Tampa, FL – Bryan Little scored the deciding goal with 4:08 left to play, enabling the Winnipeg Jets to avenge an earlier lopsided loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-1 decision over their Southeast Division rival at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Eric Tangradi netted his first goal as a Jet and Al Montoya turned back 28- of-29 shots to help Winnipeg gain payback for last month's 8-3 shellacking at the hands of the Lightning in its most recent visit to Tampa.
The win also halted a two-game overall losing skid and was only the Jets' second in their last 11 trips to Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Steven Stamkos came through with his league-leading 18th tally of the season for the Lightning's lone score. Anders Lindback finished with 26 saves in the loss, Tampa's sixth in its past seven outings.
"It's hard to take because the results are not coming with the effort," Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. "Our players did everything they could tonight."
The Lightning appeared on the way to possibly ending their struggles after putting together a strong third period highlighted by Stamkos' latest score, a quick one-timer off Martin St. Louis' centering pass while falling down in front of the Winnipeg net that knotted the game at 1-1 at the 6:57 mark.
Ondrej Palat hit the post later in the period for Tampa Bay, but the Jets were the ones that cashed in on the resulting rush when Little got behind St. Louis and slipped a shot underneath Lindback's pads to break the deadlock.
The Lightning got off three shots on goal in the final three-plus minutes, but Montoya was up to the test as the Jets held on.
Montoya was also quite sharp early on in his first game action since Feb. 12, coming up with 12 saves in the opening session and receiving some early offensive support from an unlikely source in Tangradi. After Kyle Wellwood created a turnover in the Tampa zone, his fourth-line mate skated up the left wing and sent a riser over Lindback's right shoulder midway through the frame for just his second goal in 56 career NHL appearances.
The Lightning had a golden opportunity to pull even after a pair of Winnipeg penalties led to a 5-on-3 power play for a full two minutes during the second period, but the Jets were successfully able to kill the dual infractions off.
"For us the turning point of the game was the 5-on-3, for a full two minutes," Jets head coach Claude Noel said. "It was a key kill, guys made big sacrifices, didn't give them many shots or good looks so it was good."
Winnipeg had a more brief 5-on-3 chance later on in the stanza and came close to increasing its lead, but Andrew Ladd's shot from the right circle clanged off the post and back into play.
Forward Ryan Malone returned to the Lightning lineup after a 13-game absence caused by a lower body injury and was credited with an assist on Stamkos' goal in his first appearance since Feb. 7 ... The Jets had been 1-6-3 in their last 10 visits to Tampa Bay heading into Thursday's tilt ... Tangradi's only other NHL goal came while with Pittsburgh against the New York Islanders on Oct. 15, 2010 ... St. Louis extended his point streak to five games, during which he's notched two goals and five assists ... The Lightning lost for only the second time in eight matchups with fellow Southeast Division members this season.