Erne, Adam

NHL Game Night: 3-27-17 Blackhawks at Lightning

Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.

CHI-4
TB-5 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 goals for the win. He was actually pulled toward the end of the opening frame for Petr Budaj, who stopped the 3 shots he faced, but Cooper re-inserted Vasilevskiy and eventually got the payoff in the form of two key breakaway saves including the save of the game denying Kane on a breakaway move that he scores on 99 out of 100 goaltenders on the planet. Not Vasilarceniy tonight, however.

First Period
1:23 CHI Panarin (25), (Kero)
9:29 TB Palat (16), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 CHI Kane (34), (Hjalmarsson, Keith)
13:41 CHI Jurco (1), (Schmaltz)

Second Period
8:47 CHI Panik (21), (VanRiemsdyk, Schmaltz)
11:45 TB Drouin (19), (Killorn, Stralman)
12:47 TB Stralman (4), (McKegg, Palat)
16:24 TB Drouin (20), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)

Yanni Gourde, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

My God. What did we just witness? Every once in a while something happens in sports that you think can't happen, but by shear force of will a player or a team makes it happen. When Richard Panik put the Lightning down 4-1 around the middle of the Second Period of this game, the Lightning season looked completely dead and over. It's not just that the Lightning had fallen behind an opponent by three goals with about half the game to make up the deficit, but it was against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was against a defensive corps we all watched strangle this Lightning team to death in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of years ago. There should have been no way they would surrender a 3 goal lead, and especially so to a Tampa Bay club that looked sloppy and disorganized for most of the first 30 minutes and couldn't get out of its own way.

I give a lot of credit to Jon Cooper and, more importantly, to the character of this team. They could've flat given up right there and I might not have blamed them. Instead, the team resolved to turn the remaining ~35 minutes of hockey in this game into a breathtaking demonstration of the brand of Lightning hockey we've rarely seen this season but know these players are capable. Speed? Yes. Skill? Yes. But, more importantly, a suffocating dedication to puck pursuit and denying the opposition time, space, and passing lanes. The Lightning started to crawl all over the Blackhawks like a troop of extremely pissed off fire ants in all three zones and eventually made the breaks they needed to get 2 points that looked impossible just an hour and a half or so ago. That forecheck tonight, in particular... my goodness. When they forecheck like that there's not a team on earth that can stand up to the pressure.

The Lightning move to just 1 point behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot, and they've got another game against Jack Edwards and The Spoked Satan left on the schedule. The dream of a Lightning playoff berth refuses to die.

Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. He had a hit on Hossa tonight that you rarely see do that much damage against a guy as sturdy on his skates as Hossa is.

Gregg McKegg had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:20. A comeback like this rarely comes without some secondary scoring help from the lower lines, and McKegg supplied the key play around the net that led to Stralman's goal.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 20:40.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:41.

Gourde, the man of the hour, had the OT GWG shooting forehand on a breakaway. He also had 1 shot in his 16:30 of ice time and was 27% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 2 hits in 11:15. Even without gaudy stat lines, I can't underscore enough how important the minutes and work Dumont, Erne, and Vermin put in tonight. They were active, tenacious, and they didn't let up on Chicago as the Lightning comeback continued to sweep over Chicago. You would think a team like Chicago's depth would be able to take advantage of some of these Lightning callups, and it was the other way around tonight. Guys like Erne were looking to take their lunch money.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

TB-2
DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

Overtime
3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

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

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.

TB-6
BOS-3

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)

Third Period
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.

Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-22-17 Coyotes at Lightning

The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.

ARI-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)

Second Period
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)

Third Period
4:45 ARI Ekman-Larsson (12), (Domi, Duclair)
6:39 ARI Vrbata (18), (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson)
18:24 ARI Murphy (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Full disclosure: the power went off at my house about 15 minutes through the Second Period and didn't come back until late last night. So, the lights went out at my house shortly before they probably went out on the Lightning. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't have to witness that Third Period slide into the abyss. In a way, it's fitting. I declared the Lightning season more or less dead when the team got blown out in Arizona with one of the more feckless efforts of the season. At that point, the math simply didn't work out for a happy ending for the Lightning, and while they did an amazing job to play themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot the fact is there's been far too many nights like this one where the team didn't mind its details against opponents of all stripes and got lit up on the scoreboard. And, it's because of that the team is (probably) heading for early tee times this offseason and a lot of reflection on what might have been.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:53.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:17.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:32. He was also 80% on 10 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. He too was 80% on 10 draws.

Adam Erne had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:50.

Joel Vermin had 2 shots in 11:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-18-17 Capitals at Lightning

Lightning run into a juggernaut, see playoff hopes harmed.

WSH-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
3:44 WSH Oshie (27), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
11:52 WSH Oshie (28), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
15:52 TB Kucherov (32), (Palat, Point)(PP)
16:08 TB Killorn (17), (Drouin)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
3:14 WSH Williams (20), (Niskanen, Burakovsky)
5:30 WSH Carlson (8), (Oshie, Backstrom)
18:30 TB Kucherov (33), (Point)
19:16 WSH Oshie (29), (Backstrom)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Valiant effort by the Lightning still playing with darn near all their centers out of the lineup and really testing the East's best team. Were it not for a bit of embellishment that led to the call in the Third Period that led to Williams' goal shortly after its conclusion, Tampa Bay might've well gotten points out of the evening.

Unfortunately, with the standings predicament the Lightning are in, there are no moral victories. They're running out of road quickly.

Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 7:19

Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes and was 60% on 10 draws in 8:44. McKegg is now a couple of games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 3 hits in 19:40.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:58.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 33% on 15 draws in 15:17.

Adam Erne had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:19.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-14-17 Lightning at Senators

The stuff that dreams are made of.

TB-2
OTT-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. It's overshadowed by the heroics at the other end by Condon, but what Vasilevskiy did again tonight was make every situational save asked of him to get the Lightning their chance at the winner's circle.

First Period
3:05 TB Point (12), (Dotchin, Coburn)

Second Period
2:35 OTT Wingels (7), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:05 TB Hedman (14), (Palat)

Victor Hedman was the game's second star.

Facing near impossible odds in their quest for a playoff spot, the Lightning look like a locked in team that is already playing postseason hockey. Tonight's challenges: 1.) Get road points in a back to back after a tough game against the Rangers last night, 2.) Again play short of centermen with Vlad Namestnikov back on the shelf, 3.) Solve a netminder in Mike Condon who decided to lose his mind tonight with ten bell save after ten bell save. Amazingly, the team never showed the effects of #1 or #2 and eventually they got the one they needed to solve #3. Now, after all the heavy lifting is done, they find themselves tied for the 8th spot in the East after being left for dead a month ago. The dream lives for the Lightning, with a lot of heavy lifting still left to do.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 7:51.

Greg McKegg had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04. He was also 45% on 11 draws.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 19:13.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 11:22.

Yanni Gourde had 4 shots in 20:20. He's playing so well on this recall and he hasn't shown signs of hitting a wall yet.

Adam Erne had 3 shots and 7 hits in 8:30.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-13-17 Lightning at Rangers

Lightning scratch out 2 key road points.

TB-3
NYR-2

Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He's been rock solid all year for LA and he's been just as good since the trade over to Tampa Bay.

First Period
5:53 NYR Kampfer (1), (Zuccarello, Kreider)
7:43 TB Point (10), (Kucherov, Drouin)(PP)

Second Period
5:04 TB Dumont (2), (Garrison)
10:22 NYR Grabner (22), (unassisted)

Third Period
13:21 TB Point (11), (Palat, Kucherov)

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

Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:49. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:12.

Gabriel Dumont had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:07.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:10.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 hit in 12:22.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-11-17 Panthers at Lightning

No centers? No problem.

FLA-2
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the victory. The good ones respond to giving up a couple of early goals by shutting the door the rest of the way. This is about the 3rd or 4th time I can recall this season that Vasiy showed that kind of resiliency and mettle.

First Period
16:32 FLA Jagr (14), (Barkov, Marchessault)
19:13 FLA Pysyk (4), (Smith, Barkov)

Second Period
3:43 TB Kucherov (31), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:11 TB Gourde (1), (unassisted)(SH)

Third Period
17:37 TB Palat (14), (Sustr)

Ondrej Palay, Vasilevskiy, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Tampa Bay responded to bad luck and adversity with gutty brilliance tonight in a fashion that should make every Lightning fan proud of their team. They played a great First Period but found themselves on the unlucky end of a couple of greasy goals by the Panthers and some hot goaltending by Reimer (who actually played a whale of a game despite the loss). The Lightning didn't sag in the Second Period, as a lesser team would, and quickly cut the lead in half with the ubiquitous Nikita Kucherov power play goal. about 6 minutes later Gourde made one of the more fantastic individual plays you'll ever see to get the shorthanded goal with a defender draped all over him. Things got hairy almost immediately thereafter, though, when Andrey Sustr took a high sticking call that put the Lightning down 2 men and in danger of immediately surrendering the momentum. Remember, this is a team that dealt off two of its supposedly best PK'ers in Boyle and Filppula and has others like Paquette sitting on the shelf injured at the moment. To not allow a goal there set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Espo Rule victory pre-saged the eventual Lightning win in the Third Period, which was partially made possible by an amazing post to post save by Vasilevskiy on Sceviour late in the frame.

Tampa Bay sits at 73 points with 15 games left to go in the campaign. To reach a magic 96 points, they'll need 23 of a remaining 30 points or a .767 winning percentage. It may take a few less points than that to actually make the postseason, but you get the point about how steep the hill is. They've still got to play about .750 hockey the rest of the way to give themselves a chance.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 7:40.

Gregg McKegg was 63% on 8 draws in 7:38.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 2 hits in 19:30.

Gabriel Dumont had 5 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 9:24. He and Stralman lowered the boom to knock a couple of Panthers out of the game and set a physical tone tonight.

Matthew Peca was 0% on 7 draws in 10:39. Yikes.

Gourde had his first NHL goal and 2 shots in 17:09. He's been a completely different player in this callup. You wouldn't have known he was even in the lineup in his previous cups of coffee, but he's been a difference maker the past couple of outings.

Adam Erne had a clean sheet in 13:01. Might be hitting a wall in terms of his effectiveness on this recall.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-9-17 Wild at Lightning

Lightning dominance overshadowed by centerman attrition.

MIN-1
TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 33 shots for a dominating victory. He gave Minnesota nothing. He was in absolute command and it took a goofy bounce for Minnesota to stave off his shutout bid. That's two straight games where Vasiy has only allowed a single goal. Hard to lose when you do that.

First Period
6:53 TB Kucherov (29), (Hedman, Palat)(PP)
11:01 TB Hedman (13), (Drouin, Dotchin)

Second Period
4:37 TB Sustr (2), (Kucherov, Johnson)

Third Period
16:02 MIN Scandella (4), (Brodin, Koivu)
18:51 TB Kucherov (30), (Gourde)(EN)

Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

That was probably the most dominant game the Lightning have played against a quality opponent all season. The end result was never really in doubt and even as the Lightning were seeing their players drop like flies, their lower liners stepped up and continued to keep the game under total control. Unfortunately, it's dubious whether that kind of "next man up" success is replicable over the rest of the course of the season. Vladislav Namestnikov was the first to go down after going skates first into the board on a play that could be anything from a broken ankle to a knee. To my eyes, that looked like a season ender. Tyler Johnson was the next to go on a knee to knee hit from Nino Niederreiter. Johnson when down like a dropped sack of potatoes, and I'm hopeful he's the one of the three that can get back faster, but it didn't look great. Third to go was Cedric Paquette, who appeared to give himself a high ankle sprain tackling a Wild forward in the slot on a defensive zone play. That may come pretty close to ending his season given the slim number of games the team has left on the schedule. So, the Lightning are going to have to scramble just to find bodies at that position. McKegg can go back into the lineup and they'll probably immediately recall Matthew Peca. Ultimately, though, it may take Steven Stamkos donning the Superman cape and coming back from IR in the next 2 weeks and playing well just to keep the team's slim playoff hopes alive. It's either that or get Brian Bradley off the buffet line.

Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 16:33.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 8:21. He was also 63% on 8 draws.

Yanni Gourde had a helper in 16:35 and was on the ice defending the 6 on 5 at the end of the contest.

Adam Erne had 2 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 14:20. He had a really strong First Period, drawing the penalty that led to Kucherov's opening goal, but once the carnage started in the Second Period, it seemed like the line shuffling hurt the continuity Erne was forming with his linemates.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-6-17 Rangers at Lightning

Lightning Raanta'ed again.

NYR-1
TB-0 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 34 shots for the painfully hard luck OT loss. He was overshadowed by Raanta at the other end, but Vasiy was equally brilliant in a high pressure goaltending duel.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
3:56 NYR Zibanejad (9), (McDonagh)

Vasilevskiy was the game's first star.

The Lightning played very hard wire to wire and just lost to a hot goaltender. You can complain about decision-making with the puck late in the Third Period and into Overtime, but many nights you blow doors off with a 3:2 shot attempt/possession advantage and Vasilevskiy playing that well. The shame is the Lightning are in a spot where they just can't surrender the odd point on a night like this and realistically stay alive for the playoffs.

Luke Witkowski had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:54. That fight was an epic. We're talking about one that rightfully should go alongside some of those old Rudy Poeschek v. Paul Laus brawls.

Jake Dotchin had 3 shots and 2 hits in 20:25.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes for a nasty boarding call, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:15. He was also 43% on 7 draws.

Yanni Gourde played 10:09. Blank stat line doesn't tell the tale, because he was active at both ends of the rink. This was probably his best NHL game in his time in the Lightning organization.

Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 6 shots, and 2 hits in 11:32. 6 shots in under 12 minutes tells you what you need to know. He was very active tonight. Looked really good.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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