UNLEASH THE KITTENS!
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout win. He looked about as solid as the security around Fort Knox all night. He didn't face a ton of chances in the middle frame, in particular, but even if he had, the Isles were getting nothing from Vasiy tonight. Vasilevskiy's next decision will graduate him from prospect status on the website.
18:58 TB Brown (2), (Paquette, Coburn)
19:40 TB Callahan (1), (Sustr, Hedman)
14:24 TB Kucherov (6), (Stamkos)(PP)
17:02 TB Namestnikov (3), (Stamkos, Kucherov)(PP)
Steven Stamkos, Vasilevskiy, and Nikita Nesterov were the game's three stars. Why Nesterov? 19:24 of ice time filling in for the injured Anton Stralman. Nesterov played almost 20 minutes and the Lightning got a shutout? You'd have gotten good odds in Vegas against that, I'm sure.
The Lightning should just petition the league to play the Isles every single game. They'll go 82-0. The Islanders really tried in this game, unlike how they folded like a cheap tent in the first of the three encounters against Tampa Bay. But, with two quick strikes at the end of the First Period, the Lightning again took the heart of the allegedly rough, tough, and gritty Islanders. The Lightning then put on an absolute clinic in the Second Period before garbage time in the Third Period when Vasilevskiy raised the force fields to preserve his shutout.
Brayden Point was +1 with 1 shot in 16:07.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:16.
Inconsistent Lightning continue to struggle to stay on track.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the loss. He did stop a First Period penalty shot in the game, but on balance it's fair to say that was a subpar outing for Ben.
7:18 SJ Marleau (4), (Burns, Martin)
10:04 SJ Wingels (3), (Tierney, Karlsson)
8:52 SJ Vlasic (3), (Hertl, Donskoi)
5:43 TB Stralman (1), (Boyle, Paquette)
Tampa Bay fell behind early and never crawled back into the game. The effort wasn't bad, necessarily, but you can't spot good teams two goal leads and expect to win. And, frankly, the Lightning have not been themselves 5 on 5 so far this year from a possession standpoint. The problem with the inconsistency is that the Lightning have put themselves in a position where they need to get 7 of a possible 10 points on this upcoming 5 game road trip just to stay on track for the playoffs by the 12 points in every 10 games formula. That's a bad spot to be in, and the Lightning really needed to get at least a point out of this game.
Brayden Point was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:19.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 15:49 of fairly quiet ice time.
Lightning continue absolute ownership of the Islanders.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. He made a bevy of key, difficult saves at important times to allow the team in front of him to eventually build the game into a laugher. Vasilevskiy is now 3 decisions away from graduation from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects, by my count.
8:03 TB Stamkos (8), (Johnson, Namestnikov)(PP)
11:00 TB Kucherov (5), (Hedman, Stamkos)
2:50 TB Johnson (5), (Stamkos, Palat)(PP)
8:04 NYI Ladd (2), (Boychuk)
1:08 TB Boyle (4), (Paquette)
In boxing, the old saying goes "Styles make the fight". Sometimes, though, the "styles" or the matchups simply align to where one team just has absolute dominance over the other. Such is the case between Tampa Bay and the Islanders. Something about the styles and the matchups just gives the Lightning an absolute leg up on Brooklyn's team. The Lightning obviously have a skill and speed advantage between the two teams, but the familiarity between the two clubs out of the playoff series last year seems to have bred a contempt that leads the Lightning skill to bear down on the Islanders and bury them with added zest and zeal.
Making it worse for the Islanders is that they played a horribly undisciplined game. The Lightning spent half the game on the man advantage and made the Isles pay on two of them. By the end, it looked like the dispirited Isles had given up, and I honestly wonder how much longer the shabbily clad and quaffed Coach Capuano keeps his job after an effort like that. They were a hot, sad mess.
Brayden Point had 1 shot in 16:10 of a very quiet outing.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 14:46 of a very quiet outing.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.
Inexplicable mistakes rob Lightning of fruits of a decent effort.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Played very well in a goaltending duel, but lost on an inexcusable mistake by his best d-man.
3:10 FLA Marchessault (7), (Yandle, Barkov)(PP)
1:15 TB Palat (2), (unassisted)
15:32 FLA Smith (3), (unassisted)
19:24 FLA MacKenzie (1), (Yandle)(EN)
Bishop was the game's third star.
The Lightning played better than the scoreboard indicated tonight, as they really matched and exceeded the Panthers' intensity level and had one of their better forechecking nights of the year from about midway through the First Period on. Luongo held serve for the Panthers long enough for Victor Hedman to make the inexplicable mistake of allowing his pocket to be picked at the Lightning blueline allowing the winning goal to be scored against. It squanders an effort that, in my opinion, showed marked improvement from players like Palat and Johnson who have struggled to find their form early in this campaign.
Brayden Point had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:15.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 3 hits in 11:11 as his minutes suffered with the return of Nesterov in the 7 d-man lineup.
Lightning get some get back. Payback.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 38 shots for the victory.
14:39 NJ Severson (2), (Hall, Zajac)
2:25 TB Boyle (3), (Hedman, Brown)
8:27 TB Hedman (3), (unassisted)
5:01 TB Point (1), (Kucherov, Filppula)(PP)
14:14 TB Kucherov (4), (Stamkos, Stralman)
The first twenty minutes of this game had the same unfortunate tinge as far too many contests against the Devils often do. The Devils stifled the Lightning attack in a boring frame and eventually took the lead on an opportunistic rebound goal off a shot generated from a turnover. There was much hand wringing. Fortunately, the Lightning took control of the final forty minutes of this game an ultimately made it a laugher. The method of the final forty should be instructive for the Lightning, as they manufactured their second and third goals off of, gasp, offensive zone faceoff wins. Recall, the Lightning may have lost the Stanley Cup against Chicago two years ago when the Blackhawks were able to create possession and chances against the run of play in order to manufacture wins and eventually take control of the series. Last year, the Lightning found themselves within an eyelash returning to the Stanley Cup Final when they ran out of gas and were unable to win offensive zone faceoffs to generate some cheap possession and chances like the Blackhawks did against them the year prior. Let me make this very clear: the Lightning's ability to win offensive zone faceoffs when they're a little stagnant at 5 on 5 and keep the other team from winning them when they have control of a game from a possession standpoint is one of the last pieces to the Lightning's championship puzzle. If they keep showing me faceoff wins and chances manufactured off of them, I'll eventually show you a Stanley Cup Champion some time in roughly June of 2017. Dead serious.
Point had his first NHL goal, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 14:38.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 4 hits in 14:48. What, no helper?
Lightning manufacture a point in their first game back from a long road trip.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 31 shots before allowing 2 of 10 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
4:01 BOS Carlo (2), (Bergeron)
10:47 BOS Spooner (2), (Krug, Krejci)(PP)
15:09 TB Hedman (2), (Kucherov, Filppula)(PP)
4:38 BOS Pastrnak (6), (Bergeron, Marchand)
8:30 TB Johnson (3), (Stralman, Stamkos)(PP)
10:04 Johnson (4), (Coburn, Koekkoek)
BOS- Nash, Hayes
The Lightning were unsurprisingly a little flat in their first game back from a long road trip. Using the power play to overcome that flatness, along with decent goaltending, is a pretty textbook way to weather the storm. The inability to score on a 4-on-3 power play in OT to steal the second point was regrettable, but under the circumstances there are some silver linings to take out of the contest.
Brayden Point was +1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:05. He also had Tampa Bay's lone goal in the penalty shot session, where he's been money so far this season.
Slater Koekkoek had a helper, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:20. That's three assists in his first two games up with the team this year, for those keeping score at home. Keep raising his minutes up.
Lightning break into November with a vengeance.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. He made a handful of critical situational saves in the first 40 minutes to allow the Lightning to establish the monster lead and then stood on his head in garbage time to run up his save percentage. It was a really good night for Ben.
3:21 TB Kucherov (2), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)
12:18 TB Kucherov (3), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)
13:34 TB Stamkos (7), (Koekkoek, Kucherov)
6:17 TB Boyle (2), (Callahan, Filppula)
9:30 TB Brown (1), (unassisted)(SH)
11:19 TB Filppula (4), (Kucherov, Koekkoek)
19:30 NYI Seidenberg (3), (DeHaan, Tavares)
That game was everything the Lightning desperately needed and more to complete the road trip and the first 10 game segment of the season. The Lightning put arguably their best skating lineup onto the ice, and put forth a better effort to apply back pressure in the neutral zone to control the balance of play nearly the entire first 40 minutes of the game before garbage time set in. They also were opportunistic, using the penalty on Calvin DeHaan for a head shot on Jonathan Drouin to get the early power play goal they needed to exorcise their First Period scoring demons and get the flood gates open. It didn't come without a price, because it's safe to assume Drouin immediately went under observation for a concussion, but the Lightning at least made the Isles pay a terrible price for the infraction.
With the win, the Lightning finish the first 10 game segment with a winning 12 points that hit the minimum they need to comfortably be on playoff pace. 12 in 10, now do it again.
Brayden Point had 1 blocked shot in a very quiet 17:27 of ice time.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 helpers and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 13:12 of meaningful ice time. Your Honor, I rest my case. There's no doubt who should be playing between Koekkoek and Nesterov. None. Koekkoek is a stud. He's Hedman Lite. He's big, he moves like a thoroughbred, has solid offensive instincts, and he mixes in some physical edge. Nesterov is exactly none of those things right now. A blind man could make this lineup decision. Truly.
Fourth game in five nights for the barnstorming Lightning.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.
5:54 TB Nesterov (1), (Filppula, Drouin)
19:25 NSH Fisher (1), (Neal, Subban)
5:56 NSH Subban (1), (Ribeiro)(PP)
12:37 NSH Ribeiro (1), (Forsberg)(PP)
15:18 TB Filppula (1), (Bishop, Wisniewski)
3:07 TB Conacher (1), (unassisted)
15:37 NSH Bass (1), (Neal)
I'm having flashbacks of when Koules and Barrie owned the team and they signed up for a zillion preseason games every year to try to make a little extra scratch because they were so strapped. That's not the case with Vinik, but this is just a lot of games and a lot of travel in the span of less than a week.
Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 14:20. He was also 46% on 13 draws.
Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:07. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Kind of interesting to see him play center rather than wing, which may be the better fit for him as a pro.
Yanni Gourde had 1 hit in 12:16.
Jeremy Morin had 1 shot in 9:10.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:13. I need to go back and add up all his ice time this week, but suffice it to say he might deserve some sort of iron man trophy. Tonight the Lightning decided to give him a full load after easing him in with the mid teens of minutes earlier in the week. 3 games in 5 nights is still a lot of work.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 11 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 14:12. Witkowski also deserves an iron man trophy of his own.
Syracuse Crunch clamp down on Panthers B squad.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout victory. This is an excellent start for a netminder who just got a prove it contract who may have an NHL backup opportunity looming in his future once the Lightning sort out their starting situation up top.
3:54 TB Morin (1), (unassisted)
14:48 TB Point (2), (Morin, Bournival)
Gudlevskis, Jeremy Morin, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars. Kudos to the Lightning equipment guys for having the sense of humor to stick Morin in #33. He's one letter away from being a Lightning all-timer. Made me double-take, for certain.
If the Lightning preseason opener was a showcase for the team's junior prospects, tonight was an opportunity for many prospects earmarked for the Syracuse Crunch. And, on first blush, I'd think new coach Benoit Groulx will be pleased with what he saw tonight.
Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:37. 90% on 10 draws is pleasing to the eye. I remain convinced that for Syracuse to go anywhere, Peca's going to have to become a big time AHL player. He'll have a little more help this season with Brayden Point in Syracuse, but as an older and more experienced guy, he's one I suspect needs to become one of the leaders for the Crunch.
Tanner Richard had 2 hits in 16:49. 13% on 8 draws is a little cringe-worthy stat line on draws. He's on the clock now to make a push and earn a look in the NHL. Not sure he really flashed enough tonight.
Brayden Point had his second goal in as many games and was +2 with 3 shots in 14:02. He was also 45% on 11 draws. The Lightning are already trying to tamp down expectations because they know Point needs seasoning and experience, but his raw talent is undeniable.
Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 16:58.
Mike Halmo had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 11:48.
Gabriel Dumont had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:57.
Daniel Walcott had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:43.
Dylan Blujus had 3 shots and 4 blocked shots in 18:34. Blujus is a guy who somewhat falls into the same boat as Richard. He needs to start making a push to challenge Witkowski to become the Lightning's first righty callup from Syracuse.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:48.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 in 16:40. The Lightning have played Koekkoek in both games, which is telling, but they've also resolved not to give him a gigantic load of minutes in these games as they might've been tempted to do. That tells me they're easing Koekkoek into a marathon rather than putting him through a sprint of a look-see.
Valiant Third Period comeback bid by Junior Lightning gives hope for the future.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 23 shots before giving way to Adam Wilcox, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots for ye old backdoor loss. It was a respectable outing for both netminders who get additional time thanks to the World Cup of Hockey.
19:07 CAR Br. Sutter (1), (Foegele)
10:26 CAR Wallmark (1), (Kuokkanen)
11:28 CAR Skinner (1), (Stempniak, Pesce)
11:28 TB Point (1), (Johnson, Hajek)
18:41 TB Imama (1), (Vermin, Cerelli)
Brayden Point was the game's third star.
This is going to be a strange camp/preseason because of it being chopped up by the WCOH. The silver lining is some extra time for potential future contributors like Point, who didn't embarrass themselves tonight. Among those prospects, the ice time was as follows, revealing more who the organization wanted to take a long early look at for the future than who they trust and are thinking about from an NHL roster standpoint for this season...
Brett Howden was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:50. He was also 44% on 9 draws.
Point had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot in 15:38. He was also 57% on 7 draws.
Anthony Cirelli had a helper and 1 shot in 15:36. He was also 39% on 18 draws.
Joel Vermin had a helper and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 15:19.
Mathieu Joseph had 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:04.
Dennis Yan had 2 penalty minutes in 12:40.
Boko Imama had 1 goal, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 10:28. He also killed 0 Hurricanes with his fists... this time.
Libor Hajek had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in a hefty 20:45.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:59.
Matthew Spencer was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 18:51.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:23.