Ashton, Carter

AHL Game Night: 1-27-12 Bears at Admirals

Labrie is Superman.

HER-1
NOR-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NOR Ashton, (17) (Kostka, Panik), 11:32

Third Period
HER Micflikier, (19) (Eakin), 6:30
NOR Labrie, (7) (Smith, Conacher), 10:04

Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Carter Ashton, and Tokarski were the game's three stars. Ashton now with 2 goals in his last 3 games. You hope it's time for another Carter Ashton boomlet.

Labrie got off the plane, then got into a phone booth to put on his cape and score the game winning goal. There's not many tough guys who could do what he did: play a strong 2-way game in a 4th line role in Tampa and then turn around and go play on a top line and score the winning goal down in the AHL. This guy's not going away. He's not a flash in the pan.

Mark it down: 1/27/12 was the day Panik got back to 0.50 points per game. Panik attack, ya'll.

Norfolk's win ties them with Hershey at 55 points, but they're now 3 points behind the suddenly surging Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. On the one hand, playing in this division makes it extremely tough to get a high seed, which is tough on Norfolk. On the other hand, though, they'll be a lot more battle tested come the postseason having played more games against quality opposition.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-21-12 Admirals at Whale

When Slovakians attack...

NOR-5
CT-4 (SO)

Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 26 shots and stopped 9 of 10 in the penalty shot session for the win. He came into the game in relief of Dustin Tokarski who unceremoniously allowed all 3 shots he faced into the net before getting the hook.

First Period
NOR Johnson, (14) (Ashton, Conacher), 0:39
CT Deveaux, (12) (Newbury, Christensen), 1:26 (PP)
CT Tanski, (3) (Tessier), 3:49
CT Bourque, (3) (Tessier, Parlett), 6:33

Second Period
NOR Palat, (3) , 3:58

Third Period
NOR Ashton, (16) (Panik, Jackson), 6:10
NOR Conacher, (24) (Kostka), 6:28 (PP)
CT Tanski, (4) (Grant, Owens), 8:13

Richard Panik was the first star of the game. He assisted Carter Ashton on the goal to tie the game at 3-3, got cheap shotted by Aaron Voros shortly thereafter, but got his revenge with the tenth round shootout winner. I'm rather shocked Janus didn't get a star, but both he and his countryman Panik were very worthy tonight. In his last 10 games, the AHL is feeling the Panik attack to the tune of 5 goals and 9 points.

For those wondering, although not 100%, Mark Barberio did dress and play tonight. I'm not the official BP Tweetmeister, but if I were: #goodnewsforachange

Norfolk's trip to the pay window moves them to within 2 points of Hershey in the division with the Bears holding a game in hand. Norfolk draws Charlotte at Scope on Tuesday night. The Checkers have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference (don't ask) this season, so Norfolk will have their work cut out for them.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-12-12 Hurricanes at Lightning

It's sad to think with 40 games left to play the season may already be effectively over.

CAR-5
TB-2

Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 8 shots for the loss before giving way to Dwayne Roloson who allowed 2 goals on 24 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
CAR Ruutu (15), (Staal, Tlusty), 3:27
CAR Tlusty (8), (Staal), 4:41
TB Thompson (4), (unassisted), 14:36
CAR Harrison (6), (Ruutu, Faulk), 15:10
CAR Tlusty (9), (Staal, Ruutu), 16:18

Second Period
TB Purcell (8), (Gervais, Stamkos), 2:49

Third Period
CAR Brent (5), (Stewart, Harrison), 13:41

It's time for Steve Yzerman to throw the switch and to begin working the phones as a seller. If there was a team in the NHL I could've hand picked for the Lightning to get a win tonight, it would've been the Carolina Hurricanes. Even in their darkest hours, the Lightning have always seemed to torment Carolina. To get blown out 5-2 at home by a club they've effectively owned is a pretty prominent red flag that indicates the comeback in the standings isn't coming.

There are a lot of veterans on this team that will be unrestricted free agents who shouldn't be back next season that should be converted into draft picks and mid-level prospects. There's still more players that the Lightning need to make a decision about, because there are passengers on this roster. Not everyone is taking a beating like Steve Downie to try to win hockey games, and those players deserve scrutiny.

Last, it's time for some youth. It's time to give Brett Connolly more ice time. It's time to give a look to guys like Carter Ashton and Mark Barberio who are currently in the minors. The 2012-2013 season begins now, and the next 40 games should be devoted to finding a mix for next season that can go out and get this Lightning team back to the elite status we thought they were headed toward at the end of last season.

Connolly had 2 shots and 1 hit in 9:44. He's been in the 9-10 minute range since returning to the team from the WJC's. The way I see it, he needs to be playing with Stamkos and/or Lecavalier the next 40 games on a scoring line. Prepare him for next season. And, if he plays well, he'll make certain guys who aren't carrying their weight as alleged scoring threats even more expendable.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Prospect WJC Preview

Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will proudly don their home country’s sweater this holiday season to compete in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. The WJCs are arguably the most exciting international hockey tournament outside of the Olympics and playing for one’s country during this event is a career builder.

Last year Carter Ashton, Brett Connolly, and Canada came up short in the finals, allowing five third period goals to Russia in the gold medal game to lose, 5-3. Host team USA beat Sweden for the bronze in Buffalo, New York.

The last Lightning prospect to win a gold medal was Dustin Tokarski for Canada in 2009 when “The Tik” was player of the game in the championship game – a win over Victor Hedman and Sweden. Dana Tyrell was also a part of that Canadian team, but was injured in pre-tournament action and missed the tournament.

Here’s a look at each Lightning prospect participating in this year’s event, to be held December 26 through January 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Check NHL Network listings for broadcasts.

AHL Game Night: 12-17-11 Admirals at Penguins

Norfolk's biggest win of the season thus far.

NOR-5
WBS-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the win. He snaps a brief 2 game personal skid in a spot where his club absolutely needed a win.

First Period
NOR Fornataro, (2) (Smith, Devos), 0:53 (PP)
NOR Ashton, (14) (Gudas, Jackson), 4:32
WBS Street, (10) (Henningson, Merth), 10:41

Second Period
WBS Lerg, (11) (Walker, McDonald), 1:42
NOR Johnson, (11) (Cote, Tokarski), 7:06
NOR Conacher, (18) (Smith, Jackson), 13:31
NOR Ouellet, (7) (Ashton, Angelidis), 19:40

Third Period
NO SCORING

Carter Ashton, Tyler Johnson, and Scott Jackson were the game's three stars.

For Norfolk, this was a huge game. They did not want to go into Hershey tomorrow trying to stave off the divisional sweep. That's a bad spot to be in on your 3rd game in 3 nights in one of the toughest buildings in the league to earn points in. They absolutely needed tonight's win to keep contact in the divisional hunt, and if they can steal a win from the Bears tomorrow, well that's just a bonus present in this holiday season. With the win, Norfolk is 2 points back of the Bears and Pens for the top spot in the East Division.

Carter Ashton (pictured) played well last night, but was Holtby'ed off the scoresheet on more than one occasion. He's starting to get active again, and that bodes well. Meanwhile, Johnson has 5 goals and 7 points in his last 8 games. That leads to an interesting question. Nate Thompson went out early in tonight's Lightning game and speculation is a forward may be recalled at some point. Is it Ashton? Is it Johnson? Trevor Smith?

Norfolk draws Hershey tomorrow at 5 pm. My guess is that Oberg rides the shuttle back for that game. When that game is over, the Admirals are off until 12/28. So, anyone's fair game for a call up from a manpower standpoint. The Lightning don't play again until Wednesday, when they start a 2 game swing through San Jose and Colorado. The question then is whether Matt Gilroy and/or Nate Thompson will be healthy, and whether Oberg and/or a forward will need to make the trip with the team and possible spend Christmas in Tampa.

No pressure, kids, but I suspect there will be some Tampa execs with eyes on the Hershey game.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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