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Yup, the Winnipeg Jets now lead the Southeast Division

Tampa Bay Lightning v Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG, MB - FEBRUARY 23: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal in the second period with Blake Wheeler #26 Andrew Ladd #16 and Tim Stapleton #14 during their NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at MTS Centre on February 23, 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Tom Szczerbowski

Earlier this week, PHT broke down how wide-open the lowly Southeast Division really is. If that evidence was insufficient, chew on this: the Winnipeg Jets climbed up to first place tonight after they held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3.

The Jets seemed like they’d win a laugher when it was 4-0 but the Bolts made it more interesting with a three-goal third period, including No. 43 for Steven Stamkos. (Stamkos now has a 10-tally cushion against Evgeni Malkin in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.)

Andrew Ladd scored a goal and two assists while Dustin Byfuglien had a helper and what he likely didn’t expect to be the game-winner when he made it 4-0. Check out the highlights below.

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Now, it’s true that Winnipeg’s divisional lead is a little misleading. They have 67 points (30 wins - 26 in regulation/OT) in 63 games played while the Florida Panthers (66 points, 27 wins - 24 in reg/OT) have four games in hand and the Washington Capitals (63 points, 29 wins - 28 in reg/OT) have three more.

Still, recent mediocre play from the Panthers and Capitals lends the Jets some confidence and their cushy schedule should help them stay on track.

With all that in mind, it should be an awfully interesting - if sloppy - stretch run for the worst division in the NHL.