Everything but the getaway for a night of Vasilarceniy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 38 shots before conceding to just 1 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.
14:31 MIN Niederreiter (18), (Granlund, Pominville)(PP)
17:16 TB Point (6), (Garrison, Killorn)
Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.
Brayden Point graduated from prospect status on the website in style with a goal. He was also +1 with 1 shot and he was 20% on 5 draws in 15:43.
Jake Dotchin had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:19.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 hit and was 44% on 9 draws in 10:09.
When Kucherov got his mojo back.
Ben Bishop turned aside all 28 shots he faced for the shutout victory. Got help from his horseshoe to usher back in a night of U. of Maine Justice.
7:46 TB Drouin (16), (unassisted)
6:55 TB Kucherov (20), (Namestnikov, Sustr)
11:02 TB Dumont (1), (Brown, Hedman)
18:18 TB Kucherov (21), (Namestnikov, Witkowski)
13:08 TB Coburn (2), (Drouin, Vermin)
Nikita Kucherov, Bishop, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. After struggling to regain his usual form for more than a month, Kucherov showed signs of getting back to his hold self in the last game against Anaheim. I'm happy to say the indications from that game were real and that Kucherov looks like he might be ready for a strong stretch run. As for the much maligned Namestnikov, he needs more nights like this because he's playing for his job in Tampa Bay at this point.
Do these back to back wins mean the Lightning suddenly have a chance to stride back into the playoff chase? Well, to comfortably make it in at 96 points, they'd need 42 of a remaining 56 points. Is a .750 winning clip realistic? There's your answer.
Brayden Point was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:49. He was also 29% on 7 draws. Point's next game will be his 41st of the season and he will graduate from prospect status on the website.
Luke Witkowski had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 8:25.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 5 hits in 14:00.
Gabriel Dumont had his first goal in a Lightning jersey and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:42. He was also an uncharacteristic 17% on 6 draws.
Joel Vermin had a helper and was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 10:29.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of a losing streak being snapped!
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 16 shots before conceding to 2 of 4 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stat line isn't great, but he made some key situational saves over the course of the game to eventually get the victory.
8:14 ANH Montour (1), (Silfverberg, Kesler)
9:48 TB Drouin (15), (Johnson, Kucherov)
10:56 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov)(PP)
4:02 ANH Getzlaf (8), (Bieksa, Kesler)
ANH- Silfverberg, Kesler
TB- Point, Kucherov, Boyle
Styles make the fight, and the quicker Tampa Bay Lightning drew a good matchup against a more plodding, big Anaheim team on the back end of a back-to-back situation. Tampa Bay didn't squander that advantage, playing with far more hustle than they did in the previous two contests. Clearly Jon Cooper challenged his guys to show some heart after the travesty of the past couple of outings, and it showed. More importantly, they actually got the payoff.
Brayden Point was -1 with 1 shot in 16:29. He was also 60% on 5 draws. He played well on some shifts with Drouin, which is something to watch going forward, in my opinion. And, he remains cash money all night in the Shootout.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:08. This was probably his best game at the NHL level thus far. Again, styles make the fight, and these Anaheim players aren't necessarily the speedsters who will give Dotchin trouble. He was assertive physically in separating guys from the puck and starting the breakout thereafter throughout the night.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 6:00 even. He also was 83% on 6 draws.
Joel Vermin had 2 hits in 6:45.
Dumpster fire continues to rage unchecked.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. He had one goal he probably needs back that went in off his glove. I can't fault him the rest, considering the drive by defense we saw most of the night. Still, it's a step backward after a string of quality starts by Vasilevskiy.
3:39 TB Johnson (16), (Kucherov)
6:33 OTT Stone (17), (Smith, Ceci)
11:03 OTT Turris (18), (Hoffman, Karlsson)(PP)
2:53 OTT Hoffman (18), (Turris, Stone)(PP)
7:46 TB Point (5), (Boyle, Palat)
9:22 OTT Stone (18), (Karlsson, Brassard)
19:35 OTT Kelly (4), (Karlsson)(EN)
Brayden Point was the game's third star. He's one of the players who needs the most vetting coming down the stretch of this lost season. He's responded well so far, and if he shows he's up to the task of playing center at the NHL level he may make Tyler Johnson expendable. Johnson, despite the goal he scored tonight, continues to make some very questionable decisions with the puck that are just infuriating to watch. He was a very good north-south player who has suddenly turned into an Old Marty St. Louis-style backward passing pain in the buttocks/liability, without the garbage time points.
At this point, we're watching the sad shell of a team that already appears to be going through the motions and anticipating their offseason tee times. I'm seeing players in position defensively but not making the extra effort to close out opposing shooters. I'm seeing board battles routinely lost by the team's best defenseman, Hedman. I'm seeing numerous mental mistakes at both bluelines with the puck by players who are just playing unfocused, careless hockey. At this point, it's clear the leadership of this team has evaporated and I've written off the chance of this team waking up until, maybe, Stamkos returns from injury. Get ready for a savagely bad next dozen or so games, at least.
Lay Down for Liljegren?
Make #2 for Makar?
Point had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot in 13:18. He was also 29% on 7 draws. He's been the silver lining in the past two very dreary games.
Luke Witkowski had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 10:58.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 19:09.
Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 8:14.
Lightning go meekly into that good night.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the loss. His inability to make situational saves cost the Lightning dearly in this one. Short of showcasing Bishop for a trade, I don't see much purpose in feeding him starts moving forward. Vasilevskiy got rolling a little before the All-Star Break. The Lightning need to make sure of what they have in Andrei.
8:41 TB Killorn (14), (Hedman, Johnson)
18:08 BOS Bergeron (12), (McQuaid, Marchand)
19:59 BOS Krejci (12), (Marchand, Miller)
4:46 TB Killorn (15), (Hedman, Johnson)
7:51 BOS Chara (4), (Miller, Beleksey)
12:23 BOS Vatrano (6), (Krejci, Miller)(PP)
17:56 TB Point (4), (Hedman, Dotchin)
Alex Killorn was the game's second star.
The Lightning played a really solid first half of this game to build a 1-0 lead, and then waved the white flag of surrender for the final thirty minutes. What you witnessed was a Lightning team that lethargically gave away a couple of goals with sleepy play late in the Second Period and then played back on their heels most of the Third Period. And, even when they fell behind 3-2, they had a chance to turn the momentum of the game when Tyler Johnson did the unthinkable and passed out of a breakaway. Let me reiterate that: Tyler Johnson passed out of a breakaway. I just... what do you say about that. He passed... out of a breakaway?
Brayden Point had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:47. He also was 33% on 6 draws. You could make an argument he was the Lightning's best player in his return afer missing about a month due to injury. He's now 4 games from graduation from prospect status on the website.
Jake Dotchin had a helper, his first NHL point, and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 20:25. Re-read that minutes total. There's no more resounding an indictment of the Lightning right side defenseman situation that that.
Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 10:34. He was also 67% on 9 draws. He's been hot fire in the faceoff circles and shown a lot of hustle in his checking line role.
Lightning soar from the ashes for turning point victory.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the win. Let's be real: Vasilevskiy's teammates got him off the hook tonight. His puckhandling gaffe in the First Period is the kind of mistake that almost always ends up being the margin of losing in a game like this. Vasilevskiy worked very hard on his puckhandling and awareness around the cage in the offseason and showed glimmers of improvement early in the year, but he's slid back pretty hard in those areas recently. He's got to cut those soft and semi-soft goals that come from mistakes around the back of his cage out of his game. Immediately.
3:24 MTL Radulov (7), (Byron)
10:39 TB Johnson (10), (Kucherov, Palat)
13:31 MTL Weber (9), (Byron, Pacioretty)(PP)
3:07 MTL Terry (2), (Carr, McCarron)
11:14 TB Hedman (7), (Kucherov)
16:30 TB Palat (5), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
1:36 TB Johnson (11), (Garrison, Vasilevskiy)
This was a game where there were a lot of positive things being accomplished by the Lightning through the first 50 minutes of it, and yet it seemed the team was destined for tragedy nonetheless. They had a little rust in the First Period from so many guys returning from injury, but all in all they played Montreal pretty even and only Vasilevskiy's mistake was the margin that put them in a one goal hole. I thought they methodically took control of the game at even strength in the Second Period, but got an opportunistic counterattack goal scored on them after some great goaltending by Price, and heading into Second Intermission down two goals, things looked dire. For this team to find a way to scratch within one goal and get the tying goal on the power play when they absolutely had to have it may very well be the turning point of the season. They still have to follow this up with a result against Toronto tomorrow night, but at this hour you can see a little light at the end of the tunnel after a long, miserable last month and a half of dealing with injuries and inconsistency.
A brief note on the officiating in the Third Period. First, Shea Weber darn near killed Vladislav Namestnikov on a play where he pretty much lawn darted him head first into the boards crossing the Montreal blueline. Was it charging? Yes. Weber moved from the center of the ice all the way over to the boards with several strides with the intent of putting Namestnikov in a body bag. The only thing I think that mitigated the situation from an officiating standpoint is that Weber didn't gallop over there at full speed or leave his feet to land the hit. And, frankly, Namestnikov did a really poor job of protecting himself in that situation knowing Montreal has a few killers on their backline. Should there have been a call there? Yep. Game misconduct? I don't know about that. Supplemental discipline? If what DeHaan did to Drouin earlier this season didn't merit a suspension, I'm not sure you can make this case this does. DeHaan, from the high angle camera, clearly went in with an elbow to Drouin's head. Weber's hit was a hockey hit, albeit one executed with too many strides beforehand. I've seen guys get away with worse against the Lightning earlier this year, so I'm not sure Weber's going to get the book thrown at him for this, and I'm not sure I can muster the same level of outrage about this one as I can about those other calls. Second, the too many men call: Cooper and the coaching staff were being slick and nearly pulled it off sending Kucherov off the bench for the hop off breakaway, but I do think Boyle was too far away from the bench and I think that given the play did result in a breakaway the refs had to call it. If the situation had been reversed, I do think we'd be really upset if the other team got away with having a guy 15 feet from the bench on that play when his replacement hopped on. So, neither of those may be the popular opinions, but they're honest ones, at least. Now, would we have gotten that call if the roles were reversed given the latent pro-Montreal bias in the officiating corps? That's a debate for another night.
The Lightning HAD to have the win tonight. With Kucherov, Palat, and a partridge in a pear tree returning from injured reserve, and the standings math being what it is, they needed to get points out of this game. Thank goodness they pulled them out. When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. For the Lightning, that meant at least getting 12 points out of this 10 game segment of the season and not making the 4 point deficit behind playoff pace any worse. A loss tonight would've put the Lightning in the unenviable position of needing 7 out of 8 possible points over the next 4 games to make that meager goal possible. Now they just need 5 out of 8, which is very do-able, and you hope they can clinch that in the next 3 games and have that 4th game to try to "pay down the debt," so to speak, as they try to get their playoff hopes fully recovered. So, big win. Now whip Toronto and put yourselves in an even better position.
Brayden Point had a helper and was -2 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 19:33. He was also a gaudy 73% on 11 draws in the circles.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:31.
Matthew Peca had 1 shot and 2 hits and was 50% on 12 draws in 13:03 in his NHL debut. I was impressed. Truly. If there's one silver lining to Namestnikov getting his clock cleaned, it may be a little longer look at Peca. You saw some of the concerns with his game tonight, specifically where he got ragdolled off the puck a little because of his small size, but overall there's a lot to work with there because I think he's got such a wide ranging skill set. Coming out of Quinnipiac, he always displayed a lot more speed and creativity than he's shown consistently, in my opinion, in Syracuse. I think that's because he's been a very malleable player as a pro in that he will morph his game to suit the role and the linemates he's put together with. So, when he got an opportunity to play with speedy skilled players like Drouin, for instance, he was able to keep up. He showed his speed and his creativity on top of the fact that he is willing to at least get his nose dirty along the wall even if he may lose some battles because of his lack of size. He's a guy I can honestly see thriving anywhere you put him on the third or fourth line and he can even do spot duty, convincingly, on the second line. The ceiling's just a lot higher than Vermin or Richard or some of the other recent recalls, in my opinion, and that's why I'm pretty excited about what I saw tonight. I think his debut hints at some exciting possibilities and a guy who could be a leadership piece among the next wave of youngsters with half of Team Canada's WJC team seemingly coming into the organization starting next year to mix in with him.
Schedule and injuries victimize the Lightning.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 24 shots for the loss before being lifted for Kristers Gudlevskis, who stopped all 3 shots he saw in garbage time. I wasn't in love with the 1st and 4th goals Vasilevskiy gave up, not that this atrocity was his fault.
0:55 WSH Carlson (2), (Alzner, Wilson)
15:42 WSH Carlson (3), (Johansson, Backstrom)
10:48 WSH Ovechkin (15), (Orlov)
8:33 WSH Johansson (13), (Backstrom)
No chance. The Lightning got to Washington at 2:30 am last night after their game against St. Louis already hobbled with multiple injuries. You had guys like Bournival who have played something like 6 of the last 8 days along with the travel. Stralman looked like he was completely running on fumes. This was a schedule loss, plain and simple, and it was made worse by fatigue leading to multiple injuries. Drouin and Coburn went out. Hedman went out and came back in. The Lightning would've been better off not getting of the plane and declaring this a no contest. This schedule in the first three months of the year has been as vicious as I think I've seen in the league for a Lightning team. They've been grinded down into the ground and they just collapsed under the weight of it tonight.
Unfortunately, halfway through this fourth ten game segment of the season, the Lightning need 7 of a possible 10 remaining points in the segment just to tread water and not dig their hole deeper in their playoff pursuit. Fortunately, the Lightning do have a glut of home games and hopefully a glut of guys returning from injury to try to make some hey with over the course of those five games.
Brayden Point was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 19:35.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:34.
Tanner Richard was -1 with 2 hits and he was 38% on 13 draws in 16:07.
You get a minus. And, you get a minus. And, YOU get a minus!
The Bournival Ultimatum: Beat St. Louis.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory. The good ones respond to giving up a couple in the opening frame by shutting the door the rest of the way. That's exactly what Vasilevskiy did tonight.
14:11 STL Perron (9), (unassisted)
14:43 STL Megan (1), (Reaves, Edmundson)
9:48 TB Boyle (8), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
17:27 TB Bournival (1), (Garrison, Brown)
5:25 TB Killorn (11), (Stralman, Hedman)
18:20 TB Drouin (9), (Filppula, Stralman)
19:29 TB Drouin (10), (Hedman, Filppula)(EN)
Just when you think the team is ready to collapse under the weight of the bloated, overfed injury bug that has feasted on the roster all year, the Lightning show the pride of an elite franchise and rise from the ashes. The Lightning went tonight without Paquette and Namestnikov, which led to the quick recall of Michael Bournival and playing Nikita Nesterov at forward (by the way, let's not be quick to dismiss the whole "Nesterov to forward" idea). The Lightning came out and played a sloppy First Period falling behind 2-0. Vultures were circling. Anton Stralman was threatening to politely go postal in the intermission interview. And then, the Lightning resolved to tighten up their game, and the final 40 minutes became a Lightning clinic. Bournival, fresh off the airplane, tied the game on a tip late in the Second Period setting the stage for a Third Period that was punctuated by Jonathan Drouin literally breaking a goaltender on a deke. Not figuratively. In basketball, they talk about a guard figuratively breaking a defender's ankles with a cross over. So sudden and nasty was Drouin's deke left to right on the Lightning's fourth goal that he literally broke Jake Allen. I don't think I've ever seen that in a game. Mercy. Merci.
Brayden Point had 2 shots and 1 hit in 18:46 and was 29% on 7 draws. He had a turnover in the First Period that ended up in the back of the Lightning net, which is a rare mistake this year for a player who has shown maturity beyond his years.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 13:24.
Tanner Richard was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:37. He was also 83% on his 6 draws.
Lightning dominate Wings even as injuries continue to mount.
Ben Bishop stopped all 4 shots he faced before leaving in the First Period with an apparent groin or other kind of soft tissue injury. I'm not a doctor, but I'll play one on the internet: the eye test indicates that's likely a week-to-week injury rather than a day-to-day injury, but we'll see and hold out hope. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal (with under 11 seconds left to go) on 23 shots for the rare back door win. Hmmmmm.
7:02 TB Boyle (7), (Stralman, Drouin)
7:41 TB Drouin (8), (Killorn, Johnson)(PP)
17:04 TB Point (3), (Johnson, Hedman)
19:27 TB Namestnikov (4), (Killorn, Point)
19:49 DET Mantha (5), (Jensen, Zetterberg)
Jonathan Drouin, Brayden Point, and Brian Boyle were the game's three stars. Drouin and Point were very dangerous all game and Drouin is starting to be the star his skill set always said he was going to be. If he ever figures out the nuances of situational hockey on top of this, he's going to be a Hall of Famer.
Point had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 2 shots in 19:32. He could've had a second goal easily on a shot where he hit the goalpost flush.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit in 11:23.
Tanner Richard had 1 shot, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot and was 27% on 11 draws in 12:23 in his NHL debut. He wasn't glaringly good or bad, which is neither particularly good or bad for a first game. He'll need to get used to going against the best faceoff men in the world at this level and I think the speed of the skaters up top will be a challenge for him to adjust to.
Lightning close out a .500 road trip.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before allowing 2 of 3 to convert in the Shootout for the penalty shot session loss. What's the difference between this game and the game against Vancouver? One less bit of bad luck, but more importantly better situational goaltending and no softies. Bishop made sure the Lightning kept contact in the First and Second Periods. It's a shame his PK couldn't help him get it over the finish line in regulation. He played well.
3:58 EDM Lucic (9), (Draisaitl, Sekera)(PP)
18:59 TB Drouin (7), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
2:35 TB Johnson (9), (Conacher, Nesterov)
7:03 EDM Draisaitl (14), (Letestu, Sekera)(PP)
EDM- Letestu, McDavid
Victor Hedman was the game's second star. He played 28:26 tonight on the tail of a back-to-back and was good from the first shift to the last.
Coming into this game, after looking underwhelming against the Canucks and losing Paquette from the lineup, the expectations were low for the night. In pregame, the HNIC crew didn't mince words about Tampa's chances, or lack thereof. The Lightning weathered kind of a tough First Period just continued to get stronger at 5v5 as the game wore on. By the Third Period, despite being the more road weary team, they were fairly dominant in possession and managed to build the 2-1 lead. It's tough that they couldn't close it out in regulation and tough Namestnikov had a chance in OT that came within an eyelash of securing the second point, but there was a lot to like tonight. Under the gun with roster issues and fatigue issues, the Lightning trusted their structure and played well within it. When guys like Palat and Kucherov return, there's reasons for optimism even though there's no moral victories with the standings situation what it is at the moment.
Brayden Point had a helper, 2 PIMs, and 1 shot in 23:33. He was also 30% on 10 draws. Tonight was one of the 2-3 best games he's had all season, faceoffs aside, and his ice time reflected it.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 7:23. He got on the wrong side of a 50/50 play and took the penalty that allowed Edmonton to tie the game at 2-2. Later in the game he made a decent breakout play under duress in a key shift late in the Third Period. Mixed bag.
Joel Vermin had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:42. He crushed Sekera on a hit that was a thing of beauty.