Cernak, Erik

NHL Game Night: 12-29-18 Canadiens at Lightning

Erne's heroics save Lightning from another defensive holiday hangover.

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TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 38 shots for the victory. This may be exciting hockey, but the coverage busts against the rush and off faceoffs aren't sustainable, and the team can't keep on counting on winning these 1980's-style high scoring games. Refocusing is needed across the board.

First Period
9:44 MTL Shaw (10), (Tatar, Kotkaniemi)(PP)
10:00 MTL Agostino (2), (Benn, Danault)
14:12 TB Gourde (11), (Erne, McDonagh)
17:07 TB Stralman (2), (unassisted)
17:35 MTL Benn (2), (Danault, Gallagher)

Second Period
7:55 TB Kucherov (18), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
8:33 TB Johnson (18), (Sergachev, Kucherov)
12:19 MTL Kulak (1), (Tatar, Danault)
13:11 MTL Shaw (11), (Lehkonen, Weber)

Third Period
9:36 TB Erne (5), (Stralman, Hedman)
18:58 TB Erne (6), (Gourde, Cirelli)

Adam Erne and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars. One of these crazy, high scoring games you can excuse as an anomaly. Two in a row is an alarming trend. I'll just reiterate it: There needs to be a team-wide refocusing, because this isn't sustainable and it's not acceptable to be allowing this many goals a game.

With one more game to go in this 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning have already banked 14 insurance points on the year. They're more than a full 10-game segment ahead of playoff pace, meaning they could play just below sub-.400 hockey from here on out and still sneak into the postseason. That's great, mind you, but it's not an invitation for complacency.

Mathieu Joseph was -3 in his return from injury in 6:54 of ice time. Joseph is eight NHL appearances this season shy of graduation from prospect status on the site.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 14:04. He was also 54% on 13 draws. Cirelli will retire from prospect status on the site in just two more NHL appearances this year.

Erne had 2 goals and an assist and was +4 with 3 shots in 10:47. His game gave you a full display of what this young player can provide the team from the faceoff dots down in the offensive zone — big body who was tough to knock off the puck on the cycle. Got a defender on his back boxing him out with the big body in front to jab home the rebound on his first goal. And then you see the hand skills with the wicked release on one-time on the pass coming out of the corner top shelf with a near perfect shot. Keeping Erne healthy and continuing to develop him as a contributor as this regular season wears on ought to be a priority for the team, because he's got the kind of game that travels well at playoff time and they don't have a ton of guys in the organization like him.

Erik Cernak had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-26-18 Crunch at Devils

Crunch slay Devils on the day after Christmas.

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BNG-3

Eddie Pasquale allowed 3 goals on 33 shots for the victory.

First Period
7:28 BNG Ramage (5), (Kapla, Rooney)
12:20 BNG Pietila (10), (McLeod, Bastian)
12:41 SYR Foote (3), (Yan, Bourke)
16:13 SYR Verhaeghe (11), (Gaunce, Dumont)

Second Period
12:13 SYR Barre-Boulet (14), (Gaunce, Colton)
12:26 SYR Foote (4), (Barre-Boulet, Volkov)
19:40 BNG Gignac (6), (Jacobs, Rooney)

Third Period
4:56 SYR Masin (1), (Labrie, Verhaeghe)
11:40 SYR Katchouk (4), (Dumont)

Cal Foote, Gabriel Dumont, and Alex Barre-Boulet were the game's three stars. The Erik Cernak boomlet has taken the pressure off Foote to ascend his development curve quickly, and has given the Lightning more time to really develop the young defenseman properly in the AHL. It's always nice, though, when he can pop in a couple of goals or hit the scoresheet like he did tonight along the way.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-22-18 Lightning at Oilers

Lightning complete Western Canada swing with impressive display of stamina.

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EDM-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Had a real highlight reel stop on McDavid in the First Period, but honestly wasn't called upon to make a ton of big saves despite all of Edmonton's firepower.

First Period
10:15 EDM Nugent-Hopkins (12), (McDavid, Puljujarvi)
17:09 TB Stamkos (19), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
2:50 EDM Chiasson (16), (Nurse, McDavid)(PP)
13:00 TB Kucherov (16), (unassisted)
14:32 TB Miller (7), (Cernak, Killorn)

Third Period
4:17 TB Johnson (15), (Point, Kucherov)
6:17 EDM Draisaitl (17), (McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins)
15:03 TB Stamkos (20), (Kucherov, Stralman)
18:35 TB Johnson (16), (Kucherov, Point)(EN)

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

Wow. What an impressive display by the Lightning tonight under the circumstances. They're at the end of an arduous four game road swing through Western Canada with Christmas beckoning. They had every incentive to call this a schedule loss. But, instead, they outshoot Edmonton 45-28 on the game and then blow them off the rink in the Third Period with the contest still in doubt.

I legit did not expect this team to get 7 of a possible 8 points on this road swing either. Between the travel and playing a different style of teams out west, I expected just a little cooling off. Nope. Still red hot. 37 games into the season they're sitting on 58 points. That would be a decent number after 47 games. This is a ridiculous pace through 37. I'm not ready to anoint the Lightning as anything, and over in the Metro Washington and Pittsburgh appear to be taking the season more seriously now that we're deep into December. There's challenges ahead for this Lightning team. But... this year feels different.

Danick Martel had 3 shots and 1 hit in 9:11.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 shots in 15:45. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Erik Cernak had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:27. I thought he was excellent tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-20-18 Lightning at Flames

Domingue shines late in Lightning comeback.

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CGY-4 (SO)

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 37 shots before stopping 6 of 7 in the PS session for the SO win. His first goal allowed was a soft goal that trickled through and behind him for an eventual tap in and his rebound control was something he absolutely seemed to struggle with most of the night. But, with that said, he started getting stronger into the Third Period and then absolutely stood on his head in Overtime and the Shootout, including one three save sequence in OT that should be on the highlight reel he shows his grandkids someday.

First Period
3:38 TB Palat (4), (Point, Kucherov)
4:29 CGY Bennett (6), (Tkachuk, Hanifin)
7:50 CGY Monahan (21), (Lindholm, Gaudreau)
12:25 CGY Backlund (6), (Bennett)

Second Period
3:19 TB Stamkos (18), (Erne, Kucherov)
5:52 TB Killorn (9), (Gourde, McDonagh)

Third Period
15:35 TB Girardi (3), (Cirelli)
17:32 CGY Gaudreau (16), (unassisted)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Hedman, Miller
CGY- Monahan

Nikita Kucherov was the game's second star.

Remarkable resilience from the Lightning to turn this one around and get two points with their backup netminder in and falling down 3-1 early after a flat start. I don't know if it was lack of familiarity with Calgary and what they do, the altitude, the travel, or a combination of those factors, but the Lightning just didn't look themselves in the First Period and it might've been easy for some other teams to pack it in after giving up three quick ones. The Lightning regrouped and came out storming in the Second Period to draw even and eventually got the full two points. Loved the effort and the resolve, with the same caveat as the Vancouver game: if the power play could've broken through this would've been a far less drama-filled affair.

Danick Martel had 2 shots in 9:07.

Anthony Cirelli was 50% on 16 draws in 15:02.

Adam Erne had a helper and was +1 with 3 hits in 9:00.

Erik Cernak had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 16:35. Not gonna mince words: that was an uncharacteristically rough performance by Cernak in terms of puck management.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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