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Kucherov goes from hero to goat as Jets best Bolts

Dallas Stars v Tampa Bay Lightning

Dallas Stars v Tampa Bay Lightning

NHLI via Getty Images

For a while there, it looked like Nikita Kucherov might have made the difference for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Some would counter that he eventually did so for the Winnipeg Jets, instead.

Kucherov scored his 26th goal of 2014-15 in the third period to finally break the ice in Saturday’s game, yet his major penalty for boarding Tobias Enstrom opened the door for Winnipeg to tie the contest and eventually win 2-1.

Here’s video of the check:

Enstrom returned late in the contest, and some argue that the Jets blueliner put himself in a vulnerable position on the check, for whatever that’s worth. Kucherov described the situation as an accident:

It’s probably not totally fair to pin things on Kucherov, really, especially since it was such a close game before he scored his goal and took that penalty.

Regardless, the bottom line is that Drew Stafford scored the tying tally on the power play and Blake Wheeler notched the game winner.

One other sure thing: the Jets moved back into the West’s final wild card spot ... at least as of this writing. The Jets now have 80 points with 69 games played while the Los Angeles Kings are at 79 points in 67 contests (with their 68th just underway against the Nashville Predators).

Perhaps Ondrej Pavelec feels a touch amused by this situation? During the same week that he gave up a turning point goal, he saw the opposing team take a self-destructive penalty to help his team win.

Either way, Winnipeg really needed this one, and they got a big win in a dramatic fashion.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins