Ritola, Mattias

NHL Game Night: 3/22/11 Islanders at Lightning

Rock bottom (?)

NYI-5
TB-2

Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss, including a softie to Frans Nielsen that would've made Dieter Kochan himself blush.

First Period
01:01 TB Thompson (9), Purcell (31), Lecavalier (23)
10:22 NYI Bailey (11), Jurcina (12)(PP)

Second Period
05:16 NYI Okposo (5), Jurcina (13), Grabner (17)
13:39 NYI Martin (5), Hillen (16), Konopka (7)

Third Period
08:08 NYI Nielsen (11), unassisted(SH)
10:31 TB Moore (14), Bergenheim (15), Thompson (14)(PP)
19:14 NYI Grabner (31), unassisted(SH)(EN)

Nate Thompson was the game's second star.

This feels like last season, and that's not a good thing. The Lightning could not buy a win at this time late last season and fell like a rock out of the playoff hunt. With 9 games left to go, the Lightning have an 11 point lead on 9th place, but even that doesn't feel safe with 3 games against the Canes on the schedule. The division is gone. An opportunity to hang a banner has been squandered. Right now, the Lightning just need a win, any win, to try to stabilize their sagging fortunes, and it feels like the team won't be able to beat anyone until Steve Downie or Ryan Malone return to the lineup. The Lightning look stale and lost, and it feels like only a shakeup in the lineup will work. Nobody can find the back of the net. Stupid decisions keep getting made defensively. And, now, you even have the likes of Sean Bergenheim making undisciplined plays and Roloson giving up Dairy Queen Blizzards. It's a near total collapse, and I don't care if the Lightning outshot the Islanders 38-28 if you keep giving up shorthanded 2-on-0's, the number of shots matters little.

Blair Jones had 3 shots and 2 blocked shots in 10:42.

Mattias Ritola will have to wait to graduate from prospect status next season.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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.

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