Cernak, Erik

NHL Game Night: 1-17-19 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Lightning lose a rare squeaker.

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TB-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss.

First Period
9:48 TB Point (30), (Hedman, Stamkos)
11:48 TOR Kadri (10), (Kapanen, Marleau)

Second Period
13:06 TOR Marleau (11), (Kadri, Zaitsev)
13:43 TB Hedman (6), (Kucherov, Point)
14:49 TOR Marner (19), (Tavares, Johnsson)

Third Period
19:09 TOR Hyman (8), (Zaitsev, Tavares)(EN)

Brayden Point was the game's second star.

I'm sure Toronto sports radio is already planning the Leafs' parade route based on the night's result, but truth be told I thought the Lightning played reasonably well and win with that effort 6-7 times out of 10. They just couldn't get the finish. When Nikita Kucherov caught Anderson off his angle late in the Third Period with the extra attacker on and a ton of room to the short side and proceeding to target shoot it back into Anderson's crest, you knew it wasn't meant to be. That happens. The Lightning have won more than their fair share of these kinds of games, but you have to expect you're going to run into that 3-4 times out of 10 every once in a while.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot in 11:21.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 2 shots and 6 hits in 17:38.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-13-19 Lightning at Islanders

Slow start finally bites the Lightning.

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NYI-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the lost. The third goal allowed was of the softer variety, and probably ultimately cost the Lightning any real shot of coming back in this one.

First Period
1:21 NYI Nelson (16), (Eberle, Barzal)(PP)
4:27 NYI Clutterbuck (3), (Martin, Cizikas)
4:43 NYI Toews (3), (unassisted)

Second Period
11:03 NYI Cizikas (11), (Martin, Clutterbuck)
18:12 TB McDonagh (5), (Stamkos, Palat)

Third Period
NYI Bailey (10), (Lee, Leddy)(EN)

If there's been a single negative to the Lightning's run over the past month and a half it's been a penchant to have sleepy, slow starts. Tonight the Lightning were down 3-0 before five minutes were even gone and they just never recovered playing on the tail end of a back-to-back. That strikes me as an intensity/focus issue, and sometimes it takes a loss like this for the point to be driven home. Unfortunately, the loss also came at the cost of Victor Hedman leaving the game with an apparent concussion after colliding with an official. All around, just a bad night.

Mathieu Joseph was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 11:48.

Adam Erne had 7 hits in 10:14. The scorekeeper in Brooklyn sure does love handing out hits.

Erik Cernak had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 2 hits in 16:39.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-12-19 Lightning at Sabres

Kucherov takes over Third Period and buries Buffalo.

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Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals on 33 shots for the win. He was overpushing pretty badly against odd man rush attempts and it burned him a couple of times, but goal support is a beautiful thing. I will give him credit, though, he made a couple of key ten bell saves in the Second Period to allow the Lightning to stay fully in the game.

First Period
0:26 TB Point (29), (Kucherov, Johnson)
5:47 BUF Reinhart (10), (Skinner, Dahlin)
19:50 BUF Thompson (6), (Girgensons, Sobotka)

Second Period
7:50 TB Palat (6), (Sergachev, Hedman)

Third Period
5:54 BUF Scandella (3), (Pominville, Sheary)
6:17 TB Kucherov (22), (Stamkos)
14:44 TB Stamkos (24), (Kucherov, Hedman)
18:41 TB Callahan (5), (Cirelli, Killorn)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

Lightning games have gotten somewhat formulaic at this point. They haven't really played a First Period of note in a while, and tonight's flat start was nothing new. They hang around in a tied game or even trailing by a goal here or there. And then they either flip the switch and blow a team off the ice or simply wear a team out in the final frame. Tonight's game had the extra feature of Nikita Kucherov absolutely taking over the game in the Third Period. He's a very good player, but I could make an argument this was Kucherov going to another gear tonight to help put the Sabres, who are now outside the playoffs looking in, away.

A word of note about the controversial Third Period officiating. First, Buffalo fans crying about the officiating need to recognize they outpaced the Lightning in power plays awarded 4-1. Call me crazy, but I know Buffalo isn't as pure as the driven snow and I know there were several missed calls Buffalo got away with. Second, on the Sergachev and Larsson dust up in the Third Period, recognize there was an uncalled slew foot moments before Sergachev snapped a hit Larsson in the mush. Yes, the Larsson call was a phantom cross check, but again, don't tell me Buffalo was as pure as the driven snow. Finally, the Eichel elbowing call to the back of McDonagh's head. He makes the argument that his elbow was tucked into his body and that McDonagh had his head down. Fine. Doesn't matter. It was a head shot. Period. Whatever you choose to call it, be it "elbowing" or whatever, the point is the league is trying to legislate head shots out of the game. It has to be a call. That was far more of a clear cut head shot than the Martel hit in Vancouver ever was, certainly.

Adam Erne had 2 hits in 10:08. Felt like he was stapled to the bench most of the night.

Erik Cernak was -2 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 22:08.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-10-19 Hurricanes at Lightning

Tampa Bay breaks through stout Carolina D for comeback win.

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TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win. Made a handful of big stops to keep the Lightning within shooting distance before the team eventually broke through in the Third Period.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:34 CAR Williams (11), (Hamilton, VanReimsdyk)

Third Period
11:56 TB Palat (5), (Stamkos, Point)(PP)
16:45 TB Point (27), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
19:34 TB Point (28), (Stamkos, Killorn)(EN)

Brayden Point and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.

Tampa Bay took about half the game to fully adjust to Carolina's speed and structure, including a pancake flat First Period, and looked in real danger of being shutout in this contest. But, what makes this year's Lightning different is most teams can't go 60 minutes with them before the Lightning's depth eventually cracks them. Carolina took some penalties in the Third Period as the Lightning ratcheted up the pressure and they ultimately paid the price.

Mathieu Joseph had 1 shot in 9:24. Made a gorgeous pass to Brayden Point to spring him for an apparent breakaway goal that was disallowed for an offside with Tyler Johnson jumping off the ice. It's a shame, because Joseph had a really strong shift and looked like he'd gotten the payoff.

Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 9:06.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:14. Drew one of the key penalties in the Third Period keeping a puck at the blueline and slashing toward the slot.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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