Lightning manage to snatch their season from the jaws of an epic collapse.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 41 shots before stopping 4 of 5 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. I thought he was generally good on first shots in this game, but looked a little out of sorts on second opportunities. He made several key situational saves in Overtime to help keep the team alive. In the Shootout, I tend to have a lot of faith with Vasiy in net because he does tend to be so strong facing down first opportunities.
15:38 TB Hedman(6), (Brown)
17:52 TB Marchessault(7), (Killorn)
19:39 TB Stamkos(23), (Callahan, Sustr)
13:45 WPG Myers(6), (Peluso, Lowry)
2:00 TB Killorn(10), (Callahan)
6:01 WPG Shiefele(13), (Trouba)(PP)
7:33 WPG Ladd(14), (Armia)(SH)
12:44 WPG Ladd(15), (Schiefele)
14:40 WPG Perrault(9), (Wheeler, Byfuglien)
15:04 TB Kucherov(24), (unassisted)
TB- Callahan, Stamkos
The Lightning ultimately got the result they needed out of tonight's game, but they hardly cloaked themselves in glory doing so. True, they opportunistically built a pair of 3 goals leads, including the all-important 3 goal lead in the Third Period, despite being on the wrong end of a shot disparity all night. That should've been enough, even despite a very poor power play night that included a blown Second Period 5-on-3 and a blown Overtime 4-on-3 opportunity. Only bad teams blow 3 goals leads in the Third Period, right? Well, the Lightning very nearly lost the game allowing 4 straight before a great individual effort shooting off the rush by Kucherov may have saved the season. Lucky, lucky, lucky, too. Lucky Winnipeg looks completely disorganized defensively and lucky Ondrej Pavelec brought his bullfighting cape to the crease tonight. The Lightning defense, in particular, looked like the completely took their foot off the gas in the Third Period with some very weak work leading to a pair of goals where they were manhandled physically by the bigger Jets. Was that because the Jets started running at the Lightning after Anton Stralman nearly beheaded Bryan Little on a neutral zone hit late in the Second Period? Hard to say. I do know this: I really hope Stralman doesn't face discipline for that head shot because I do not want to watch this team attempt to win a game with both he and Garrison unavailable.
Bottom line: I didn't see anything tonight that developed a wellspring of trust in this team. They still look to be teetering on the edge of disaster.
If any Matt Carle apologists trumpet his +2 to you tonight, remind them of the fable of the blind squirrel. Callahan, on the other hand, had a pair of nice finishes in regulation and OT, as if trying to earn his way out of membership in the imaginary Dead Money Trio. We shall see.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:59. Winnipeg's a rough matchup for a rookie because of their combination of size/speed. He didn't make any huge mistakes, but he also didn't get the amount of open ice he gets against other teams to utilize his skating ability. Mind you, had the Lightning not decided to implode in the Third Period, there might've been a lot of good developmental garbage time for Slater to eat up, but it was not to be. Lost opportunities.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 in 9:03. Winnipeg's a really bad matchup for Nikita. That's all I'll say.
If the goat horns fit, make him wear them.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Partial breakaways and completely uncovered guys in the slot. Not his fault.
17:51 TB Callahan(6), (Killorn, Sustr)
1:43 SJ Ward(16), (Vlasic, Nieto)
6:34 SJ Pavelski(26), (Thornton, Hertl)
8:46 TB Paquette(3), (Brown)
1:17 SJ Nieto(8), (Marleau, Ward)
18:17 SJ Karlsson(7), (Thornton)
Ryan Callahan was the game's third star. He did, after all, score his second goal in the last 42 or 43 games, so it was a big deal. Between Matt Carle's -3 in 11:07 of ice time and Val Filppula's rally-stifling late game penalty, it was truly a banner night for the Dead Money Trio. $17.9 million in combined salary for that trio this season, and most of it is money that's absolutely being stolen from the organization.
Matt Carle is not an NHL defenseman anymore, and no team in the league is going to take him in a trade. It's time for Yzerman to suck it up and either send him to Syracuse or send him home. It's Carle's choice, but he can't be in the lineup anymore. He's killing the team. Killing them. He was -3 tonight, and he earned that -3 by playing a pretty significant hand in all 3 goals against. The most important of the three was an ill-advised whiff of a pinch on the eventual GWG. Bottom line, it's time for the Lightning to cut their losses and to use the ice time they've been wasting on Carle to give Slater Koekkoek NHL seasoning for the future.
Tonight's loss puts the Lightning back in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs. After getting 18 points in the last 10-game segment of the season, the team had finally worked its way back onto a solid playoff pace. Now, unless they go on a 4 game winning streak, they'll be behind the 8-ball by the end of this 10-game segment of the season and in the unenviable position of having to make up ground when the calendar rolls over into March. That's exactly where a team doesn't want to be.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot in 7:58. He generated two good scoring chances in his limited ice time and his skating is just too good an asset to hold out of the lineup for someone like Matt Carle.
Jonathan Marchessault had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:34. He played inspired high-energy hockey in limited ice time. But, he also took an offensive zone penalty, so I expect him to be flogged by Cooper and press-boxed for another 9 games.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 hit in 15:39. It was a quiet night where he didn't make any Carle-esque mistakes at the offensive blueline.
Toronto throws love St. Louis' way on controversial Valentine's Day goal review.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the loss. The GWG came on a Berglund goal where Bishop made the initial stop and Berglund pushed his heel out to kick the puck into the net. Originally waved off by the official on the ice, Toronto reversed the call to give the Blues what turned out to be the margin of victory. Yeah.
0:36 STL Fabbri(13), (Stastny)
17:41 STL Berglund(4), (unassisted)
19:08 TB Kucherov(23), (Johnson, Hedman)
Bishop was the game's second star.
I'm torn about this game. I don't think the Lightning played as well as their 38-21 shot advantage might suggest, but I suspect a lot of that had to do with the fact St. Louis was tackling the Lightning's skill players at every opportunity in true Hitchcock fashion. The Blues looked completely unprepared for the Lightning's speed and puck handling ability in the First Period, but Tampa Bay failed to get on the board when they had the decisive advantage in possession and the Blues started to turn things by playing more of a grinding, clutch and grab style in the Second Period. Joel Edmundson, in particular, had a couple of NFL caliber tackles trying to handle the Lightning on the rush. It's just a shame St. Louis doesn't have an NFL team anymore... but I digress.
Ultimately the Lightning needed to get one of three things done tonight, and they didn't: 1.) Get a power play goal. 2.) Get a goal off an offensive zone faceoff. 3.) Fight through the gauntlet of clutching and grabbing to pot a second chance on the initial shot. That was the formula they struggled with in their opening round series against Detroit in the playoffs last season. I saw something similar tonight.
Another aside: The Lightning passed on Robby Fabbri to select thrice-in-a-row scratched (in Syracuse) Anthony DeAngelo. Things that haunt me when I'm both awake and asleep.
The loss puts the Lightning in a precarious position in the standings. Just when it looked like things were getting safe, a 2-3-0 start to this 10-game segment of the season means the Lightning have to get 8 of 10 remaining points to stay on pace. Not good, and you don't want to be fishing for make-up points once the calendar rolls over into March.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:08. His bad pinch to start the Second Period resulted in the 2-on-0 that became Fabbri's goal. This comes just a few games after he hammered an ill advised shot into a shot blocker that also became a goal. You have to be sure at the other team's blueline when you're the last line of defense. D-Man 101.
Lightning snatch hope from the jaws of despair.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the OT victory. I suspect he wants the opening goal by Fisher back, but it's hard to fault him for the turnstile quality defense in front of him in the Third Period.
9:40 NSH Fisher(8), (Arvidsson, Ekholm)
8:22 TB Brown(7), (Filppula, Sustr)
10:07 TB Kucherov(22), (Nesterov, Bishop)
4:01 NSH Neal(20), (Josi, Jackman)
7:46 NSH Forsberg(18), (Ribeiro, Josi)
19:33 TB Stamkos(22), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
1:04 TB Johnson(8), (Hedman, Stamkos)
It's remarkable the difference between the Lightning road power play and the home power play of late, and you won't get a bigger power play goal than the tying marker by Steven Stamkos late in regulation. It may have saved the Lightning from digging another hole late in the season. More on that later.
Matt Carle was -2 and had a nice view of the James Neal breakaway to tie the game in the Third Period. Bottom line: the guy's not an NHL player anymore. His skating, which was his calling card when he came into the league, is shot and his hands/dexterity seem to be deteriorating too. In my opinion, this call up of Slater Koekkoek for the injured Jason Garrison isn't just a call up. If he plays well, I have a feeling it will be the call up. It was clear the coaching staff had lost faith in Carle prior to the Garrison injure, as he pretty much became a regular scratch. Last year, in the Stanley Cup Final, they learned a pretty serious lesson about defensive depth, as Carle's pairing with Sustr seemed to drag the team under, routinely. Because of that, and Brayden Coburn's impending free agency, I always suspected Koekkoek would be up in the second half of the season. Now, I wouldn't be shocked if he outright takes Carle's roster spot and sends the veteran home or to Syracuse once Garrison returns in 3-5 weeks. I expect Koekkoek in next time out, and I expect to see flashes of his Hedman-lite play.
The Lightning's win was critical, because it gives them a chance to stay on pace for this 10-game segment of the year at the halfway point of 5 games. They couldn't afford a 3-game losing streak at this time of the season with another quality opponent coming up next.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with a helper, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:57. Nesterov's now 9 games away from graduation from prospect status on the website.
Fucale robs Syracuse again.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 19 shots for the OT loss. His save percentage has now slipped to .901 on the season.
STJ Bartley, (1) (Johnston), 3:26 (PP)
STJ MacMillan, (6) (Bozon, Johnston), 7:01 (PP)
SYR Koekkoek, (4) (Walcott), 7:57
SYR Blujus, (4) (Koekkoek, McGinn), 14:26 (PP)
SYR Yogan, (3) (Walcott), 16:30
STJ Scherbak, (5) (Ellis, Hudon), 5:00 (PP)
STJ Hudon, (15) , 1:45
Slater Koekkoek was the game's third star. His 1 goal and 1 assist today marked his first multi-point effort of the season.
St. John's goaltender Zachary Fucale again allowed his team to overcome a significant shot disparity to get the 2 points. In this second game of the set, Syracuse outshot the IceCaps 39-19 and again failed to secure the victory.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Costly clunker in Canada's capital.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He wasn't at fault for the L, but his softie in the Second Period essentially ended the game by allowing Ottawa to build the 3 goal lead.
5:23 OTT Smith (11), (Stone)
16:51 OTT Prince (3), (unassisted)
17:25 TB Brown (6), (Coburn, Callahan)
4:41 OTT Stone (15), (Pageau, Zibanejad)(PP)
10:46 OTT Stone (16), (Ceci, Pageau)
15:22 OTT Pageau (13), (unassisted)
The Lightning came out flat tonight and never, ever got their legs underneath them. They were consistently beaten to loose pucks and they turned over the puck far too much. They deserved to be run out of the rink tonight, and they eventually were. When you fail to respect the game and your opponent, this is the end result. The bigger problem, though, is Jason Garrison missed the last two periods of the game with a lower body injury. Short of Ben Bishop getting injured, an injury to one of the team's top-four defensemen is one of the losses the team simply doesn't have the depth to cope with. It's pretty clear that the team doesn't have faith in Matt Carle anymore and they shouldn't have faith in Sustr and Nesterov moving up in minutes from the niches they're in, either. At a certain point, I really hope they start getting Slater Koekkoek more NHL experience for just this type of problem. I'd hate this to happen in the playoffs and Slater still be completely wet behind the ears.
Season-high point streak for the Crunch.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.
SYR McGinn, (15) (Peca, Taormina), 9:28
BNG Schneider, (13) (Kostka, Dzingel), 14:55 (PP)
BNG Kostka, (3) (Flanagan, Robinson), 15:22
SYR Koekkoek, (3) (McGinn, DeAngelo), 7:21
SYR Taormina, (8) (DeAngelo), 9:21
Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn were the game's first and third stars. Anthony DeAngelo was just a goal away from the Gordie Howe hat trick, as he had two helpers, including one on the GWG, and a fight in a very full Third Period for the highly touted prospect. It was DeAngelo's second fighting major as a pro after he had his first earlier this month against Toronto. Slater Koekkoek broke a 10 game streak of games without points with the goal to tie the game up the contest in the Third.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Vasiy stands on his head.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory including a sparkling "double save" in the Third Period to preserve the win that was the stuff of legend.
WBS Dea, (9) (Clendening, O'Neill), 7:03 (PP)
SYR Erne, (3) (Blunden, Richard), 15:56 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (6) (Richard), 18:22
WBS Gill, (1) (Simon, Kuhnhackl), 8:16 (PP)
SYR Erne, (4) (Darcy, Broll), 9:35
SYR Koekkoek, (2) (McGinn, Witkowski), 18:49 (EN)
That's 3 goals and 5 points in the last 5 games for Erne, and after going the first 22 games of his season without a goal, Slater Koekkoek has gotten on the board in 2 of the last 3. The high draft picks continue to come through for Syracuse.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse falls short and falls back to .500.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.
SYR Blujus, (3) (DeAngelo, Darcy), 3:09 (PP)
UTI Shields, (1) (Grenier, Shinkaruk), 17:56
UTI Kurtz, (1) (Negrin, Zalewski), 3:55
SYR Koekkoek, (1) (Taormina, Richard), 13:27 (PP)
UTI Landry, (1) (Subban, Gaunce), 17:45
UTI Syvret, (2) (Shields, Friesen), 2:53
Well, at least Slater Koekkoek potted his first goal of the season. He's been the one top pick for Tampa that hasn't been hitting the scoresheet regularly despite some thoroughbred offensive instincts.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch comeback dissolves into Third Period disappointment.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss. That's not exactly the kind of triumphant return one might've hoped for in Gudlevskis first action back from Tampa Bay. Then again, some rust due to inaction was probably inevitable.
ALB Thomson, (2) (Scarlett), 16:40
ALB Blandisi, (3) (Lorito, Sislo), 1:41 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (2) (Marchessault, Richard), 11:41
SYR Nesterov, (1) (DeAngelo, Vermin), 17:45 (PP)
ALB Blandisi, (4) (Lorito, Sislo), 4:03 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (4) (Gourde, Richard), 8:21
ALB Kujawinski, (2) (Mozik, McKelvie), 14:38
It's a shame the Crunch spend all game crawling out of their initial 2 goal deficit only to relent the winner after getting the even footing for the second time in the game. Nikita Nesterov paid instant dividends in his return to the club by potting a power play goal that was the first equalizer toward the end of the Second Period. That's good news. Nesterov's regressed a bit early this year in Tampa Bay due to lack of action and a loss of confidence. Getting the chance to get more minutes, especially on the power play, is a good way for Nikita to get his swagger back. In the mean time, I'd expect a recall on the blueline to Tampa Bay for tomorrow's game against Minnesota (Slater Koekkoek?).
Box score from TheAHL.com.