Stephens, Mitchell

NHL Game Night: 12-14-19 Capitals at Lightning

Disappointing Third Period collapse dooms segment opener.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss.

First Period
6:42 WSH Backtrom (6), (unassisted)

Second Period
5:45 TB Point (12), (Killorn, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
1:58 WSH Eller (7), (Panik, Orlov)
2:43 WSH Hathaway (5), (Leipsic, Gudas)
11:16 TB Rutta (1), (Killorn, Gourde)
12:19 WSH Oshie (14), (Vrana, Kuznetsov)
19:21 WSH Wilson (12), (Oshie, Backstrom)(EN)

Alex Killorn was the game's third star.

This was not a game where Washington really dominated the Lightning. This was a game of self-inflicted wounds that took their cumulative toll in the final score. Jan Rutta booting a puck into his own slot for the opening goal. Kevin Shattenkirk making a worthless turnover on a breakout pass that led to a semi-soft goal on a counter. Very basic puck management issues that ultimately wiped out at least 40 minutes of quality effort.

And now we all hope Kucherov just has a bruised foot from a blocked shot.

Carter Verhaeghe was -1 in 11:27. Had a goal disallowed for goaltender interference.

Mitchell Stephens was -2 in 9:19 and 50% on 10 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-12-19 Bruins at Lightning

Lightning rise to the occasion for massive playoff-style win.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. He was magnificent tonight, particularly in the first half of the Second Period when the Bruins looked like they might pull away. Vasiy held the team within a goal and allowed them to eventually build the lead and take the W.

First Period
4:26 BOS Bergeron (10), (Marchand, McAvoy)

Second Period
12:35 TB Stamkos (12), (Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
4:07 TB Point (11), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
15:13 TB Stamkos (13), (unassisted)
16:45 BOS Moore (1), (Bjork)

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Vasilevskiy were the game's three stars.

It's somewhat cliche to say, but that game was played with playoff speed and intensity. It's been a subpar season to date for the Lightning, but fans looking for hope to say this campaign is heading to greener pastures can look at tonight as a potential milestone. That was a physical game where the Lightning did a number of the gritty things right to manufacture the win: good possession overall, win faceoffs to generate some extra offense, capitalize on power plays, take the body, kill some key penalties, and get great goaltending. It all came together for the good guys tonight.

The Lightning close the third 10-game segment of the season at 35 points, one point in arrears of comfortable minimum playoff pace. That's in no way, shape, or form a good thing, but it's way better than where the team was two games ago facing the potential of a much larger deficit in the standings. As it is, they're one point out of the top three in Atlantic with two games in hand on Montreal and three in hand on Buffalo and Boston. Games in hand are irrelevant unless you cash them in, but the Lightning have an opportunity to really reshape their season and put themselves in commanding shape for the rest of the year if they'll use these last two games, which they played with the dire urgency of a team well aware the season was on the brink, as the template for a big segment four.

Carter Verheaghe played 8:22.

Mitchell Stephens had 3 shots and 1 hit in 7:31 and was 80% on 5 draws. He had a really good game tonight against a high quality, veteran team. I'm teetering closer and closer to asking mom and dad if we can keep him if us fans promise to walk and feed the young pup.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-10-19 Lightning at Panthers

Desperate Lightning staunch the bleeding.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the win. That's two straight quality starts for Vasilevskiy, who hopefully is about to go on a hot streak.

First Period
6:42 TB Stamkos (11), (Killorn)

Second Period
4:51 TB Killorn (9), (Cirelli, Cernak)

Third Period
18:00 FLA Dadonov (12), (Huberdeau, Hoffman)

Vasilevskiy and Alex Killorn were the game's first and third stars. I thought Cirelli was the best player on the rink, personally.

Bobrovsky held this game unnecessarily close, but the Lightning pretty much dominated the final two periods of play en route to a sizable 48-28 shot advantage. It was a dominant possession display with lots of scoring chances that was the product of an inspired/desperate effort by a Lightning team that knows it can't fall further behind the eight ball. They have a really tough ask to play Boston to close out this 10-game segment of the year. A loss tonight would've made the chance of being a full five points behind the curve at the 30-game mark a real possibility. Now you hope the Lightning can manufacture some kind of result against the Bruins and hold the damage to a much more manageable 1-2 point pacing deficit.

Carter Verhaeghe was -1 with 3 shots and 3 hits in 9:30.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 5:57 and he was 83% on 6 draws. It was a much less splashy effort than his debut game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-9-19 Islanders at Lightning

Tampa Bay's season is now officially in some trouble.

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Curtis McElhinney allowed 5 goals on 24 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
6:44 NYI Johnston (2), (Pulock)
8:37 NYI Bailey (8), (Cizikas, Boychuk)(SH)
15:35 TB Stamkos (10), (Shattenkirk, Cirelli)

Third Period
7:31 NYI Nelson (10), (unassisted)
14:41 NYI Nelson (11), (Lee, Eberle)
16:05 NYI Lee (8), (Bailey, Barzal)(PP)

The score isn't indicative of how closely played this one was. This felt a lot like a playoff game where, "first goal wins," and when the Isles got theirs after Conacher failed to convert on a breakaway it seemed like it was going to be incredibly difficult to get a W tonight.

The standings implications are scary. The Lightning will finish this playoff segment at least one point behind playoff pace, but they could be as much as five points behind the curve if they fail to get maximum points in these next two games. If they fall that far back, chances are they'll hit the halfway mark of the season still chasing a playoff pace, and that's a really bad place to be.

Carter Verhaeghe was -2 with 1 shot in 9:56.

Mitchell Stephens was -2 with 2 hits in 8:28 and he was also 80% on 5 draws. I thought he played really well. Probably the best of the debutante games this season. Better than Verhaeghe and Volkov's premieres, IMO. He was good on the forecheck and not shy at all about going to the tough areas in front of the net.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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