Must win game gets won.
Dan Ellis allowed 2 goals on 36 shots in the win.
19:59 Stamkos (16), St Louis (13), Malone (8)(PP)
12:49 TB Clark (3), St Louis (14), Stamkos (14)(PP)
17:26 NYI Moulson (7), Konopka (1)
18:31 TB St Louis (8), Downie (7), Lundin (4)
18:52 NYI Tavares (7), Moulson (5), Wisniewski (12)
19:44 TB Thompson (2), unassisted(EN)
Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars. I don't know what the Isles ever did to Marty, but he seems to relish ripping their hearts out and stomping on them. He's filthy in the third period of close games against the Isles.
This was a crucial win for the Lightning to arrest any potential feefall while trying to get healthy. They've got Downie back, Gagne's back in practice, and Lecavalier's about 4.5 weeks out. So they can't lose to the handful of teams they should pound in the meantime, like the Islanders, and they didn't tonight.
Mattias Ritola had 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and was 75% on draws in 5:09. His major penalty was for charging.
Johan Harju had 1 shot and 1 hit in 6:41. I thought Johan showed a little more of his defensive game tonight, helping his line clog up the neutral zone.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 2 blocked shots in 9:28.
If it weren't for bad luck, the Lightning would have no luck, right now.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the loss.
07:16 MIN Clutterbuck (6), Cullen (11), Havlat (10)(PP)
11:31 TB St Louis (7), Clark (4), Stamkos (13)(PP)
12:55 MIN Madden (3), Havlat (11), Zidlicky (5)
19:30 MIN Miettinen (4), Brunette (6), Koivu (12)(PP)
19:11 MIN Nystrom (1), unassisted(EN)
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
Despite outshooting Minnesota 38-18, the Lightning didn't generate as many chances as the lopsided shot totals might suggest. People thinking it's easy to absorb losing a player like Vincent Lecavalier out of your lineup, and especially off your power play, should take notice.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 10:57 and was 43% on draws.
Johan Harju was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 9:10. He was soft a couple of times along the wall, weakly moving a puck blindly to a Minny point man on one play and meekly moving a puck along in the neutral zone on another. Other than blind passes to the middle of the ice, that's the quickest way I know of to get an NHL coach to send you back down.
Dana Tyrell played a very quiet 8:56.
The Lightning's MASH unit finally collapsed in the final eight minutes of the game.
Mike Smith allowed 5 goals on 20 shots for the loss. One softie.
08:01 PIT Dupuis (5), Letang (13), Talbot (2)
08:28 PIT Goligoski (4), Rupp (3), Letestu (5)
05:30 TB Stamkos (15), St Louis (12), Purcell (7)(PP)
12:12 PIT Talbot (3), unassisted
16:44 PIT Crosby (11), Dupuis (3)
18:50 PIT Engelland (1), Crosby (13), Kunitz (5)
It's tough to go into a game without three of your best forwards (Gagne, Lecavalier, and Downie) battle to within an eyelash of tying the game at 2-2, and see it disintegrate in the final eight minutes. There's been no shame in the way the Lightning have played the past couple of nights, but psychologically Guy Boucher has his work cut out for him to reinstill their confidence.
Mattias Ritola was -1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 12:51.
Johan Harju was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:54. He got stronger as the game progressed after looking lost in the first period. He'll be fine with a little more experience under his belt.
The Lightning played a lot better than the score indicates.
Dan Ellis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the loss. I didn't think he played as poorly as his stat line indicates, either.
09:27 TB Purcell (2), Bergenheim (4), Thompson (4)
02:21 WSH Poti (1), Semin (8), Backstrom (11)
07:51 WSH Knuble (3), Laich (7), Fleischmann (4)
02:43 TB Malone (2), St Louis (10), Stamkos (12)(PP)
04:33 WSH Semin (10), Backstrom (12), Ovechkin (13)(PP)
10:46 WSH Semin (11), Backstrom (13), Ovechkin (14)
12:43 TB Stamkos (14), Moore (2), St Louis (11)
15:08 WSH Ovechkin (9), Semin (9), Schultz (4)
19:44 WSH Semin (12), Backstrom (14), Carlson (7)(EN)
It's tough. They outshot the Caps 41-26 in the game and were about even, I imagine, in chances. Their guys beared down on their chances. The Lightning didn't. This could've been a 6-3 game in favor of the Lightning pretty easily if they got the bounces. I'll take the effort the Lightning gave tonight on most nights. The big drama now, though, is what the fallout will be from Vincent Lecavalier not touching the ice in the third period. Injured? Benched? We shall see.
UPDATE: Lecavalier broke his right hand and is out indefinitely.
Mattias Ritola was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:20.
Dana Tyrell was -2 in 11:14 with 1 shot. He seemed off tonight.
The Lightning made Toronto look like an AHL team, and it wasn't nearly Tampa Bay's best effort.
Dan Ellis stopped all 28 shots he faced for the shutout. He made key saves when the Lightning needed them to make sure the Leafs didn't sustain a comeback surge. Very good effort.
11:10 TB Stamkos (12), St Louis (9), Lecavalier (6)(PP)
11:39 TB Thompson (1), Lundin (3), Tyrell (1)
19:13 TB Moore (5), Jones (4), Malone (7)
05:46 TB Stamkos (13), Hall (3),Ohlund (1)
Dan Ellis, Steven Stamkos, and Dominic Moore were the game's three stars. The Lightning got away with sleepwalking through the second period because they're just a superior team talent-wise relative to Toronto and because Ellis played well tonight. I suspect Boucher will not let the Lightning get to happy about this win, because they didn't play as well as the scoreboard indicates. Still, it's a good way to snap a three game skid and, for the moment, climb back withing two points of the Caps in the division. To me that's the key. The Lightning need to maintain contact with Washington in the standings and hope they can win the balance of the head-to-head matches with Washington. If they do that, they can be a one or two seed in the East at season's end. And, what the Lightning should know from the 2003-2004 campaign is that being a top seed can really help you by giving you two easier rounds to get settled into the playoffs before the bombs start dropping in the conference finals.
Stupid Canadian media moment of the night: Sportsnet Canada's studio hosts claiming that the Lightning simply had to trade Steven Stamkos to Boston for draft picks. They must've smoked their body weight in dope before going on camera. Don't do drugs, kids, or you might end up as a studio host in Toronto being forced to watch 82 games of a horrible hockey team.
Mattias Ritola had 1 hit in 9:56. As I've said before, he's an NHLer from the blueline in.
Dana Tyrell had an assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 14:11. Another high intensity night for Dana. I liked it. He was a thorn in Toronto's side.