Ritola, Mattias

NHL Game Night: 3/19/11 Lightning at Senators

Choke.

TB-2
OTT-3 (OT)

Dwayne Roloson allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the overtime loss.

First Period
06:32 TB Lecavalier (19), Thompson (13)

Second Period
07:42 TB Tyrell (6), Bergenheim (14)

Third Period
12:27 OTT Shannon (9), Condra (3), Karlsson (30)(SH)
16:05 OTT Foligno (12), Smith (4), Neil (10)

Overtime
03:28 OTT Spezza (16), Karlsson (31)

Roloson was the game's third star.

The Lightning took their foot off the gas after gaining a 2 goal lead and their now customary power play implosion to allow a shortie led to a Senators team that had half of Binghamton's roster on it to come back and steal a point in the standings the Lightning desperately needed. Now the Lightning are 5 points back of the Caps with 1 game in hand in the Division, which even if the Lightning cash in their game in hand means the spread is now, essentially, 2 games because Washington has the tiebreaker pretty much sewn up (barring absolute collapse). It's a sickening feeling. The Lightning have no one to blame but themselves. The schedule set up nicely. They had Ottawa under control tonight. If there's not a Division Championship banner going to the rafters next Fall, they've got nobody to point the finger at. This is the very definition of a choke, and now, with 10 games left in the regular season, the sights may need to be lowered to trying to catch Pittsburgh to at least get home ice in the opening round.

We lost 2 games to Curtis flipping McElhinney. Let that sink in, Lightning fans.

Vincent Lecavalier is now 1 goal shy of the 20 goal plateau, which would be his 11th straight 20 goal season. We'll have more on that when/if he gets to 20, but let's just say Lecavalier's consistency in hitting 20 goals is the stuff of Hall of Famers and legends.

Mattias Ritola had 1 hit in 8:22. In case you're wondering, Ritola has to play in each of the remaining 10 games this year to graduate as a prospect from BoltProspects' prospect list. One scratch and he'll have to wait until next season, where he'll likely move over to the 82 career NHL games graduation path, which is more of a graduate level degree from the School of Hard Knocks (see: Downie, Steve).

Blair Jones had 4 shots in 9:02 and probably should have had a goal in the opening period. It's a shame, in retrospect, he couldn't finish.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3/17/11 Lightning at Canadiens

I'm still recovering from the mild heart attack I just had when Roloson was down after taking a slapshot off the collar bone.

TB-2
MTL-3 (SO)

Dwayne Roloson allowed 2 goals on 29 shots before allowing 2 of 4 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. And, every Lightning fan saw the season flash before their eyes when Scott Gomez pinged a slapshot off his collarbone and he went down like a ton of bricks. I'm very glad Roloson finished out the game, and I hope a bruise is the only takeaway from that play.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
00:35 TB Purcell (17), St Louis (58), Gagne (16)(PP)
05:40 MTL Kostitsyn (18), Desharnais (10), White (2)

Third Period
03:58 MTL Gionta (25), unassisted(SH)
09:29 TB Gagne (12), St Louis (59), Clark (20)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Gagne
MTL- Dawes, Cammalleri

Wow, nice homerism with three Montreal players being named stars in a game where the Lightning dominated the play to the tune of a 37-29 shot advantage. Montreal was very lucky to get to the shootout with the amount of chances that the Lightning were generating. It was a much stronger performance relative to the last outing against the Habs, which is understandable given how many regulars were hurt for Montreal. I thought Price stole the 2 points, frankly, and did so often by the skin of his teeth.

There are 11 games left in the regular season. Tampa Bay is 4 points back of Washington with 1 game in hand and a trailing by 2 in the ROW column tiebreaker. The Lightning now have 5 straight games against teams that would miss the playoffs if the season ended today. This is where the club has to make its move, and it can put division rival Carolina out of its misery in the process.

Mattias Ritola had 1 blocked shot in 13:14.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3/14/11 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Ahhhh, Toronto: the Lightning's cure-all.

TB-6
TOR-2

Dwayne Roloson allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the win.

First Period
09:53 TB Thompson (8), Purcell (29), Clark (17)

Second Period
05:12 TOR Phaneuf (5), Brent (10), Lupul (13)
09:25 TB Ritola (3), Hall (9), Thompson (12)
12:34 TB Ritola (4), Purcell (30), Clark (18)
14:37 TOR Kulemin (26), unassisted
18:53 TB Lecavalier (18), Gagne (15), Purcell (31)

Third Period
08:47 TB Moore (13), St Louis (56), Stamkos (42)
14:32 TB Lundin (1), Stamkos (43), St Louis (57)

Mattias Ritola, Teddy Purcell, and Nate Thompson were the game's three stars. Tampa Bay climbs back to within 3 points of streaking Washington in the division.

Ritola had 2 goals and was +2 with 6 shots and 2 hits in 10:22. He's elevated his physical play since coming up from Norfolk considerably, and it's upped his overall play.

Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:41. He was also 7/13 on faceoffs.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3/12/11 Lightning at Panthers

What a failure of a weekend.

TB-3
FLA-4 (OT)

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss. One really bad softie and his effort on the overtime winner probably bears some scrutiny too. I'm looking forward to next season when Cedrick Desjardins will probably be the backup.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
04:33 FLA Booth (21), Weaver (10), Ellerby (9)
14:10 TB Stamkos (43), St Louis (54), Gagne (13)(PP)

Third Period
02:22 FLA Carter (2), Kulikov (17)
05:18 FLA Bergfors (12), Garrison (11), Weiss (27)
12:35 TB Lecavalier (17), St Louis (55), Gagne (14)(PP)
17:55 TB Gagne (11), Lecavalier (22), Stamkos (41)(PP)

Overtime
04:44 FLA Garrison (4), Santorelli (18)

Simon Gagne and Steven Stamkos were the game's second and third stars. Vincent Lecavalier moved to within 3 goals of the 20 goal mark. The good news is that all of the Lightning's top forwards found the sheet tonight. The bad news is the team still looked terrible and lost to an inferior opponent. The division is slipping away, which would mean a tough matchup with the likes of Washington, Boston, or Pittsburgh in the first round. That's not a recipe for a deep run for this team.

Mattias Ritola was -1 with 2 hits in 7:01.

Blair Jones had 1 hit in 7:46. Of note, he was also 7/8 on faceoffs.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3/7/11 Capitals at Lightning

It hurts on so many levels.

WSH-2
TB-1 (SO)

Dwayne Roloson stopped 29 of 30 shots before allowing 1 of 2 shooters to convert for the shootout loss.

First Period
12:30 TB Bergenheim (13), St Louis (52), Stamkos (38)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
14:28 WSH Semin (24), Wideman (25), Ovechkin (44)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
WSH- Ovechkin
TB- NONE

Roloson was the game's third star.

The Lightning had this game won twice, only to have it snatched away from them. The first was on what was really a lucky stick save by Brayden Holtby reaching back on a Simon Gagne bid at an open net. The second was a disallowed goal by Vincent Lecavalier that was absolute baloney. I've seen teams get away with a lot worse than the contact Martin St. Louis made with his skate after being tripped through the crease. So, it would be easy to feel like the Lightning were robbed, but the refs didn't make the Lightning go out with a whimper in overtime and the shootout. It was a weak effort to close a game where the team, in general, really rose to the occasion. The Devils, Bruins, and this game were really unfortunate. This team could very easily have taken all 6 possible points in those games, rather than just 1.

The Lightning are 2 points back of Washington in the division now with 1 game in hand. This tough bit of schedule ends with the Blackhawks, who are white hot, before the opposition gets a little easier (on paper).

Mattias Ritola played 4:58.

Blair Jones played 6:20 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot.

The young guys simply weren't going to play much in a game of this magnitude.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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