Nesterov, Nikita

Lightning Qualify 7 Pending RFAs; Release F David Broll

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have issued qualifying offers to seven players today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Players receiving qualifying offers were forwards Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Tye McGinn, Vladislav Namestnikov, defenseman Nikita Nesterov, and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.

The deadline for NHL clubs to issue offers is today. By issuing qualifying offers to the aforementioned players, the Lightning are given the right of the first refusal or draft choice compensation should the player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club.

Forward David Broll was not issued a qualifying offer and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016.

BP Commentary (Chad): Really no huge surprises here. McGinn is a nice depth forward who will continue to help Syracuse. Gourde was not part of the Black Aces last year despite being a call-up earlier in the season, but he was hurt. He's also nice depth, a year removed from leading the Crunch in goals. Nesterov was a no-brainer though he's been passed by Slater Koekkoek, but again, depth. Broll's exit isn't surprising. Boko Imama could take his spot as the Crunch's pugilist, though he doesn't have a contract. Boko can go back to Saint John as an overager, or he could be signed to an AHL deal and have his rights retained, and therefore wouldn't count against the organization's 50-man roster. The guess here is Tampa Bay is in a wait-and-see mode over the summer.

NHL Game Night: 3-3-16 Lightning at Senators

Lightning overcome temporary brain deadness to run win streak to 8.

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OTT-1

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 34 shots for the victory. He was extremely solid, and he had to be to help the Lightning weather the important moments in this game.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:14 TB Paquette(5), (Brown, Hedman)
18:33 TB Palat(8), (Johnson)

Third Period
5:24 OTT Methot(3), (Smith)
18:14 TB Kucherov(25), (unassisted)
19:46 TB Stamkos(29), (Stralman)(EN)

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

The Lightning made that harder than they needed to, and it's not a tape they'll be looking at for aesthetic reasons. They built the 2-0 lead through 40 minutes by playing solid, opportunistic road hockey. They really were pushing hard for the put away goal early in the Third Period, and they started getting sloppy on their breakouts, which led to about 10-15 minutes of nail biting. You simply cannot have the unforced turnovers at your own blueline, and the Lightning were just playing braindead hockey for that span of the game. Fortunately Bishop was solid and fortunately Pageau made an even worse unforced turnover to Kucherov in the OTT slot to get the put away goal and avoid the photo finish.

At the time of this posting, Colorado holds a 3-2 lead over the Panthers. If that holds up, the Lightning will again be in a tie atop the Atlantic Division. Either way, the Lightning already have 8 of the minimum 12 points they need out of this 10 game segment of the season with 6 games left in it. That means they're in excellent shape to squirrel away a lot of points heading into the very last segment of the regular season.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:11. Tonight was his 41st game of the season, meaning he is now graduated from prospect status on the website. He put in a pretty good performance at both ends of the rink to celebrate the occasion, too.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-29-16 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Another workmanlike effort puts the Lightning into a 1st place tie in the Atlantic.

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TOR-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. After struggling to find the right formula for keeping Vasiy sharp and developing earlier in the year, the Lightning organization appears to have figured it out. His spot starts with Syracuse have been working and he was sharp as a Ginsu again this evening.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:53 TB Johnson(10), (Kucherov, Coburn)
15:28 TB Johnson(11), (unassisted)

Third Period
17:45 TOR Kadri(12), (Rielly, Gardiner)

Tyler Johnson and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning played a pretty strong road First Period and probably deserved to have a 1-2 goal lead coming out of the opening frame. But, with Garret Sparks playing well and getting plenty of luck from his friend the iron, the Lightning couldn't quite build up the big margin through 40 minutes, and come the Third Period they were running on fumes against a younger, fresher team. But, at no point did they panic. They played a poised game and they protected the lead and got the 2 points.

The Lightning's big playoff acquisition: the healthy return of Jason Garrison. It was not a moment too soon, either, with Andrej Sustr leaving the game in the Second Period with an unspecified malady.

With the victory, the Lightning have tied the Panthers at 78 points for the top spot in the Atlantic, with the Panthers holding a game in hand. The Lightning also have picked up 6 points so far in this 10-game segment of the season, meaning they have 7 more games to pick up the remaining 6 points they need to hit that minimum target of 12 points. In other words, they've set themselves up nicely to potentially build some padding in the standings for the first time this year. And, now that the calendar is flipping over to March, that's exactly what you want.

Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 15:03. That's Nikita's 40th game of the season, meaning his next appearance will graduate him from prospect status on the website. Marchessault's still got a decent chance to get to graduation this year, but that's about it. It's a far cry from where the Lightning were three years ago with rookies becoming NHL'ers left and right.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-28-16 Lightning at Bruins

Jack Edwards' tears are sweet.

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BOS-1

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 33 shots for the victory.

First Period
6:01 BOS Miller(5), (Kemppainen, Ferraro)
11:19 TB Killorn(12), (Stralman, Callahan)(PP)
14:39 TB Callahan(9), (Killorn)

Second Period
8:18 TB Callahan(10), (Stamkos, Stralman)(PP)
10:04 TB Stamkos(28), (unassisted)(PS)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Ryan Callahan, Steven Stamkos, and Bishop were the game's three stars.

Right now, the Lightning are playing fairly tight defense and they're pretty ruthless in capitalizing on their chances. The combination is absolutely potent, and these laughers where they build a 3 goal lead at the end of 40 minutes never get old. They're also really helpful on the front end of back-to-backs where you can conserve energy for the back end by playing an efficient Third Period. It's amazing how easy they made it look tonight given how close the two teams are in the standings, what was at stake, and the fact that Boston has been hell on earth for the Lightning over the past couple of decades.

With 20 games left to go in the season, the Lightning are 2 points back of the Panthers for the division lead. They're also 1 ahead in the win column and 4 ahead in ROW. Florida's margin is purely built on loser points, and I suspect Florida's recent flurry of trade acquisitions was prompted by the realization they're a paper tiger. Go get your banner, Lightning.

Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:56.

Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 15:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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