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.