winnipeg was in position to win without needing extra time after taking a 3-1 lead into the third period, but Tampa Bay came storming back over the last 15 minutes of the final frame to draw even.
Labrie began the comeback by poking home a rebound of Nate Thompson's shot from in close 5:19 into the stanza, and Stamkos delivered the equalizer just under six minutes later by collecting a loose puck in the neutral zone and ripping a wrister past Pavelec's stick side for his 27th goal of the season.
Bishop took it to a shootout by making four saves in overtime, but wasn't able to get down quick enough to prevent Santorelli's attempt in the second round from crossing the line.
After Pavelec blocked Richard Panik's try with his right pad to keep Winnipeg ahead, Ladd sewed up the two points with an rifle that beat Bishop five-hole to open the third round.
The teams battled to a 1-1 tie at the end of an evenly played first period, before the Jets dominated the second to create some distance.
Ladd tracked down a puck dumped along the left side and found an open Wheeler, who got Bishop on the ground before going upstairs to break the deadlock at the 8:37 mark of the middle session.
The Jets later capitalized on a penalty to Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier to claim a two-goal advantage. with Ladd sending a wrister from the left circle that went through the legs of Tampa defenseman Keith Aulie and over Bishop's glove 2:06 prior to the second intermission.
Winnipeg also had a goal waved off during the period, when Ladd was ruled to have interfered with Bishop on a blast from Grant Clitsome that found its way through with around seven minutes to go.
Ladd quickly gave Winnipeg a 1-0 after converting an odd-man rush with Wheeler just 1:23 after the opening faceoff, with linemate Bryan Little forcing a turnover to create the 3-on-2 opportunity.
The Lightning knotted the score just past the midway stage of the period, when Martin St. Louis one-timed a clearing attempt from Jets defender Ron Hainsey from behind his team's net past Pavelec.
Labrie (upper body) and center Nate Thompson (right eye) returned to the Tampa lineup after absences of two and one games, respectively, but center Tom Pyatt sat out after sustaining an upper-body injury in Sunday's loss at Buffalo ... Stamkos extended his streak of consecutive games with a goal against the Jets to seven, and he's registered 12 markers and six assists over his last 13 encounters with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise ... Ladd has scored in three straight contests and has compiled four goals and five assists over a five- game point streak ... The Jets improved to 11-4-2 in one-goal games this season.