Johnson, Tyler

NHL Game Night: 12-21-13 Hurricanes at Lightning

Large kitchen sink eventually crushes Justin Peters.

CAR-2
TB-3 (OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the OT win. I'm shocked Carolina even had 27 shots in this one. The game seemed totally slanted, especially during the first 30 minutes. Bishop could've read the paper, had a cup of coffee, smoked a cigarette, broke into Khabi's old stash of Pedialite, and still had time to shoot dice with Chief.

First Period
4:35 CAR Tlusty (5), (Dwyer, Nash)
16:12 TB Hedman (7), (Filppula, Killorn)

Second Period
10:11 CAR Tlusty (6), (Staal, Hainsey)(SH)

Third Period
7:56 TB St Louis (15), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)

Overtime
2:16 TB Gudas (2), (Thompson)

Victor Hedman was the game's second star. He has been outstanding since returning from injury. We're 36 games into the season and he's already set a career high with 7 goals. The Lightning are starting to look like they're in good hands with two young d-men like Hedman and Gudas with, hopefully, Koekkoek on the way. For the future, the picture was fuzzy a year ago, but it's looking a lot better right now.

The Lightning did an outstanding job of putting the work in tonight to deny Carolina the 2 points. Carolina played a classic road game getting a lot of timely saves from Peters and then cashing in on their few chances when they came. Against New Jersey, the Lightning fell into the trap of making mistakes trying to open up the offense even more to try to get goals back. Here, against Carolina, they just applied their system with more and more zest. They threw the kitchen sink at Peters, a nice one too. Like, a Toto or a Kohler. Not an American Standard. Vinik buys quality. And, they did it, for the most part, without compromising their defensive structure and eventually the pressure was just too much for the Canes to take.

And now, an aside about the Filppula one-timer goal that was waved off. Folks, the NHL needs to take a look at their replay rules. Right now there's a strict standard where a puck has to clearly be over the line to be counted a goal. However, some sort of allowance for common sense needs to be added to the criteria. Justin Peters gloved Filppula's shot and his glove was clearly inside the net when he did so. However, because the puck was concealed inside the glove, it could not be said in absolute terms whether the puck crossed. But folks, c'mon. If the puck's in the glove and the glove's over the goal line, you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce the puck is also over the goal line. There was a similar play a few years back where Shanahan concealed a puck under his glove in a game against the Rangers where the goal was also disallowed because you couldn't conclusively say where the puck was under the glove, even though the glove was completely in the net (should've been a PS for a skater covering the puck with a glove in the crease at a minimum, but I digress). The chances of this sort of scenario happening in a Stanley Cup Finals game at a critical juncture are slim, but the chance should make the league sweat a little, and if they're smart they'll create some wiggle room for the Toronto war room on these calls. Mind you, Toronto doubled down on the stupidity by saying the video conclusively proved the puck didn't cross the line tonight (it didn't), but the league office's bias again Tampa Bay (which is real) is a different issue.

6 games into this 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning already have 10 of the minimum 12 points you want out of every 10-game segment. They have a real opportunity to packrat some points in these next 4 games that can help them get through January and into the time when Stamkos returns. This is a big bonus if the Lightning can capitalize on it.

Radko Gudas had the GWG, 4 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 22:34. He atoned for his mistake on Tlusty's shorthanded goal, where he just made a poor decision to try to cross the ice to hold a puck in leading to a clean breakaway for Tlusty. And, he atoned in classic Radko Gudas style: atomize Jeff Skinner along the boards in his own end to spring a 2-on-1 and then blast a slapper past Peters with extreme velocity. I'm risking committing hockey sacrilege with this statement, but there's something reminiscent of Scott Stevens in how Gudas can change games by physically taking out your best players and his ability to chip in offensively, too.

Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and he was 31% on draws in 19:08. It wasn't for lack of trying. His line, like every other line on the Lightning, was dangerous all night long.

Alex Killorn had a helper, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 18:00. His north-south game clicks well with Filppula's four-directional game. Very well.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 16:59. He's so crafty, his secondary nickname (besides Dr. Drej) might need to be Martha Stewart. When he has the puck, working with Marty, it's a good thing.

J.P. Cote had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:28. Two of his hits were of the bone-crunching variety and he had no boo boo's in this game that I detected. I'm a little squeamish about the trainers giving him Dan Boyle's #22, but all in all I'll take what the Lightning got out of him tonight. Hopefully they won't have to ask for too much more with Eric Brewer leaving tonight's game in the Second Period with an upper body injury after his arm got wrenched awkwardly.

J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 2 hits in 12:40. His work with Kucherov and Thompson is clicking right now, too.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots in 15:01. He gets a breakaway in pretty much every single game and he fails to complete it in every single game. I'm beginning to think he needs to stop and fire from his spot in the high slot. That's where all 3 of his goals have come from so far, after all.

Andrej Sustr had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 13:33. There were moments he seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the seemingly endless supply of Staals Carolina has, as well as Skinner, inside of the zone when they were really working his stop-starts hard. That said, he made arguably the biggest shot block of the Third Period to make sure the game got to OT for Gudas' heroics.

Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot in 9:46. He had 1 or 2 decent shifts with Pyatt, who returned tonight off IR, but honestly the Lightning had 3 lines rolling so well the extra forwards were an afterthought.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-19-13 Predators at Lightning

Nashville almost got run out of the building.

NSH-2
TB-4

Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. Christmas came early as the Lightning skaters finally gave him some goal support. Ho, ho, ho!

First Period
2:25 TB Killorn (8), (Hedman, Cote)
19:06 TB St Louis (14), (Salo, Killorn)(PP)

Second Period
6:36 NSH Smith (7), (Cullen, Weber)
08:27 TB Purcell (8), (Filppula, Carle)
13:02 NSH Smith (8), (Cullen , Ellis)(PP)
13:51 TB Panik (2), (Brewer, Sustr)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Alex Killorn, Lindback, and Valtteri Filppula were the game's three stars.

The scoreboard and shots on goal say this game was a lot closer than what the eyeball test said. The Lightning dominated territorially throughout this contest and clearly had the bulk of the scoring chances. They had so many opportunities to get a 3 goal lead and turn this into a complete squash that they just couldn't quite cash in. In the future, as they mature, they'll refine their killer instinct and get that last goal they need to put teams away early. As it is, I'm just pleased they put that steaming pile they played for 56 minutes in Long Island behind them and showed a much higher quality effort tonight.

This game marked the halfway point of the 4th 10-game segment of the Lightning's season, and they already have 8 of the minimum 12 points you want in each segment. They've got a really good opportunity to not only hit their target for this segment but also, if they keep the hammer down, to rebuild some of the insurance points they lost in the last segment when they had to burn 3 of the 4 they had earned in the first 20 games of the year. If you're wondering, the Lightning have ~20 games to get through before Steven Stamkos' rumored target to return. So the goal needs to be to continue to stay on target through about 60 games of the season when, after some time to knock off the rust, you hope Stamkos can re-add about 1 goal a game to the offense when he comes back (statistically, that's about what his absence has meant). That could make a good Lightning team a great Lightning team if they can pull it out, because it's like adding a 50-goal scorer at the trade deadline for F-R-E-E!

Radko Gudas was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:23. As expected, his ice time went down a bit with Hedman back in the lineup. He also had to deal with the frustration of having no star forwards to drive insane tonight because Nashville doesn't have one. Zing!

Tyler Johnson had 1 shot and was 44% on draws in 20:40. His line was crazy active tonight. They did everything but light the lamp offensively.

Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 5 shots in 17:56. We can officially declare any slump he was in to be deceased, because he could've easily had another goal and he was nice and active all night long. You could see it coming once he switched back to wing. This is obviously the role he's comfortable in.

Ondrej Palat had 2 shots and 2 hits in 21:37. He's a crafty one, that Ondrej Palat. He'll take your wallet, keys, and your girl if you're not looking. He's sneaky good with and without the puck.

J.T. Brown was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:33. He shows good chemistry with old Syracuse linemate Kucherov from time to time.

Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 3 shots on goal in 11:36. He got stopped on a breakaway in this one and was dangerous throughout the game both shooting and passing the puck. His stickhandling skill puts a tremendous amount of pressure on defenders, and will benefit his linemates even more than Kucherov at this level because teams will break down defensively trying to stop Kucherov, which will free up space for other guys. There's two other guys, Drouin and Namestnikov, waiting in the wings who also have that ability. It'll be fun. Trust me.

J.P. Cote had his first NHL point - an assist - and 2 hits in 9:43. He's 31 years old and he got his first NHL point. Nice stuff. He looked pretty poised with the puck on breakouts. Very quick and crisp moving it. He got absolutely torched by Hornqvist on a 1-on-1 play in the First Period, though, and was used very sparingly thereafter. The coaches will be easing him in slowly.

Andrej Sustr had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 11:02. He's another guy who should see his ice time reduced a bit with Hedman back.

Richard Panik had a goal and was +2 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:09. He's about as complicated to read as Highlights Magazine. You can tell within the first couple of shifts every night if he's got it, usually, and tonight it was obvious early he was going to do something. He got one deflection goal and nearly had another and popped Hornqvist pretty good at the benches at center ice in the Third Period. Cooper had him on late with Nashville with the 6th attacker out because I think Cooper wanted to try to get Panik another goal to really get him rolling. If he can get back on track, that'd be a big bonus for the Lightning.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-17-13 Lightning at Islanders

Take the money and RUN...

TB-3
NYI-2 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped 2 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the shootout victory. He made a handful of critical saves to keep the Lightning in the same area code, which ultimately made tonight's thievery possible.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:11 NYI Okposo (11), (Tavares, Nelson)(PP)

Third Period
10:21 NYI Nielsen (11), (Grabner, Bailey)
17:07 TB Filppula (11), (unassisted)
19:56 TB Filppula (12), (Brown, St Louis)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Filppula, Kucherov
NYI- Nielsen

Valterri Filppula was the game's first star.

So, yeah, that happened, and I can't stop laughing. The Lightning turned in one of their sloppiest efforts of the season and looked to be dead sunk with under 3 minutes to play down 2-0. They had been outworked half the game. They had been turning over pucks left and right. People were demanding I crucify people in the game write-up. Tar was being boiled and feathers were being plucked, bagged, and brought to the ready. Then Kyle Okposo, bless him, decided to hand a puck to Val Filppula in a prime scoring area to make the game 2-1 with under 3 minutes left, a ridiculous goalmouth scrum with the extra attacker led to the tying goal with under 4 seconds left, and Filppula and Kucherov finished off two nasty dekes in the shootout to steal the points. STEAL THE POINTS! I expected the Nassau County Sherrif's Department to show up at the Lightning bench after Bishop made the last save on Tavares to put the entire Lightning squad in irons and make the team do the collective perp walk all the way to the paddy wagon. Thievery. On nights like this, whoever on Long Island made that deal with the devil to get those 4 Cups has to be wondering was it really worth it to now have to watch an eternity of... this.

4 games into the 4th 10 game segment of the season, the Lightning somehow managed to get halfway to the minimum segment goal of 12 points. If they can pull out another win Thursday against Nashville, they'll be in really good position to meet (and probably exceed) their target for this stretch with Carolina and Florida coming up after that. Heck, after tonight, how can they lose? I'm still laughing at the result.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:07. Uncredited was a point shot rom Gudas that deflected off the post in the First Period. His hip check on Kyle Okposo, run to the end board with John Tavares, and otherwise snarly game was a page straight out of Dale Carnegie's classic, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," or Radko's own soon-to-be-published masterwork (I know because I'm ghost writing it), "Radko Gudas' Big Book of Making Friends and Influencing People". With Hedman out, Gudas has been matching up against the opposition's best players, and he's been hitting them and harming them on a nightly basis. At this point, I wonder if they might be just as happy to see Hedman possibly coming back Thursday as we are, if only to get a reprieve from the Wrath of Radko (which, coincidentally, is the working title of the film adaptation of "Radko Gudas' Big Book of Making Friends and Influencing People", for which I'm also getting credit as an Executive Producer).

Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:55. You know a guy has had a really good game (and I mean that with the most burning sarcasm possible) when people submit requests for me to light the guy on fire verbally... in the Second Period. He was a turnover machine tonight (he wasn't the only one), and he also got caught at least once on a play that led directly to Ben Bishop having to fend off a breakaway. It continues to puzzle me how Barberio's +/- isn't the exact opposite of what it currently is. Is it clean living? Is he secretly Irish? Who knows, but his d-play is almost as big an eyesore as that dump of an arena the Lightning had to play in tonight.

Tyler Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 2 hits, and he was 44% on draws.

Alex Killorn had 2 shots and 1 hit in 19:12.

Ondrej Palat had 4 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:32.

J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots in 17:37. He got increased IT tonight and was in the middle of the glorious netmouth scrum that led to the tying goal. Points are starting to flow a little.

Matt Taormina was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 12:23. Taormina has one virtue (and only one) on defense: if you come down on him on the rush and try to make a move around him he will hit you and put you on your back (there's your carrot, get ready for the stick). Beyond that, he has next to no redeeming qualities that I can detect in his own third of the ice. He turns the puck over with the same magnanimous generosity as Barberio, which is why I'd expect to see him headed back to Syracuse if Hedman is healthy enough to go on Thursday against Nash-Vegas.

Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 19:32. His move in the shootout, eventually slipping the puck 5-hole on Nabokov, whether you call it a Datsyuk or a Forsberg... filthy. Nasty. Evil. Mean spirited. It's the kind of move that says to a goaltender, "You're bad. You should feel bad. You've been playing the goaltending position your entire life, and the best you could do was still look utterly weak and pathetic and now you're laying prostrate at my feet with the puck behind you and the red light on. And, partly because of that and partly because you look funny and your personality stinks, no one will ever love you." So. Not. Nice.

Andrej Sustr had 3 shots in 15:33. I tell you, if there's one guy who loves Barberio and Taormina, it has to be Sustr. He looks like Larry Robinson in his prime next to those two.

Richard Panik had 3 hits in 10:40. I long for the day he gets a batch of sticks from the manufacturers that doesn't have an awful first touch in every single blade.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-15-13 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning flip the script in Detroit.

TB-3
DET-0

Ben Bishop stopped all 28 shots he faced to get the shutout. That there was some more U of Maine Justice!

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
3:13 TB Johnson (8), (St Louis, Palat)
9:16 TB Brown (2), (Thompson)
18:45 TB Killorn (7), (Filppula, Brewer)(EN)

Bishop and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. In many ways, this was a reversal of the game last night in New Jersey. The Lightning were very patient, got their key saves from Bishop, got their greasy goal, and ended up riding the snowball to a 3-0 win. That's good road hockey, to be certain.

Remember when, going into this season, everyone was saying Detroit was going to eat our lunch in this new division? The Lightning improve to 3-0-0 against Detroit so far this year.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:56. Add Johan Franzen to his list of victims. He hit Franzen and knocked him out of the game in the Second Period. Gudas doesn't care what your resume says you are, to him you're just another target. I think he really sets the tone for the rest of the youngsters on this team. He's not intimidated by the league, and they shouldn't be either.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 blocked shots in 9:23. His harrowing moment of the night was when he got stripped by Pavel Datsyuk trying to carry the puck out from behind his net in the Second Period. Like taking candy from a small child.

Johnson had a goal and was +2 with 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and he was 23% on draws. He forced the turnover that led to his goal and had his stick on the ice and was in proper position to be the beneficiary of it. Nice play. You make your own luck.

Alex Killorn had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:33. He was awarded the empty netter when he was hooked on the shot attempt. Even if the call had not been made, Teddy Purcell knocked in the rebound off the end boards. Hopefully that opens the flood gates.

Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 18:46. He made the pass that led to the key goal and had at least one amazing back checking play defensively.

J.T. Brown had the big insurance goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:41. Good things happen when you go to the net. Hopefully that opens the floodgates for J.T., too.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 10:21.

Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 2 shots in 13:39. He set up Panik on a ten bell opportunity in the First Period and had a breakaway in the Third Period. He's a dangerous offensive player, needless to say.

Andrej Sustr had 3 shots and 1 hit in 13:24.

Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:24. That was a pretty good response coming off of the suspension.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-4-13 Lightning at Devils

Typical game against New Jersey.

TB-0
NJ-3

Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the loss. He absolutely deserved better. The goals he allowed were on a breakaway, a tap in from a horrible turnover behind his net, and a rebound after he denied an immortal, Jagr, 1-on-1. He also made multiple breakaway saves to keep the Lightning in the game before the dam finally gave way in the Third Period. I feel bad for him. The Lightning just refuse to give this young man any goal support. It's frustrating.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
15:37 NJ Brunner (7), (Gelinas, Fayne)

Third Period
6:44 NJ Zubrus (6), (Jagr)
9:36 NJ Zubrus (7), (Jagr, Zidlicky)

Tampa Bay outshot the Devils 33-19. It didn't matter. This was a prototypical Devils win and they've been doing this to teams for years. They let Martin Brodeur hold them in games with key saves, wait for you to make a mistake, and then let you press and make more mistakes that they subsequently capitalize on. The Lightning dominated the Devils at 5-on-5, for the most part. It was ultimately irrelevant. If you can't get a lead on these guys, you're in deep trouble. That's the way it's always been. If there's one thing I can say the Lightning need to improve upon, though, it's a ridiculously feckless power play that seemed to nullify any momentum the Lightning built up at even strength. It's really, really bad right now, and the Lightning coaching staff really needs to look at shuffling around their strategy with that unit, because they've been awful for almost the entire time since Stamkos was injured.

Radko Gudas was -1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 25:14. He was unfortunate to be on the pairing that made the mistake that led to Brunner's breakaway goal and the game devolving into a typical Devils game. More concerning, he left the ice late in the Third Period with what appeared to be an upper body injury. Hopefully he's good to go tomorrow and moving forward.

Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot, 2 blocked shots, and he was 31% on draws. It was another somewhat lackluster night for his line.

Alex Killorn was -1 in 19:49. He and his line were legitimately dangerous and he hit a post that would've staked the Lightning to the all-important 1-0 lead on New Jersey. He just couldn't finish it off.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:10.

J.T. Brown was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 11:50. He had chances working well on a line with Kucherov, but he's just snake bitten as a finisher right now.

Matt Taormina had a clean sheet in 16:47. He looked pretty solid after getting the vote of confidence being made a top 6 d-man over Barberio for this game.

Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 3 shots in 12:30. I understand the fear of playing Kucherov in a game against a veteran team that plays the style of hockey New Jersey plays. But, Kucherov was the Lightning's most dynamic offensive player tonight. New Jersey struggled mightily to get the puck off Kucherov's stick, and from the moment he set Nate Thompson up for a good chance on his first shift in the First Period to the moment he absolutely dominated the Devils all over the ice en route to setting Brown up on a glorious chance in the Third Period, it was clear he was as dangerous a forward as the Lightning had. In games like these where the Lightning struggle offensively, I'm sorry, he's got to play more.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 17:27. He had one pretty bad turnover that I detected, but otherwise was quiet, which is good for a rookie d-man against New Jersey.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie played 5:37.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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