Gourde, Yanni

NHL Game Night: 11-22-17 Blackhawks at Lightning

Lightning defies odds/adversity for impressive comeback win.

CHI-2
TB-3 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win. It was a rough start for Andrei allowing a semi-soft goal to Kane where he was off his angle and deep in his net. When the good ones give up a couple early, though, they tend to dig their heels in and shut the door the rest of the way. That happened tonight as Vasilevskiy made about 4-5 unbelievable stops to give the Lightning the chance to eventually pull out the win.

First Period
3:49 CHI Kane (7), (Anisimov, Rutta)
15:54 CHI Kane (8), (Franson, Keith)(PP)

Second Period
4:27 TB Palat (6), (Callahan, Hedman)(SH)

Third Period
0:31 TB Kunitz (3), (Coburn, Callahan)

Overtime
3:25 TB Point (9), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)(PP)

Brayden Point and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and third stars.

That's not exactly how you'd draw up a win against a NHL power like Chicago, but it's impressive nonetheless. The Lightning looked a little disjointed in the First Period while dealing with Dotchin being out of the lineup, Paquette being back in the lineup, and a Chicago team that's well coached and has a lot of speed. Adding to their peril was a semi-soft goal allowed by Vasilevskiy and a failed 5-on-3 bid that put them on the downside of Espo's Rule. Things looked bleak after 20 minutes, but they fought hard the rest of the way to eventually equalize and win it in Overtime.

One of the biggest elements of that comeback was the surprising play of the fourth line of Kunitz/Paquette/Callahan. Playing with a regular, natural centerman seemed to free the whole line up to just buzz around and grind, with Paquette throwing a tone-setting hit on Toews that seemed to propel that line's who game from there on out. Callahan, in particular, turned in one of those performances that reminds you of what he was at the prime of his career.

I think the most impressive thing about tonight was it was a different way of winning. The Lightning were forced to manufacture a couple of goals to get level rather than simply winning a track meet. These kind of victories can help build a valuable foundation for when the calendar gets into late March and April and games get tighter and more meaningful.

One downside from tonight that I'll mention after watching it for the past three or so games: Kucherov's got to stop trying to make the cute play and simplify his approach. He's making one more move and one more pass than he needs to. When he's in a scoring area, he needs to just rip it. And, when a play's not there, put it in spots in the corners and trust your bloodhounds Namestnikov and Stamkos will get in there, sniff out those loose pucks, and keep the attack alive in the offensive zone.

Tampa Bay starts off their third 10-game segment of the season with 2 big points. They need 10 in their next 9 to clinch a successful segment.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 blocked shot, and he was 40% on 5 draws.

Mikhail Sergachev had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 17:54. He was impressive tonight against a high caliber foe. Yes, there were a couple of plays that were a little riskier than I may have liked from a rookie blueliner, but he made them stick.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-18-17 Islanders at Lightning

Lightning rally gives false hope after flat start.

NYI-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the rare loss. I think he might want the second goal back, which appeared to go through him, but in fairness to him the defense was pretty rancid tonight.

First Period
0:51 NYI Ladd (4), (Tavares, Ho-Sang)
10:25 NYI Lee (10), (Tavares, Bailey)

Second Period
7:09 NYI Nelson (6), (Chimera, Pelech)

Third Period
1:05 NYI Lee (11), (Bailey, Barzal)(PP)
3:13 TB Gourde (5), (Point, Koekkoek)
3:26 TB Palat (5), (Point, Vasilevskiy)
16:24 TB Gourde (6), (Palat, Girardi)
19:38 NYI Tavares (14), (Cizikas, Bailey)(EN)

Yanni Gourde was the game's second star.

The Lightning were flat and looked unprepared for the game and the Islanders jumped on them and got the goal on the opening shift. The Lightning responded by opening up too much to try to get goals and ended up surrendering too many odd man rushes and found themselves behind the eight ball. They eventually got down 3 goals after 40 minutes, and as I've said many a time, it feels like 99 times out of 100 that's a death sentence for the team trailing in pro hockey. You may get within one, but you eventually lose and it happened again tonight.

The Lightning finish the second 10-game segment of the season 8 points ahead of playoff pace. Good news is, ending on a loss, I don't think anyone's got to warn the Lightning to get complacent. Segment three starts tomorrow with a record of 0-0-0. Twelve in ten: do it again.

Slater Koekkoek had a helper and was +2 with 1 hit in 9:01.

Gourde had a pair of goals and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:23.

Jake Dotchin was -3 with 2 shots in 12:18. Not going to sugar coat it: he stunk tonight. Getting beat like a dog out of the corner by Nelson on the third goal ultimately was the kill shot goal for the Islanders. He didn't cloak himself in glory with his play in this one.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:37. Had a lot of scoring chances in this game and was dynamic offensively.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-16-17 Stars at Lightning

Lightning pummel ex-mate Bishop in his return to Tampa.

DAL-1
TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. The typical formula applied. He made a handful of important situational saves early in the game, allowing the Lightning the time to start pulling away in the Second Period.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:47 TB Stamkos (9), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
3:34 DAL Faksa (4), (unassisted)
4:51 TB Sergachev (5), (Killorn, Johnson)
11:20 TB Point (8), (unassisted)(SH)

Third Period
3:57 TB Stamkos (10), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)
8:18 TB Dotchin (2), (Sergachev, Stamkos)
13:52 TB Kucherov (17), (Hedman, Stamkos)

Steven Stamkos, Mikhail Sergachev, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

Impressive showing by the Lightning. They showed no rust at all in the first game from a road trip, outskating and outpossessing Dallas by a significant margin in the First Period. The game got a lot more even in the Second Period as the Lightning took a few penalties, but the Lightning's special teams paid off with a PP and SH goal in the frame, and that allowed them to start to pull away. At 5 on 5, there's few teams that seem to be able to touch this team. On the power play, they're lethal. And, on the penalty kill, the injection of players like Point and Gourde have added a lethal element that gives teams very little respite. Some team or two is going to get their act together over the course of the season and lay down their marker as a potential contender, but right now the league is looking like the Tampa Bay Lightning and then everyone else so far this year.

With the victory, the Lightning stand at 32 points through 19 games, meaning with 1 game to go in the second 10-game segment of the year the Lightning have already banked 8 insurance points. Remarkable.

Yanni Gourde was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 21:33. He was also 40% on 5 draws.

Jake Dotchin had his second NHL goal and was +1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:21. Thought his goal was maybe a touch on the soft side, but he had a scoring chance earlier in the game where I thought he might've been a little luckier on the outcome, so these things even out.

Sergachev had a goal and an assist and was +3 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:16. His goal was kind of a lucky shot that deflected on a long point shot off a Dallas defender and went straight into the top corner. This is why Cooper preaches shooting the puck. The helper on Dotchin's goal was nothing fancy, but kind of epitomized how he played all night, using his mobility to support the play in all three zones.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-12-17 Lightning at Ducks

Dominant Lightning need some Vasilarceny to complete California sweep.

TB-2
ANH-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of saves to make in the first 40 minutes but found himself locked in an absolute duel with John Gibson standing on his head at the other end of the rink. The sealer was an theft of thefts by Vasilevskiy pushing to his left and robbing a one timer on the PK late in the Third Period. My gosh, what a save. I though he had no chance.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
9:12 TB Nametnikov (9), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
3:48 ANH Silfverberg (5), (Wagner, Cogliano)
7:18 TB Brown (1), (Kunitz, Callahan)

Vladislav Namestnikov and Victor Hedman were the game's second and third stars. Quite the spiteful, bitter, sour grapes move by the Anaheim media to snub Vasilevskiy from a star. Truly.

Tampa Bay deserved the victory tonight. The first 40 minutes of this contest were an absolute clinic. Tampa Bay had all of the puck and a ton of scoring chances and Gibson had to play one of the best games of his life just to hold Anaheim in the game. The Third Period was more of a Ducks period with the ice titled by score effects and the Lightning got an amazing goal from J.T. Brown and a ton of great saves by Vasilevskiy to get it over the finish line.

The Lightning only won 48% of their draws tonight, but that's better than I'd have thought with this many young centermen playing against any team that has Antoine Vermette. Pleasant surprise.

Tampa Bay clinches another successful 10-game segment of the season with the win, now sitting at 13 points through 8 games of the segment. They also pot 1 insurance point giving them 6 insurance points on the season with 2 games left to rack up more in this segment.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots in 16:16. He was also 40% on 5 draws.

Jake Dotchin had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:48.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:18. He's going to want to burn the tape of that Third Period. Made a poor turnover on Anaheim's only goal and another in the Ducks zone later in the period that led to a 2-on-1 where Vasilevskiy had to make a dynamite save to bail him out. Bad Sergachev makes poor decisions and/or is too light on his stick passing it. I haven't seen bad Sergachev much recently, but he snuck on the rink in the final frame tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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