WINNIPEG—Back and forth and forth and back. That was the way of the Lightning and Jets on Sunday.
First the Lightning led, then a tie, Jets, tie, Lightning, tie, Lightning, tie, Jets. Of course this one needed overtime for Winnipeg to get the 5-4 win.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said even before the game started that something fun goes down every time these teams meet. He wasn't wrong.
It was one of those games where too good teams kept each other just off their games. It was a little messy, but fun to watch. Twice, the teams scored within 70 seconds of each other. And twice, Winnipeg scored in the final minute of the period to tie the game up, then the Jets did it again in overtime.
With that, the Lightning's win streak came to a halt at eight games, one shy of tying the franchise record. It now becomes an "unbeaten" streak with points in nine straight games.
"Obviously these were two teams that were neck-and-neck," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "At one point you look up and its 4-4 with 31 shots apiece. Two good teams that are real close."
In the end, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Conner Hellebuyck both saw more than 40 shots. Vasilevskiy made 37 saves on 42 shots for the Lightning, and Hellebuyck had 43 on 47. Typically making that many saves should be a relatively easy win. But this one was just heavy offensively on both ends.
McDonagh said it was a sloppier game for two teams that are higher in the standings, particularly as it pertains to puck management. Both teams had some turnovers, they'd like to eliminate.
"Both teams have a lot of speed," he said. "You have to be quick and assertive when you have the puck on your stick and anticipate the next play. We used our speed against them and they did it to us too."
The common refrain, however, was when you have a lead late on the road, you need to find a way to win. That's what the Lightning had been doing during their win streak. Whatever shape the game took, Tampa Bay rose to the occasion.
The Lightning did rise on Sunday and had an answer to almost everything the Jets pulled out. But Winnipeg answered last.
Late in the third period, Nikolaj Ehlers dove and got his stick on a rebound off the boards, directing it past Vasilevskiy to tie it up one more time with about five minutes to play. McDonagh took the blame for that goal, having turned the puck over to grant the Jets the possession they scored on. Cooper saw more factors after that turnover that led to the goal.
"We kind of fueled it," he said. "But who knows their coach is probably saying the same thing about some of the plays they made against us. When you have a whole bunch of good players on the ice, they can make things like that happen and it happened both ways."
Like in regulation, both teams had chances in overtime, though the Lightning may have passed on a few chances to shoot. Both goalies came up with big saves.
Vasilevskiy appeared to make one more great save, a poke check on Patrik Laine. However, the puck landed in front of Mark Scheifele, and he got past Vasilevskiy with 41.4 seconds left in overtime. One more last-minute goal.
"Two good teams playing," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Offensively, we played well enough to win the game. Defensively, we have better in us. Let's be honest, they're a good team too. They're out there trying to score as well."
Before Thursday's game against Toronto, Cooper said last year's Lightning team played a more run-and-gun, last-shot-wins style. He said the Lightning played well enough on Sunday to stay above the run-and-gun label, but last-shot-wins certainly applied.