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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Jets, Lightning enter matchup riding 3-game win streaks

NHL News: Jets, Lightning enter matchup riding 3-game win streaks


After the Winnipeg Jets finished their five-game homestand Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, it is unlikely coach Rick Bowness’ club wanted any time off.

The Jets, who went 4-1-0 in that stint, are as far away from home as they can be when they open a three-game trip through the southern United States with a match at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

Following that game, they will visit the Florida Panthers in a Black Friday tilt before heading to Nashville for Sunday’s encounter with the Predators.

Speedster Kyle Connor is crafting a spectacular season and is having to get used to being referred to in a different way — “NHL goal-scoring leader Kyle Connor.”

“During the season, you don’t have time to think about that, so it’s pretty far in the back of my mind to be honest,” said Connor, who is tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews with 14 goals in 17 games entering Wednesday.

An eight-year veteran from the University of Michigan, the top-line left wing has been clutch, too: He paces Winnipeg with five game-winning markers.

“That’s something I pride myself in, being able to step up,” Connor said. “When it’s a tie ballgame or we’re down, you feel the crowd coming and you kind of feel the anticipation of the moment.

“That’s when I feel I play at my best. You get a little extra gear. You want to be called upon in those moments.”

The Jets may need Connor to step up even more against the surging Lightning, who have been triumphant in three straight contests overall and the first two matches of their three-game homestand, earning wins over the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins.

In Monday’s 5-4 overtime win against Boston — the Lightning’s first victory in five tries in 3-on-3 play — Michael “Mikey” Eyssimont played a key role as the home side topped the NHL’s best club through the first two months.

Despite producing only one point on the scoresheet — an assist on Tanner Jeannot’s early tally — the former San Jose Sharks forward played a crucial role in the feisty game that featured bruising physicality and borderline hits.

A center who played 20 games over two seasons with Winnipeg starting in 2021, Eyssimont was the right type of player to have competing against the stout Bruins, who are as much brutish as pesky at times.

“He’s a menace,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper of the Littleton, Colo., product. “You really want to have the menaces on your side, and he’s all over the place. He doesn’t stop and he’s fearless.”

Steven Stamkos had an assist early in the match, but it was his goal with 4.8 seconds left in regulation that forced overtime and lifted the Lightning to the big win.

Stamkos shared Cooper’s sentiments on Eyssimont, acquired last March 1 from the Sharks for center Vladislav Namestnikov.

“That’s a guy you don’t want to play against,” the Lightning captain said. “I don’t even want to practice against him to be honest with you because he’s that intense all the time, which is a great thing, obviously.”

Without star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (back surgery), Tampa Bay has 22 points in 19 games. Last season, it produced 23 in the first 19 matches.

–Field Level Media

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