Miserable weekend ends on a hopeful note.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout victory. His 2.01 GAA and .935 sv% thus far this season marks a clear progression from the previous two seasons when he muddled around the .900 sv% mark.
SYR Blunden, (4) (Peca, Nesterov), 4:05
SYR Paradis, (4) (Mormina, Richard), 15:41
SYR Blunden, (5) (Nesterov, DeAngelo), 18:51 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (4) (Richard, Paradis), 18:31 (EN)
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Baby Triplets and Wilcox steal the show.
Adam Wilcox sparkled, allowing just 1 goal on 26 shots for his first pro victory. The pendulum has swung a little bit, with Gudlevskis looking a little subpar in his first game back from Tampa Bay, and maybe Wilcox move to the top spot next weekend.
SYR Marchessault, (5) (Richard, Koekkoek), 10:02
SYR Marchessault, (6) (Gourde, Richard), 14:42
LV MacDonald, (1) (Gostisbehere, Brent), 19:42 (PP)
Coach Zettler may have found a gem with the assembling of the line with Marchessault, Gourde, and Tanner Richard this weekend. The line generated 4 goals in 2 games this weekend, and look like they'll have some longevity if they can stay in Syracuse together. Unfortunately, with Palat injured tonight up top, one of these forwards (Marchessault) may have to be earmarked for a trip to the big club.
Looks like Nikita Nesterov will also be recalled after a 2 game confidence/conditioning stint this weekend with the Crunch.
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.
Lightning crush Sabres against the run of play.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. I still don't think he's 100% up to NHL speed following the puck, but there were a couple of times in this game you could see his quickness and technical proficiency with his angles really got into Buffalo's shooters' heads. They were cutting it fine because they felt they had to against the big Russian mountain.
5:55 TB Stamkos (7), (Filppula, Palat)
11:35 TB Johnson (2), (Killorn, Kucherov)
18:20 TB Kucherov (5), (Namestnikov, Coburn)
4:21 BUF Eichel (5), (Weber, Ennis)
19:30 TB Hedman (1), (Sustr)(SH)
Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and second stars.
Hockey's a funny sport. The Lightning played a much better game against Detroit last time out and couldn't find the payoff for the chances they manufactured with their hard work. Tonight, I felt they got outworked and they definitely got outchanced and outshot, on balance, by Buffalo. The Sabres had their forecheck really working on the Lightning in the first 40 minutes, but when the Lightning were able to break that pressure and come out of their zone, they were able to catch Buffalo on 3-on-2's on the counter. The skill players did the rest to build the 3-0 lead. They probably didn't deserve to have that big of a margin, but considering how snake bitten they've been offensively, I'm not going to complain about it. They were definitely guilty of playing down to their opponent and even more guilty of taking their foot off the gas once they got up 3-0. But, to their credit, they really tightened up defensively in the Third Period to quell the Buffalo uprising and deliver the W.
With the win, the Lightning have 6 points through 6 games of this 10 game segment of the season. A win against Minnesota would be tremendous if they can get it next time out.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 15:40. The stat line looks OK, but I think the tape will reveal Nesterov didn't cloak himself in glory tonight. He looked like the physically overmatched young blueliner that struggled in his rookie pro season of North American hockey tonight, taking some big hits and getting overwhelmed physically, rather than the offensive juggernaut he was in his sophomore pro campaign. Not his finest hour.
No relief for Lightning offensive woes.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 33 shots for the loss. Can the team in front of Ben please give him a break and get him a sliver of goal support?
7:51 TB Kucherov (3), (Namestnikov, Palat)(PP)
16:53 BOS Beleskey (2), (Miller, Hayes)
5:54 BOS Connolly (4), (Marchand, Chara)(PP)
18:50 BOS Marchand (5), (unassisted)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
I don't want to overplay this by saying the Lightning played horrible, because I thought they played a pretty honest game nose to nose with a hot Boston team tonight. But, they're still not doing enough to generate the greasy goals they need to snap out of this funk they're in. They were inconsistent tonight with what they need to do, which is to start throwing pucks from all angles into dangerous areas and having as many bodies as possible crashing those dangerous areas. There's still too much of a reliance on the rush to generate chances and too much of a willingness to pass the puck around the perimeter in search of more pristine but also unscreened looks at the net. Tonight was a little bit better, but it still wasn't good enough, and I still don't see the number of goalmouth scrums I'd expect to see from a frustrated, goal hungry team. They need to be playing to the echo of the whistle right now and they also need to be unafraid to mix it up if that's what it takes to break out of this antiseptic rut that they're in. It also wouldn't hurt if the team's power play didn't choose the biggest moments of the game to play their worst hockey. It's been an annual rite of passage to watch this power play underachieve.
Bolt Prospects Alumni Brett Connolly with the winner for Boston. Off the Christmas card list. We'll fix your little red wagon.
Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 2 hits in 7:02.
Nikita Nesterov had 4 hits in 18:00 in his first night assuming a good chunk of minutes for the scratched Matt Carle. Those expecting Carle's absence to be the panacea for all the team's woes learned tonight the scope of their problem is larger than just their third pair left defenseman, but I do think Nesterov showed he's no worse of an option than Carle in the near term.
Lightning lose against the run of play, and the iron, and the refs...
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 23 shots for the hard luck loss. I thought his rebound control got a little shaky for a little stretch in the Second Period, but overall he looked a lot sharper with rest.
15:59 STL Gomez (1), (Parayko, Brouwer)
19:19 STL Brouwer (3), (Pietrangelo)(EN)
Bishop was the game's third star.
This is a tough one to swallow. The Lightning can play better, especially in the way of manufacturing some greasy goals in the dirty areas, but this isn't like the Chicago game. They dominated possession and the run of play against St. Louis and they really probably deserved better than a loss. It was a pretty good road performance against a good squad and ultimately nothing for the team to hang their head about to close this road trip.
Of course, the outcome would've been different were it not for the horrific officiating the Lightning had to overcome tonight, especially in the Third Period as they pushed for the equalizer. J.T. Brown gets body slammed in the Second Period. No call. Ondrej Palat gets tripped along the wall in the Second Period. No call. Nesterov gets tripped in the offensive zone in the Third Period. No call. Condra gets tripped in the neutral zone in the Third Period. No call. The Lightning technically went 0-for-1 on the PP thanks to a generous 20 seconds of PP time awarded after an even-up call where the refs whistled Tampa Bay for too many men... on a play where St. Louis also had six skaters on the ice. When one team has a possession edge the way the Lightning did tonight and as well as their forecheck functioned at times, it seems a wee bit suspicious that the other team gets 3 times the PP time. Indeed, as the Third Period wore on, it became clear nothing less than first degree homicide was going to be called on St. Louis in this game. Tell me how depriving one of the most offensively talented teams in the league, Tampa Bay, of any real power plays while on national TV on NBCSN helps the NHL sell its product? I know, I know. Toronto says, "Shut up Lightning fans. It's a privilege for the team just to be allowed to play in the league." It's a total joke.
Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:51. He also had one of the more heinous turnovers in front of Bishop you'll ever see and the penalty he took was at a key time of the game when the Lightning were trying to get an equalizer. It was the very definition of a game where a young guy did the opposite of what he needs to do to make a case for himself to get steady ice time.
Gudlevskis gets the Lightning across the finish line...
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the OT loss. Truth be told, the Lightning threw him to the wolves tonight with the hope that he would somehow be able to steal a point or two and he did. For the first time in his career, and I hate to possibly jinx it, he's starting to show some consistency game to game. He's as athletically gifted as just about anyone to come through this organization with his size and freakish quickness. If he starts to settle down a play consistently, he's a legit future NHL starter with those gifts, although it might not happen in Tampa with the logjam in the organization.
0:17 CHI Toews (1), (Kane, Seabrook)
Gudlevskis was the game's third star.
Even in defeat, as frustrated as they were on offense, the Lightning have to be ecstatic to get a point out of this game. They were coming off an OT game against Winnipeg last night against the defending champs in their barn with the organization's third string goalie between the pipes. Gudlevskis was as close to a sacrificial lamb as there is in hockey tonight as the Lightning made the strategic choice to try to get Bishop rested for the road trip finale in St. Louis. Under those circumstances, I'm happy.
The Lightning got their 4th point of the road trip and will finish no less than .500 on a swing through arguably the NHL's toughest division. That's nothing to sneeze at considering the Lightning aren't playing their best hockey yet. More importantly, Gudlevskis delivered the Lightning their 12th point of the season. For the uninitiated to the site, we break regular season hockey into 10 game segments. If you get at least 12 points every 10 games, you stay comfortably on pace to get to the playoffs. Gudlevskis got the Lightning over the 12 in 10 finish line tonight with 1 more game to go in the segment. Getting a couple of insurance points in St. Louis would be fantastic, but either way the Lightning fought off any potential Stanley Cup Final hangover and got their 12 in 10. Now, they need to do it again.
Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 13:19.
Lightning reminded about the importance of details.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He got outplayed by Lehtonen at the other end and he ultimately denied his team a chance to win this game. His poor rebound on Dallas' first goal allowed them to turn the momentum early in the game and the softie on the 5th goal killed any chance the Lightning had of completing the comeback.
2:24 TB Stamkos (3), (Drouin)
8:58 DAL Seguin (1), (Jokipakka, Benn)
14:14 DAL Benn (3), (Spezza, Seguin)(PP)
9:34 DAL Eakin (3), (Janmark, Sceviour)
18:12 DAL Demers (1), (Eakin, Hemsky)(PP)
7:06 TB Namestnikov (1), (Stamkos)
8:44 TB Stamkos (4), (Drouin, Boyle)
10:29 DAL Spezza (4), (Hemsky, Goligoski)
Steven Stamkos was the game's second star.
By all of the advanced metrics you want to put to this game, the Lightning dominated. Possession. Chances. Shots. They were all over Dallas. But, hockey's a cruel sport when you don't mind the details. Subpar goaltending will kill you. Poor defensive coverage against the rush will kill you. Special teams will kill you. The Lightning could have, and maybe should have slain Dallas in this game, but they allowed those three areas to completely undermine any possibility of getting a win tonight. Bishop will rebound, so I'm not overly worried about the goaltending. And, the defensive zone coverage against the rush is correctable by a quality coaching staff. It's the penalty kill that is incredibly worrisome right now. It has cratered to 2013-2014 levels through 5 games.
If there's a silver lining, it's that Drouin/Stamkos is turning out to be everything we envisioned it would be at Bolt Prospects. For everyone who criticized the editorial position of the website last season that Drouin needed to be playing with Stamkos, and for everyone else foolish enough to try to label Drouin a bust, the proof's in the pudding through 5 games. Right now they're the undisputed top line of the team and the Triplets are swimming in their jet fumes trying to keep up. Once the Triplets do start to get on track from a production standpoint, have mercy on the NHL.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 15 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 11:57. His major and game misconduct for boarding in the Second Period was deserved, and he will likely be suspended. Coupled with a likely concussion suffered by Hedman, expect one or two defensive callups from Syracuse. Nesterov's penalty, frankly, put the nail in the Lightning coffin tonight. As bad as their PK was playing, giving Dallas a 5 minute opportunity to build the 3 goal lead just before the Second Intermission was just too much for the Lightning to overcome. And, once again, it was made plain just how hard it is to overcome a 3 goal deficit in the final frame in pro hockey. It's just a death sentence when you're trying to come from that far down.
Road weary Lightning fade in 3rd game in 4 nights.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He was screened/was dealing with traffic on both goals he allowed.
17:52 DET Nyquist (1), (Kronwall, Zetterberg)(PP)
8:25 DET Zetterberg (2), (Larkin, Quincey)
11:03 TB Callahan (2), (Drouin, Stralman)
18:12 DET Quincey (1), (Miller, Richards)(EN)
Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star.
The Lightning really ran out of gas for much of the final two periods of the game. Playing their 3rd game in 4 days, they had very little push until they were chasing the game down 2-0. It didn't help that Detroit played the game like it was their Stanley Cup Final.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 17:19.
God still hates Panthers fans in the preseason, too.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the loss. That's what an elite goaltender does. If he gives up 2 in the First Period, he doesn't panic. He puts it on lockdown and gives his team an opportunity to comeback and win the game. I have a feeling Bishop's going to have an even better season this year than last season.
12:47 FLA MacKenzie (1), (Howden, Petrovic)
18:47 FLA Bjugstad (1), (Campbell, Pirri)(PP)
14:34 TB Palat (1), (Boyle, Hedman)
16:12 TB Boyle (1), (Condra, Drouin)
17:58 TB Drouin (1), (Nesterov, Stralman)
The Lightning haven't quite gotten the offense fully clicking, but you see the impressive array of weapons they have up and down the lineup and Drouin looks like he's going to take the league by storm this year. As things continue down the stretch to the regular season, the Lightning proved to themselves tonight they can come back on the road against a world class goaltender in Roberto Luongo. That's a nice psychological edge for the team to have in their back pockets.
Mike Angelidis was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 5 hits in 9:40.
Nikita Nesterov had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot on goal, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:54. Uncommonly low shot attempt total (1) from the Chelyabinsk Chain Gun tonight.