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Lightning jump out to early lead, hand Jets their fourth loss in a row

Lightning hand Jets fourth straight loss

WINNIPEG — Jonathan Drouin will probably see himself on some highlight segments this week.

The Tampa Bay winger made a slick pass to set up a goal by rookie Brayden Point in the Lightning’s 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Saturday.

After stealing the puck from Jets captain Blake Wheeler in Winnipeg’s end, Drouin looked like he was going to skate around the back of the net with the puck. Instead, he quickly sent a backhand pass to Point parked at the side of the net and the rookie tapped in his seventh goal of the season at 12:05 for the game’s opening goal, and Tampa’s first of three straight to set the tone.

Drouin said he was focusing on skating during the play.

“Picked Wheeler off there. He came back at me. (Mark) Scheifele came,” Drouin said. “I just went wide with speed and Pointer set at the net and the goalie (Connor Helleybuyck) kind of shifted the other way off the post and Pointer just tapped it in.

“I saw (Point) right at the get-go. He wasn’t going to move from there.”

Point, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist and Brian Boyle also scored for the Lightning (25-24-7), who extended their point streak to four games (3-0-1).

Ben Bishop made 32 saves in picking up his 14th win of the season for Tampa Bay.

Defenceman Jacob Trouba scored his fifth goal of the season to nix a shutout at 11:15 of the third period. Hedman’s goal was an empty netter with 36 seconds remaining.

Hellebuyck stopped 26-of-29 shots for Winnipeg (25-29-4), which lost its fourth straight game.

It was also the Jets’ fifth straight loss at home, something the NHL club hasn’t done since a five-game winless skid in March 2014.

Hellebuyck vowed he’d pick up a similar play to Drouin’s in the future.

“I could break it down a million different ways,” Hellebuyck said. “At the end of the day it went in the net. I don’t like goals going in so I’m going to stop it next time.”

Tampa Bay held a 2-0 lead after the first period with Boyle’s goal, and Palat made it 3-0 two minutes into the second.

“I think the first period, everybody was rolling,” Bishop said. “We killed (a) power play off and we got one (goal), then we got two so we just kind of kept on a roll there.

“We talked in between the first and the second (period) about getting that next goal and obviously (Palat) goes out and scores so just an all-round great game by everybody. It feels good before the break.”

The Lightning don’t play again until Feb. 18. Winnipeg finishes off a four-game homestand Tuesday against Dallas.

“Our season is on the line here,” Jets forward Mathieu Perreault said. “We’ve got to win games.

“It seems we came out with too much energy and the bench wasn’t great either. It’s very disappointing the way we came out.”

Palat’s goal at 2:11 of the second period marked the 15th straight game that Winnipeg has allowed at least three goals in a game.

The Jets had a power play early in the second, but couldn’t produce many chances and were booed by some of the fans at MTS Centre.

Trouba scored with a high shot on Bishop’s glove side. He now has 24 points in 43 games, eclipsing the point total he had in 81 games last season.

Hedman’s empty netter at 19:24 was his eighth goal of the season.

Veteran Jets defenceman Tobias Enstrom was injured in the first period and didn’t return. He suffered a lower-body injury and will be evaluated.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

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