Cory Conacher scored two goals and six Tampa Bay Lightning players had at least two points Friday night as the Bolts routed the visiting Winnipeg Jets 8-3.
Conacher, the young center who leads all National Hockey League rookies with 12 points, has adjusted well from the American Hockey League, where he won Most Valuable Player last season for the league champion Norfolk Admirals.
He scored the game’s first goal (4) on a five-on-three attempt in the first, deflecting D Matt Carle’s shot past Jets G Ondrej Pavelec, who was pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots.
The power play goal, one of three in the first period for the Lightning, helped Tampa Bay (6-1-0) capitalize on Winnipeg’s 23 first-period penalty minutes.
C Steven Stamkos (5) and C Vincent Lecavalier (4) added one-time goals of their own to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead after one.
The Bolts doubled their lead in the second, scoring three goals in the first six minutes and chasing Pavelec from the game.
Conacher scored (5) 26 seconds into the period, followed by C Nate Thompson (1) and RW Teddy Purcell (2) at 04:43 and 05:43.
G Al Montoya, who replaced Pavelec, made eight of 11 saves in the game.
With the result of the game not in doubt, Lightning fans turned to G Anders Lindback to see if he could get his first shutout in a Bolts uniform.
Alas, it was not to be, as the Jets (3-4-1) scored three goals in the third courtesy of a few power plays and some sloppy defending from Tampa Bay.
“It’s very difficult to have guys stay in the game physically and mentally,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher told Sun Sports.
Ironically, the Jets did out-shoot the Lightning for the game 29-25.
LW Ryan Malone (4) and LW Benoit Pouliot (2) each added goals of their own in the third to keep the game out of reach and the Lightning’s five-game home winning streak intact.
However, the good news for the Lightning is that only three players (D Victor Hedman, RW Martin St. Louis, and D Matt Carle) had more than 20 minutes of ice time prior to the Lightning’s match-up Saturday night with the New York Rangers.
The game, which Purcell called “our toughest test this season,” will be a true barometer of where the Lightning are at in this truncated 2013 season and the players are well-rested after Friday’s blowout victory.
The Rangers last played Thursday night, losing at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0.
The Tampa Bay Times Forum, filled to capacity again Friday night, looks to continue its five-game sellout streak on Saturday.
The Jets will take a couple of days to regroup and refocus before opening up a two-game home stretch that starts with the Florida Panthers Tuesday night.
*The six Lightning players with at least two points were Eric Brewer, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot, Cory Conacher and Steven Stamkos.