It was a postal convention at the Forum.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 30 shots but also allowed 1 of 2 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. He got a ton of help from his red iron friends, as did the Islanders' goaltender, Poulin, at the other end.
5:45 TB St Louis (21), (Filppula, Johnson)(PP)
18:22 NYI Vanek (17), (Nielsen, Tavares)(PP)
Bishop and Matt Carle were the game's second and third stars.
This was one of those games where neither team could get a bounce in an evenly played contest. Each team must've struck iron 4-5 times a piece, with the deciding misfortune being Filppula striking the post flush on the Lightning's first shootout attempt. Overall, the Lightning put together a better effort than they did in New York or Columbus in recent nights. They had, overall, about 45 minutes of pretty good hockey sandwiched around a plodding Second Period where it became clear the team was feeling the fatigue of their recent travel schedule. They're in the middle of a little marathon stretch of the schedule and they'll just need to keep grinding out points. There's not much else they can do.
Surprised Carle got the 3rd star over Hedman. Hedman had 6 shots on goal and was impressive pushing the offensive side of his game all night long.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:43. He oscillates between offensive zone promise and defensive zone turnovers, but throughout it all: magnificent hair.
J.P. Cote had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 9:52. He showed some nice offensive instincts jumping up into the rush and dishing off to the RW circles to Filppula for a chance. Had his pass been a little flatter Valtteri probably would've potted it.
J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 13:21 and rang a post like the Liberty Bell on a breakaway chance set up by line mate Kucherov early in the Second Period.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:54. As a spare forward, his ice time was disjointed but he had a pretty good shift in the Third Period guiding a puck deep out of danger, forechecking, and then back checking at the other end to break up an opportunity.
Nikita Kucherov was very dangerous tonight with 2 shots in 13:07. He had a good one-timer opportunity on the PP, sent in Brown on a breakaway, and set up Thompson for a nice opportunity where Nate failed to pull the trigger and didn't even manage a shot or pass.
Thank you, Al Trautwig.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 34 shots in his return to the Lightning crease for the victory. He had a little luck with posts and crossbars but looked really sharp and, just as important, the Rangers decided to attack his strength by going at him in tight. That's a fool's errand against Bishop.
11:55 NYR Richards (12), (Callahan, Hagelin)
1:10 TB Hedman (10), (St Louis, Purcell)(PP)
1:19 TB Kucherov (7), (Gudas, Brown)
Bishop and Valtteri Filppula were the game's first and second stars, officially. Unofficially, I'd like to thank MSG's Al Trautwig, who was my first star. The man actually uttered aloud that Lundqvist wanted the shutout in the First Intermission. Never has the s-word jinx been so strikingly illustrated. Paul Kennedy, pay attention to what happened tonight. Trautwig put the jinx on and the Lightning scored a pair of goals in the first 1:19 of the ensuing period (9 seconds apart) and the Rangers lost the game. The s-word jinx is real. It's really real.
Kidding aside (sort of), it was only a moderately better effort from the Lightning tonight versus the past couple of games. They came out with the proper level of emotion and desperation but that fizzled when the Rangers got their first goal and they carried the balance of the play throughout the night. The Lightning were very lucky to get 2 points tonight. But, you know, manufactured points still count in the standings, and with Boston going down to Toronto tonight the Lightning again hold a tie for the Atlantic Division lead at 60 points with the B's holding a game in hand. The Lightning have 3 games to go in this segment and 4 points to go to get to the target minimum of 12 points, so you can see how critical the victory was tonight.
Again, thank you Al Trauwig. What a rookie mistake from a guy who should absolutely know better.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 hit in 12:01. I was going to say something nice about him after the First Period. Then he allowed a breakaway in the Second Period and looked positionally lost the rest of the contest. Maybe next time.
J.P. Cote had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 12:33. The Rangers tried to test him with some soft dump ins to his corner to try to test his wheels and he did ok. Better than I thought he would, frankly.
J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 9:59. Cooper showed some love for his rookie putting J.T. out for the critical PK late in the Third Period.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:18. Again, I think he's smacked into the rookie wall at high speed and his diminishing ice time may be a reflection of that. He needs 3 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Richard Panik had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 12:21. Time to give some love to the improvised line of Malone/Pyatt/Panik tonight. They set the tone early on the forecheck and they stayed effective throughout the game. Panik created a decent chance at a possible insurance goal in the Third Period flattening Brad Richards and creating an ill advised turnover by the former Lightning center. That was good to see. He needs 4 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Nikita Kucherov had the game winning goal and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 9:18. He also had 5 shots that either missed the net or were blocked, so that's 7 shot attempts in a little over 9 minutes, which is a decent work rate on paper. More to the point: Kucherov scored for the first time on a regulation breakaway. I feel like we're supposed to sacrifice something or build a monument or perform some other great deed to commemorate the moment. I thought it might never come.
Successful road trip capped successfully.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 14 shots for the win. That was, on balance, a subpar game from Anders. He gave Winnipeg a 5-on-3 that they quickly scored on a delay of game call and he gave up a very soft short side, unscreened wrister on the Jets' other goal. He did make 1-2 key saves in the Third Period when called upon, but nothing about Lindback tonight inspired me to think that if he had faced more than a paltry 14 shots he would've been up to the task. Get well soon, Ben Bishop.
1:20 TB Filppula (17), (Purcell, Killorn)
16:43 WPG Jokinen (11), (Scheifele, Byfuglien)(PP)
4:45 WPG Byfuglien (10), (Wheeler, Pavelec)(PP)
15:37 TB Palat (8), (Kucherov, Killorn)
8:39 TB St Louis (18), (Hedman, Purcell)(PP)
19:33 TB St Louis (19), (Carle)(EN)
That was a different game, and honestly all 3 wins on this road trip had a distinctly different flavor to them. Tonight's was a game that was very choppy and, eventually, chippy. I'm surprised, given how young they are, that Winnipeg doesn't seem to have the speed/athleticism the Lightning have. So, Winnipeg tried to play a more physical style a la what the Rangers did around New Year's, but they don't really have to chops to pull it off. In the end, there were only two things that made the score respectable for the Jets: Ondrej Pavelec and, sadly, Anders Lindback. Otherwise, the Lightning outshot Winnipeg 33-14 even though this was a game that I wouldn't say had a ton of offensive flow for the Lightning.
I really have to say, there's a bit of a stench floating around that Jets team. When you think of how much enthusiasm was in that building when they got a team back a couple of seasons ago and how it was very subdued tonight, that's a losing, frustrated team that's starting to lose its fans. They're only 6 points out of the Wild Card in the Western Conference, but it really feels like that thing's going sideways there and I could see them being sellers soon.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 17:43. It's very hard to criticize anything a defense that only allowed 14 shots on goal did. If you're wondering, Radko will be the next to graduate from prospect status on the website. He needs just 3 more NHL games this season to get there. Panik 5. Sustr 6.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 blocked shots in 10:18. He took a potentially costly holding call with the game still on the line, but the PK bailed him out.
J.P. Cote had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 8:17. He also had a desperation play at the opposing blueline to save himself from allowing a breakaway. Artful? No. Effective? Yes.
Richard Panik had 1 hit in 10:36.
Nikita Kucherov had a key helper and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 14:38. He made a very quick, decisive pass on Palat's goal, which was really the momentum changer in this game. The Lightning really seemed to shake out of their slumber offensively after that beautiful tic tac toe play that also included Alex Killorn.
Bizarre and potentially costly loss for the Lightning.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 1 shot before leaving the game with an apparent hand/arm injury. We dare not speculate on what the injury actually is, although the play looked rather harmless. He reportedly received x-rays and will be re-evaluated tomorrow when the team gets to Winnipeg. I wish there was news to calm the nerves, but none is forthcoming right now. Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 25 shots the rest of the way for the defeat. I would hardly call that Lindback's best hockey with Edmonton's game winning goal coming on a goal that Lindback appeared to have stopped and then kicked into his own net.
2:43 TB Kucherov (6), (Carle, Gudas)(PP)
4:18 EDM Eberle (13), (Nugent-Hopkins, Hall)
6:09 EDM Eberle (14), (Gagner, Smyth)(PP)
15:42 EDM Gazdic (2), (Schultz, Jones)
8:47 TB Hedman (8), (Palat, Johnson)
14:25 TB Filppula (16), (Carle, Purcell)
8:20 EDM Gordon (7), (Hemsky, Smyth)
10:30 EDM Hall (16), (Ference, Gagner)
It's a disappointing effort by the Lightning, and one of the few times this season I think they failed to respect their opponent and lost because they didn't put a full effort in. I can excuse the First Period. The team looked shell shocked after their Vezina candidate left the game abruptly to get x-rays. I'll attribute the lethargic play and turnovers in the opening 20 minutes to that. But, I can't excuse the Third Period. It's like they expected Edmonton to just collapse under their own badness until Lindback decided to spot them the game winning goal. You hope that, A.) The Lightning learn the game gives you nothing for free, and B.) They don't regret failing to get a point or two out of this game in March and April when they're trying to nail down a playoff spot.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 20:33.
J.P. Cote had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 9:58. He handled Edmonton's speed better than I might have anticipated.
J.T. Brown was -1 with 1 shot and 5 hits in 14:13. His line was the Lightning's only active line in the First Period. Unfortunately, Brown hobbled off the ice late in the Third Period. Hopefully his name won't be added to the MASH Unit roster.
Andrej Sustr was -2 with 1 blocked shot in 10:44.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11. I'm beginning to feel like it's a waste of time putting him in the extra forward role. He doesn't seem to be in any flow when he gets opportunities with the puck.
Nikita Kucherov had a wicked 1-timer PP goal but finished -2 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 13:06.
Lightning fail to snowman Calgary only by the grace of Karri Ramo.
Ben Bishop stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout at the beginning of what we might title the 2014 Ben Bishop Shove it Up the Tailpipe of USA Hockey Management Tour. Mind you, he only had to make a couple of good stops all night despite the Lightning spending half of the game on the PK because Calgary is a talentless dumpster fire right now. None the less, enjoy, Brian Burke!
5:23 TB Palat (7), (Purcell, Barberio)
10:20 TB Kucherov (5), (Palat, Carle)
Bishop and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and third stars.
Wow Calgary stinks. Buffalo has the excuse of being young. Edmonton has the excuse of being young and undisciplined from a structure standpoint. Calgary just flat out doesn't have enough talent to compete in this league. Karri Ramo had to stand on his head just to make the night look respectable. The Lightning could have won this game by 8 goals were it not for Ramo, and that's even with taking most of the Third Period off and taking a bunch of penalties. If Bishop faced even a half dozen quality scoring chances in the entire game I'd be shocked. Through the first 4 or so Calgary PP's they only managed 1 shot on goal. I don't know what you take away from tonight's game because it's like a top-10 FBS school playing a FCS team that showed up for a paycheck. The Lightning handled their business in workmanlike fashion and we move on.
At the exact midpoint of the season, the Lightning have 54 points. That puts them on a pace for a 108 point season despite the absence of Steven Stamkos for a large stretch of the season thus far. That's nothing but impressive. The team has clinched no worse than a .500 record on this 4-game road trip and will take the show to Edmonton next.
Radko Gudas had 4 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 17:46. The Lightning might've paid for the penalties against a true NHL-caliber opponent, but Calgary stinks.
Mark Barberio had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots in 10:10. A game as tilted in the Lightning's favor as this one was, from a possession standpoint, automatically favors the strengths in Barberio's game.
Tyler Johnson was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 20:26 and he was 35% on draws. He caught a post 15 seconds into the game.
Alex Killorn was +1 with 1 shot in 17:06.
Palat had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:57. He whistled a wrist shot from the slot past Ramo's glove for the first goal of the game and whistled a sharp pass backdoor to Kucherov for the tap in for the insurance marker. On a team with a group of high quality rookies, it says something that Palat might be the best of the bunch halfway through the season.
J.P. Cote had 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 9:43.
J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 14:12. He also caught a post on a turnaround shot in the First Period.
Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 15:41.
Richard Panik played 9:00. He had one noticeable shift in the Third Period where he set up a play for Thompson off the rush and then drove the net to set a screen and later got a shot from the slot that was blocked.
Nikita Kucherov got the insurance goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 10:08. He also had the near-obligatory breakaway that he failed to score on, which is a feature of nearly every game Kucherov has played in the NHL thus far.
Tonight is the 41st NHL game of the season for Johnson, Palat, and Killorn, so they officially graduate from prospect status on Bolt Prospects. Congratulations to all three. They join Bishop, who technically graduated from overage prospect status in his win over Buffalo on October 8th in a 2013-2014 Bolt Prospects Alumni class which may well grow by another 3 members by the end of the month of January.
After midnight, we gonna let it all hang out.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory. He was a little iffy on his puck handling tonight, but otherwise had a workmanlike evening in a game where the Lightning didn't force him to have to stand on his head to get the W.
11:25 VAN Richardson (8), (Higgins)
15:27 TB Filppula (15), (Purcell, Killorn)
15:47 TB Johnson (11), (Palat, Barberio)
16:01 VAN Dalpe (1), (Weise, Sestito)
19:57 TB Kucherov (4), (Gudas, Carle)(PP)
7:28 TB Killorn (10), (Hedman, Filppula)
Valterri Filppula and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars.
I would like to think this effort tonight will raise some eyebrows around the NHL. True, Vancouver was without the injured Roberto Luongo, but the Lightning pretty well carried this game from start to finish. They jumped on Vancouver, which appeared unprepared for the Lightning's speed and system, early on, handled what little bit of a surge the Canucks could muster, and eventually cruised through the Third Period to the 4-2 win. Even better, the Lightning's puck movement on the PP was excellent tonight, eventually resulting in the game winning goal by Kucherov.
The Lightning closed out the 4th 10 game segment of the season with 15 points, earning 3 insurance points and giving them 4 total insurance points for the season. Those points may become valuable given how many road games the Lightning will be playing in January.
Tonight's game also put three prospects (Johnson, Killorn, and Palat) one game away from graduating from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects. The trio should cross the finish line Friday against Calgary.
Radko Gudas had a helper and was -1 with 1 shot in 20:19. He had a mistake on the Dalpe goal but got it back assisting on Kucherov's game winner.
Mark Barberio had a helper and 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:11. He got caught stepping up into no-man's land in the neutral zone on Richardson's goal.
Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 20:14. He was also 24% on draws. Vancouver was legitimately unprepared for Tyler Johnson's speed tonight, which resulted in his 2-on-1 tap in goal, a penalty he took on a near breakaway, and a few other dangerous rushes.
Alex Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:44. He got his helper leading a nice rush and setting a screen in front driving the net and he got his goal off a deflection. He's just a good complimentary scoring line winger. That's his role and he does it well.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:56. He made a nice pass to Johnson for the tap in goal and just flubbed a chance early on for a 1-timer point blank in the slot.
J.P. Cote had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 8:33.
J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:11.
Andrej Sustr was +2 with 1 blocked shot in 15:15.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot in 6:51.
Nikita Kucherov had the game winning goal, 3 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 12:38.
The common thing you'll note that is the younger prospects, going against a high quality opponent like Vancouver, saw their ice time reduced to protect them. Well done by the coaching staff.
Turnovers and poor luck doom the Lightning in their last game of 2013.
Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. It was one of those Lindback games where he wasn't the reason the Lightning lost, but he couldn't make the 1-2 key saves to be the reason they won.
4:30 NYR Nash (7), (Stepan)
10:41 TB Johnson (10), (Purcell, Filppula)(PP)
16:05 TB Palat (6), (Gudas, Cote)
18:25 NYR Zuccarello (9), (Brassard, McDonagh)(PP)
4:35 NYR Kreider, (Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh)(PP)
7:51 NYR Pouliot (7), (Brassard, Zuccarello)(PP)
8:14 TB Filppula (14), (Purcell, Korobov)
Teddy Purcell was the game's third star.
The effort for the Lightning tonight was very good. They had good speed and the passing was better in 2 of 3 zones than against Montreal. However, they really struggled getting out of their own end with turnovers and they had some bad breaks between pucks bouncing in off d-men and unlucky penalties with sticks breaking off a faceoff. Outshooting New York 40-29 they probably deserved better, and looking back at this weekend they may regret only getting 1 point out of these 2 games with so many road games coming up.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:03. He had a rough night. His turnover led to the first Rangers goal. He had the second bounce in off his skate. Then on the third goal he got caught flat footed for Kreider's breakaway. He'll want to burn that game tape.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:58. He was relatively mistake free in a game where everyone else played like a dumpster fire with the puck in their own third. Go figure.
Tyler Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 20:43 and he was 53% on draws. New York had no answers for his line's speed.
Alex Killorn had 4 shots and 2 hits in 18:04. His line did well generating a lot of greasy goal opportunities in tight but couldn't cash.
Ondrej Palat had the quick release rebound goal and was +1 with 4 shots in 19:29. Again, that line was all over the Rangers like fire ants tonight.
J.P. Cote had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:37. I thought he was absolutely hosed on the high sticking call that resulted in the GWG. To my eyes, they basically called J.P. For hitting someone too hard (but cleanly).
J.T. Brown had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:45. He made one sweet play off the rush that nearly resulted in beating a d-man one on one for a goal, but all in all his line was off tonight.
Dmitry Korobov had a helper, his first NHL point, 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 10:35. His foot speed has really showed up as a liability in the 2 games this weekend.
Nikita Kucherov played 16:19. It was perhaps his first really ineffective game offensively as an NHLer.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 16:42. He was credited with 1 giveaway. It felt like there were more. I thought it was his poorest game at breakout passing this season.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 7:27. He and Pyatt looked strong on the puck early, but played sparingly after a couple of defensive zone turnovers.
Now THAT was a holiday treat!
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He got the 3 goal lead, made a flurry of key stops toward the end of the Second Period, and the team got to throw it in cruise control the rest of the way. That's how you show the killer instinct to dispose of an inferior team.
18:56 FLA Bergenheim (5), (Barkov)(PP)
19:15 TB Killorn (9), (Filppula, Hedman)
3:22 TB Johnson (9), (Hedman, St Louis)
8:01 TB Filppula (13), (Purcell, St Louis)(PP)
12:07 TB St Louis (16), (Palat)
3:40 TB Brown (3), (Kucherov, Cote)
13:36 TB Brown (4), (Kucherov, Hedman)
This was billed as a clash of two of the hottest teams of the Eastern Conference. The Panthers saw this as an opportunity to make a statement in the last game before the holiday break in front of their home fans (all 3 of them). They made a statement all right. After a fairly even First Period the Lightning started to take territorial control in the Second Period, got a greasy goal to take the lead and the Panthers reacted to the slightest bit of adversity by absolutely dissolving. Undisciplined, stupid play helped the Lightning get a 3 goal lead at the end of the period, and they rewarded the 2 fans they had that stuck around for the final frame by absolutely laying down in the Third Period. They quit. No effort. Nil. Nada. Lightning fans, if you ever get to feeling down on your team, take a look downstate at that dumpster fire in Sunrise. Be glad you don't have to root for that bunch of lazy, unprofessional quitters.
The Lightning check into the holiday break having already secured the minimum 12 points they want from this 4th 10-game segment of the season. They'll get 3 games after the break to close out the segment and to try to rack up insurance points that may come in handy in January and into February. It's a fantastic spot to be in and a tribute to the guys that their record without one of the game's best players (Stamkos) is nearly identical as what their record was with Stamkos to start the year.
The victory also gives the Lightning the inaugural Governor's Cup, which can be now used to collect Bill Lindsay's tears, that I might drink of their sweet, sweet goodness.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:33. With Brewer out and Salo going down in the First Period, Gudas got the big minutes tonight.
Mark Barberio was +3 in 13:46. Two of those plusses came in garbage time in the Third Period after the Panthers chose to lay down. Again, with regard to Barberio's plus/minus, he's living a charmed life this season.
Tyler Johnson had the GWG and was +2 with 3 shots. He was also 54% on draws. He missed a second goal on a 1-time by just a dash, as well.
Alex Killorn was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 16:05. Killorn's goal 19 seconds after Bergenheim's gift from Carle completely negated the Panthers' momentum and set the stage for the Lightning to beat up their inner children all Second Period long.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:48. His nice feed to St. Louis on the 1-timer was almost for naught as Marty flubbed the shot, but he got just enough to put it in and get Ondrej on the scoresheet.
J.P. Cote had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 16:16. That, what, 2 assists in 3 games? They gave him #22 and he's putting up numbers like Dan Boyle. He's played mistake-free the past couple of games and he's consistently given the Lightning another big open ice hitter to go along with Gudas. As such, you've seen his ice time continue to go up with over 16 minutes tonight.
J.T. Brown had 2 goals and was +2 with 6 shots in 16:41. The Third Period, garbage time, was the Kucherov and Brownov show, with Brownov being the recipient of some great playmaking from Kucherov.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 helpers and was +2 with 2 shots in 16:04. He set up Brown's first goal with a great rush and move around the net and the second goal with an easy tap-in off a feed on a 2-on-1. In fact, it looked like he was going to be credited with Brown's first goal, but the scorekeepers realized only Kucherov shots from the high slot should count as regulation goals.
Andrej Sustr was +1 in 16:20. I'll be honest, although he hasn't made any egregious mistakes, it feels like he may be starting to hit a bit of a rookie wall. He's a slightly built guy and he's playing against guys with a lot more foot speed and upper body strength than him, and he's having a slightly rougher time keeping up 1-on-1. This break might be coming at a good time for him to rest and relax before heading out west.
Large kitchen sink eventually crushes Justin Peters.
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.
4:35 CAR Tlusty (5), (Dwyer, Nash)
16:12 TB Hedman (7), (Filppula, Killorn)
10:11 CAR Tlusty (6), (Staal, Hainsey)(SH)
7:56 TB St Louis (15), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
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.
Nashville almost got run out of the building.
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!
2:25 TB Killorn (8), (Hedman, Cote)
19:06 TB St Louis (14), (Salo, Killorn)(PP)
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)
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.