By any means necessary.
Andrei Vasilvskiy allowed 1 goal on 32 shots before stopping 2 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. I thought Vasilevskiy fought it a little at times in this game, but got stronger as it went on and really grinded out the W. He had to, because Lehner was standing on his head part of the night at the other end of the rink. That's another quality start now that he's "the man". Encouraging.
19:48 BUF O'Reilly (15), (Ristolainen, Eichel)(PP)
2:37 TB Johnson (19), (Hedman, Kucherov[/b]
TB- Point, Kucherov
Vasilevskiy and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars.
It was another disappointingly flat First Period for the Lightning, their 3rd in the last 4 contests, but the team got stronger as it wore on. All in all, this was a classic road win where the team really grinded out the victory. Pretty? No. Effective? Yes. Brayden Point continues to be money in the Shootout and Nikita Kucherov sent the Buffalo faithful to the exits with a gutsy fake whiff on a deke that he slid harmlessly through Lehner's five hole to secure the second point. If you make a move like that, you either score or get choked out by Jon Cooper. There's probably no in between.
68 points now for Tampa Bay puts them 3 points out of the final wild card spot and 6 points out of the final divisional spot with a game in hand on Boston. They're 28 points shy of 96 with 36 points still available. That'd be a .778 win percentage to get there. Still a tough road to go with very little margin for error.
Luke Witkowski had 3 hits in 9:51... playing forward. My scouting report on Witkowski as a forward? Well, he's definitely a north-south kind of winger, that much is for sure.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 18:18. His night's work included accidentally knocking Kulikov out of the game when the two ran into each other inadvertently behind the net. That should give you an idea how big and strong Dotchin is. His upper body strength is pretty impressive. He barely had any time to brace himself and he did that.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 4 hits in 8:03. He was also 29% on 7 draws.
Adam Erne had 1 hit in 11:32. Mixed bag tonight, but he nearly set up a key goal with some creativity behind the Buffalo cage that got Namestnikov a wide open chance that Vladislav probably should've buried.
Reasonable Lightning road effort falls apart in the end.
Peter Budaj allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss in his Lightning debut. He was very good, and probably deserved a better fate than he got on this night.
6:18 TB Erne (1), Namestnikov, Paquette)
8:39 PIT Malkin (27), (Kessel, Schultz)(PP)
16:49 PIT Malkin (28), (Kessel, Cole)
1:10 TB Kucherov (28), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
2:38 PIT Streit (6), (Crosby, Malkin)
16:37 PIT Schultz (10), (Crosby, Streit)(PP)
19:00 PIT Kuhnhackl (4), (Bonino)(EN)
Tampa Bay played pretty well up until they got the Erne goal in the Second Period. They showed they could hang with the defending champs, but took their foot off the gas once they got a lead and eventually found themselves down heading into the final frame. Kucherov got the game even on the power play early in the Third Period, but the team again sagged after scoring the goal and Pittsburgh quickly regained the lead. Drouin set up Kucherov for point blank chances on two different sequences in the middle of the period, but he couldn't capitalize and that ultimately was the game. The game was a lot closer and better played than the score indicated. Unfortunately, the Lightning's standings position means moral victories are worth less than nothing. Only points matter right now.
Greg McKegg was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 8:25. He was also 60% on 5 draws.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:56.
Gabriel Dumont had 4 hits in 7:59.
Adam Erne had his first NHL goal and point and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:35. His like on Paquette/Namestnikov/Erne faded in the Third Period, but they looked pretty strong for much of the first two periods and may merit keeping an eye on over the next few games. They were quite good.
Lightning weather awful performance to pull out a win.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Another performance where he held the team in the game with his performance in the First Period. All three goals came on deflections, so altogether another quality start.
7:58 TB Hedman (11), (Kucherov, Palat)(PP)
11:51 CAR Hanifin (3), (Lindholm, Aho)
14:54 CAR Ryan (9), (Hanifin, Rask)(PP)
10:51 TB Johnson (18), (Dotchin, Palat)
15:18 TB Kucherov (27), (Johnson, Garrison)
17:23 CAR McClement (5), (Slavin, Lindholm)(SH)
0:46 TB Hedman (12), (Kucherov, Johnson)
Garbage performance by the Lightning and they got away with it. They came out flat as a pancake again after more trade drama with the departure of Valtteri Filppula earlier in the day. As bad as those 4 shots on goal were in the First Period, they actually managed only 3 in the Third Period. Just a really mentally soft, really emotionally bankrupt effort that they stole 2 points out of.
So, how high is the hill now? Well, the Lightning have pulled within 30 points of magic number 96. The math's actually simple at this hour with 20 games left to go: get 30 of a remaining 40 possible points. Playing .750 remains a pretty tough ask, but they've been playing at that clip for the past couple of weeks, and if Stamkos can return in mid to late March... look, it's nice to dream.
New addition Greg McKegg had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 8:14.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 20:07. The key goal to knot the game at 2-2 came on a Dotchin bomb from the point that deflected down and in off Tyler Johnson's skate. Big goal from a big shot. Dotchin's strong as an ox and it shows in his slapper.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 hit in 8:32.
Adam Erne had 4 hits in 15:12. 4 shots attempted on goal, but couldn't get any on frame.
New look Lightning survive sleepy start to annihilate Ottawa.
Andrei Vasilevskiy began life as the presumptive number one goaltender in Tampa Bay with a 39/40 command performance for the win that included some pure Vasilarceniy in the First Period to allow his team to keep contact and eventually secure the win. That's about all you could ask for from Andrei in his first night as "the man."
6:26 OTT Turris (22), (Karlsson, Hoffman)(PP)
1:39 TB Point (9), (unassisted)
5:37 TB Kucherov (24), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:26 TB Kucherov (25), (Drouin, Johnson)(PP)
19:46 TB Kucherov (26), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:57 TB Coburn (3), (Kucherov, Johnson)
Nikita Kucherov, Vasilevskiy, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Kucherov had the natural hat trick and a four point night overall and appears to be fully back to unstoppable form after a very pedestrian middle part of his campaign. When Kucherov is Kucherov, the Lightning are awfully hard to beat.
The Lightning, probably reeling from the trades of veterans Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle, frankly looked lost in the First Period tonight. It took Vasilevskiy stepping up in that opening frame just to give the team a chance because honestly an ordinary goaltending performance would've left them run out of their own barn. A good forecheck on an early shift in the Second Period led to an awful turnover into the slot that led to a Brayden Point quick release goal, and from that point on the Lightning looked like a giant weight had been lifted off of them. Here's the thing about when veterans move out of your locker room: sometimes the vacuum actually gives oxygen to your younger players to step up and take bigger leadership roles. Point and Drouin, in particular, had great body language in that Second Period and you hope they seize the opportunity now to fill the void and imprint their identity on the Lightning now moving forward.
There's still a long way to go to the deadline on Wednesday and a few veteran contracts the Lightning would probably not mind getting out from under if they could, so there could be more changes in the offing. But for now, so far so good. Standings-wise, Tampa Bay needs 32 of a possible 42 remaining points to get to 96 for the season, which would be a colossal task. We're probably still in diagnostic mode the rest of the campaign, but if the Lightning can make this interesting down the stretch it only bodes well for the future. One pretty nice thing about tonight's game is it got the Lightning to dead even in goal differential this year. It'd be nice to be on the plus side at the end of the year, and that seems do-able.
Jake Dotchin had 2 hits in 16:56. I think you saw his minutes logically trimmed back against a quicker Eastern Conference team. Makes sense.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 5:50. Got 5 minutes worth for the price of 2 in that fight with Wideman. Wideman slashed Dumont's stick out of his hand and was promptly fed a sneaky upercut after the two dropped the gloves before Dumont ragdolled Wideman the rest of the bout. Pound for pound, Dumont showed me something there.
Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 13:33. He looks really comfortable at the NHL level already, and I hope he stays in Tampa Bay the rest of the way to see if he can keep developing and stick in Tampa Bay for good heading into next year. With Boyle gone, he brings an element of size and strength down low the team will need.
Crunch score a pair of goals in the final 1:11 to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 23 shots. Blew a Third Period lead giving up 2 goals. Got the goal support with 2 goals thereafter to get it back. Clean living.
11:05 RCH Austin (2), (Nelson, Kennedy)
19:11 SYR Peca (7), (Comrie, Taormina)(PP)
6:44 RCH Schneider (19), (O'Reilly, Fedun)(PP)
7:11 SYR Vermin (12), (Ward)
17:16 SYR Lynch (2), (Halmo, Vermin)
1:27 RCH Fasching (5), (Burgdoerfer, Grant)
12:49 RCH Fasching (6), (Mullen, Grant)
18:49 SYR Erne (14), (Peca, Comrie)(PP)
19:54 SYR Gourde (19), (Condra, Peca)
Adam Erne got the late equalizer on the power play. Since returning from injury he has a stylish 6 goals and 9 points in 7 games.
Syracuse is tied atop the North Division with Albany at 64 points with 2 games in hand on the Devils. Toronto lurks 2 points back with the Crunch holding a single game in hand on the Marlies.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch avenge last night's embarrassment.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the victory.
5:33 SYR Thomas (2), (Vermin, Koekkoek)
8:51 SYR Erne (12), (Comrie, Taormina)(PP)
11:42 SYR Darcy (3), (Brodeur)
9:54 STJ Terry (19), (Friberg, Johnston)(PP)
0:54 SYR Erne (13), (Condra, Taormina)(PP)
5:27 STJ Hudon (18), (Terry, Johnston)(PP)
5:47 STJ Terry (20), (Scherbak, Redmond)(PP)
11:28 SYR Halmo (14), (Gourde, Vermin)
Adam Erne and Yanni Gourde were the game's second and third stars. In 5 games since returning from injury, Erne has 5 goals and 7 points. He's making a play to get another callup to Tampa Bay before the end of the year.
A wise old hockey man once told me how incredibly difficult it is to beat a team on back-to-back days if you humiliate them in the first game. Pride kicks in. That's about what happened today.
Syracuse moved 1 point back of Albany for the top spot in the North Division with 2 games in hand on the Devils.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Adam Erne looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.
The Syracuse Crunch forward missed a little more than a month with a lower body injury, but was able to return to the lineup last weekend. Erne recorded three points in a 5-2 win over Rochester Saturday, and added a goal in Sunday’s 3-2 victory in Utica.
Erne is focused on consistency as he pushes for a spot in the NHL.
“It’s just a matter of getting back in a game and getting used to the speed and whatnot,” Erne said of his return. “Luckily, it didn’t take too long. Now it’s just a matter of doing it night in and night out.”
Crunch finds the antidote to rid themselves of UTI.
Kristers Gudlevskis put on a show, turning aside 39 of 41 shots for the win, therby helping Syracuse overcome a 41-17 shot deficit.
6:54 SYR Erne (11), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
5:52 SYR Gourde (18), (Conacher)(SH)
10:12 UTI Rendulic (5), (Kunyk, Grenier)(PP)
13:25 SYR Vermin (11), (Peca)
13:52 UTI Pedan (3), (Archibald)
Gudlevskis and Joel Vermin were the game's first and second stars.
Adam Erne now has goals in each of his two games since returning from injury. You can't help but wonder if his cup of coffee with the Lightning gave him an extra jolt of confidence that's showing up in his play. He's a first round caliber talent if he puts it all together.
Syracuse moves 1 point up on Albany for the top spot in the North Division with the win.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Erne's return spurs crushing Crunch win.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.
2:28 SYR Gourde (17), (Taormina, Conacher)(PP)
3:34 SYR Darcy (2), (Letourneau-Leblond, Morin)
4:38 RCH Baptiste (19), (Schneider, Burgdoerfer)
3:43 SYR Erne (9), (Koekkoek, Gourde)
14:54 RCH Austin (1), (Schneider, O'Reilly)
4:09 SYR Conacher (10), (Peca, Erne)(PP)
19:36 SYR Erne (10), (Taormina)(PP)(EN)
Syracuse still sits 1 point back of Albany for tops in the North Division with 2 games in hand on the Devils.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Better effort. Crushing result.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 40 shots for the loss. He actually played really well for the first 40 minutes of this contest, but a guy can only face so many breakaways, odd man rushes, and unmarked defenders with point blank chances. At this point, his confidence looks shot and the Lightning may be unnecessarily toying with the prospect of ruining a young player the hockey world had thought was incapable of being ruined.
2:19 TB Drouin (12), (Filppula, Hedman)
6:44 PIT Sheary (10), (Rust, Crosby)
11:14 PIT Fehr (5), (Cullen)
2:33 PIT Kunitz (4), (Maatta, Bonino)
3:28 PIT Wilson (5), (unassisted)
5:40 TB Namestnikov (5), (Drouin, Stralman)(PP)
7:50 PIT Kessel (13), (Crosby, Sheary)
17:20 PIT Letang (3), (Schultz, Cullen)(PP)
For 40+ minutes tonight was a much more spirited effort than we've seen of late. Imperfect, but the effort level and urgency level was there. Vlad Namestnikov even had a wide open wraparound that looked like a sure goal that would've knotted the game at 2-2 early in the Third Period. He blew the chance and then the wheels came off with the Lightning playing their 3rd in 4 days. This is a team that's played as much hockey as any team in hockey over the last 2.5 years and one that has largely had the same group of guys for that run with very few changes by Steve Yzerman. That probably has contributed to their proneness to injury and it probably explains how mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained they've looked over this death march through the middle part of the season. Should they not find a way to snap out of it soon, wholesale changes will need to be made in the offseason. Rebuilding? No. But likely a retooling of the defense and lower lines, along with a strategic move or two on the scoring lines to inject something fresh into a stale and struggling group of players that need... something.
Luke Witkowski was -2 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:16.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 11:10.
Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:08. He was also 55% on 11 draws. I thought he had a small rebound today after two subpar games in a row the last couple of times out.
Adam Erne had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19. His linemates need to get used to how crafty he is passing the puck out of the corners and in behind the attacking cage.