Cernak, Erik

NHL Game Night: 12-6-18 Bruins at Lightning

Lightning close out third 10-game segment of the season with a Third Period flourish.

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TB-3

Louis Domingue allowed 2 goals on 35 shots for the win. I think having a little rest by getting the night off against Detroit did him a lot of good. He just looked sharper and more comfortable tonight. Rested and ready.

First Period
2:04 BOS Pastrnak (20), (Cave)
14:59 TB Point (21), (Kucherov, Johnson)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
2:40 TB Joseph (9), (Killorn, Girardi)
4:03 TB Cirelli (5), (unassisted)(SH)
18:15 BOS Krejci (3), (Pastrnak, Backes)

Mathieu Joseph and Domingue were the game's first and second stars.

It was a 50/50 game for 40 minutes, and then the Lightning just flipped the switch and absolutely seemed to take over in the Third Period. The shot totals don't reflect it because of late score effects, but Tampa Bay seemed to just blow the doors off Boston when money time came.

With 30 games in the books the Lightning now have 45 points, meaning they're a stylish 9 points ahead of minimum pace to make the playoffs. That's good stuff as they reset going into the fourth 10-game segment with the task of once again trying to get at least 12 points over this next stretch. 12 in 10, do it again.

Joseph had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:00. Tonight was a big IT game for him and he still only got 13 minutes, which is remarkable when you consider he's flirting with a 20 goal pace on 11-12 minutes of ice time a night. Beautiful finish in tight to slip it through Rask in close quarters tonight.

Anthony Cirelli had a SH goal and was +2 with 1 shot and 1 hit and he was 70% on 10 draws. He absolutely abused Rask on the deke for his shorthander.

Erik Cernak had 1 shot and 4 hits in 20:00 flat.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-4-18 Lightning at Red Wings

Yet another franchise that can't get out of their way against the Lightning no matter what the odds are gets demoralized by Tampa Bay.

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DET-5 (SO)

Eddie Pasquale allowed 5 goals on 24 shots before stopping 2 of 3 in the Shootout for the win in his first NHL start. I'm on the record as saying I'd have given Connor Ingram this start because he's the legit NHL prospect. I don't think Pasquale did much to make me a liar the way he leaked some soft goals and big rebounds all game, but in the end he stepped it up in the SO and got the victory.

First Period
16:54 DET Nyquist (5), (Larkin)
17:15 DET Nielsen (2), (Athanasiou)

Second Period
5:10 TB Joseph (7), (Callahan)
11:37 TB Joseph (8), (Gourde)
13:33 DET Nielsen (3), (Witkowski)
14:27 TB Stamkos (10), (Callahan)
16:26 DET Nielsen (4), (Athanasiou)

Third Period
4:06 DET Nyquist (6), (Larkin, Abdelkader)
9:50 TB Miller (6), (Sergachev)
14:58 TB Paquette (7), (Joseph)(SH)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Hedman, Kucherov
DET- Nyquist

Mathieu Joseph was the game's second star. Well deserved.

Tampa Bay's on the downside of a back-to-back playing their organization's fourth string goaltender, in essence, and Detroit had a pair of two goal leads in this game. Easiest thing in the world would've been for the Lightning to just get back on the bus. But, the depth and the want-to still overcame all the obstacles and picked up another two points.

Joseph with a cream of the crop stat line: 2 goals, 1 assist, +4, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 12:15. His most impactful NHL game thus far. Made an outstanding individual play on his first goal on a one handed chip over the netminder that had shades of that classic Vincent Lecavalier goal against the Thrashers back in the day. Got a tap in from a foot out after Gourde forced a turnover behind the cage and Joseph had an open net to shoot into. And then he set up the big SH tying goal by Paquette by sucking two defenders to him with his speed and hustle so the puck could squirt to the wide open chance for Dump Truck. Tour de force. He's flirting with a 20 goal pace and he's only playing 11-12 minutes a game.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:57 and he was 50% on 10 draws.

Erik Cernak had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in a personal high 21:55 of ice time. Played well soaking up the extra responsibility tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-3-18 Lightning at Devils

Lightning break New Jersey's will en route to season sweep.

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NJ-1

Louis Domingue allowed just 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. It was Louis' best performance in a while. He didn't have a ton of work, but when it id come his way he looked far calmer and under control tonight.

First Period
13:31 TB Kucherov (12), (Point, McDonagh)
19:34 TB Point (20), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
8:20 TB Johnson (11), (McDonagh, Kucherov)
11:26 NJ Yakovlev (1), (Vatanen, Noesen)
12:39 TB Gourde (10), (Stamkos, Palat)(PP)

Third Period
0:20 TB Stamkos (9), (Point, Kucherov)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Domingue were the game's three stars.

Feels like if the Lightning played the Devils 100 times they'd win at least 95 of those games. It's just been complete dominance by Tampa Bay since that playoff series a year ago and this year the games simply have not been close. The depth and quality of the Lightning just eclipses the Devils' to such a wide degree.

Tampa Bay, by my count, clinches another successful 10-game segment of the season with two games remaining in the frame to add insurance points to the five they already hold on the campaign.

Mathieu Joseph had 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:41.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 14:14. He was also 40% on 10 draws.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:49. Sure does look like he might run Koekkoek off this roster once Anton Stralman returns.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-1-18 Lightning at Panthers

The Florida Panthers: always there for a good laugh.

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FLA-4 (OT)

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the OT victory. My man needs a rest. He's admitted in the media he's physically fatigued, and whether he's willing to admit it or not, physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue. His First Period allowing 2 on 3 shots and letting in 3 of the first 7 just isn't defensible. I get he made some key Third Period saves and a big toe save in OT, but with replacement-level goaltending the Lightning probably win that game in regulation in a walk. He's overextended. They're asking the man to carry too much of a burden and he's cracking a bit under the weight of it. Give him a night to recharge his batteries. Please.

First Period
10:23 FLA Vatrano (8), (Dadonov, Matheson)
10:34 FLA Barkov (10), (Huberdeau)
11:18 TB Killorn (5), (Sergachev, Coburn)

Second Period
2:11 FLA Huberdeau (6), (unassisted)
8:04 FLA Dadonov (12), (Yandle, Hoffman)(PP)
13:00 TB Joseph (6), (Kucherov, Girardi)
19:00 TB Kucherov (11), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
11:41 TB Paquette (6), (unassisted)

Overtime
3:12 TB Point (19), (Kucherov, Johnson)(PP)

Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

That was in no way, shape, or form a Picasso by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but there's still something so satisfying about still cutting the Panthers' hearts out even when the team brings its B- game to the rink. There were simply too many turnovers in the neutral zone tonight and just a horrible job of managing the puck in the center third overall. There's just no excuse gifting an opposing club odd man rushes and breakaways, especially when you know your backup goaltender behind you is sucking wind after playing ten straight games. But, against the boys from that empty rink in Sunrise, the Lightning seem to always find a way to turn a fiasco into a reaffirmation of the cosmic order that demands that the Panthers and their fan(s) must suffer. That team plays the Lightning like it's Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final seeming every time the two teams meet, and nearly every time they find a new and exciting way to wet the bed and let the Lightning escape with two points. Tonight, once Kucherov scored on the PP to further narrow the Panthers' once commanding three goal lead to just a single goal before the Second Intermission, you knew this game was going to only end in one way: heartbreak for the Florida Panthers, the handful of people who show up to their games to be surrounded by a bevy of unfilled red seats, and the propagandists Fox Sports Florida employs to pretend they're a real NHL team. And Lord, do I love it.

Mathieu Joseph had a scorcher of a goal to start the comeback and was +2 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 9:08.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 4 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:51. He was also a stylish 73% on 11 draws.

Erik Cernak had 2 hits and 6 blocked shots in 21:10. This was the first game in the Cernak's stint up top with Tampa Bay that I thought he had some rough moments. That it happened this deep into his first run with the team, and the fact the coaching staff still entrusted him with over 21 minutes of IT anyway, speaks volumes about the quality of his play overall.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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