Sustr, Andrej

NHL Game Night: 12-12-13 Red Wings at Lightning

Lightning get back on the right side of the shootout.

DET-1
TB-2 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots and denied all 6 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the SO victory. He made 2-3 amazing lateral saves over the course of the game to keep the Lightning in position to take away the 2 points, which erased memories of the lone goal he allowed which was a little soft mismanagement of a backhand rebound. On a tangent, I found Detroit's strategy of shooting only and not trying to deke Bishop in the shootout bizarre, and he ate their lunch because of it.

First Period
15:04 DET Quincey (1), (Nyquist, Franzen)

Second Period
19:16 TB Kucherov (3), (Brown)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
DET-NONE
TB- St. Louis

Bishop and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

This was a very evenly played game, and the kind of game the Lightning is going to have to continue to win if they're going to stay on track for the postseason. With the exception of the first 10 minutes of the Third Period, I thought they had a slight advantage territorially, but Detroit probably had slightly better chances. Where the Lightning can help themselves are in some obvious areas: 1.) Be better on the PP, 2.) Be better on odd man rushes. I see too many PP's where it takes 3/4 of the PP just to try to get a decent set up. I see too many 3-on-2's where the Lightning settle for a bad, unscreened shot from the side instead of moving the puck to the middle or getting something laterally. I see too many 2-on-1's where passes are broken up and the Lightning get no shots on goal. I see too many breakaways where the Lightning miss the net or fail to put the opposing goaltender in a challenging position to make a save. They wasted several opportunities like this tonight, and if they can start improving in these areas I think they'll find the games will go a lot easier for them. When you take advantage of opportunities like those, you don't have to be as perfect to win games.

Tampa Bay starts the 4th 10 game segment of the season with 2 points. Just 10 more to go in this segment.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 1 shot, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 23:49. Stud. He does not care what your resume says. He does not care how many rings, trophies, or trophy wives with rings that you have. He will hit you, and he will hit you to hurt. Tonight's victim was Pavel Datsyuk, who by the Third Period looked very tired of Radko being on his back like a cheap, scratchy bearded t-shirt. He is blowing all expectations out of the water proving he can play against the other team's top line and excel defensively.

Mark Barberio had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 7:13. He had a better game than against Washington, but that's an awful low bar to clear. A flea couldn't limbo under that bar.

Tyler Johnson had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 23:33 and was 46% on draws. His line was not nearly as dangerous as in the previous two contests.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:50. I thought his line with Filppula and Purcell was the most dangerous, and Filppula and Killorn in particular were very hard on the puck and created quite a few chances. If he can get one, I think the floodgates open for Killorn. He's back to playing his game.

Ondrej Palat had 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 22:26. He had one really awful turnover in his own end in the First Period that he got away with, but started to atone after that pick pocketing a Wing to get a partial break that resulted in a penalty and setting up a couple of chances with cross ice passes through traffic that took a lot of vision and touch. He's getting the bigger minutes now for a reason. He's earned them.

J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 12:41. Feed Kucherov in his spot, get points.

Matt Taormina had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:42. I think Lightning fans give him a pass because he's fighting above his weight class, but he's almost as bad in his own end as Barberio is. He had 5 giveaways tonight. The team only had 11 overall. On the good side, he did land a really nice hit tonight and he looks decent using his big shot on the PP. But, man, he's pretty scary in his own third.

Kucherov had the big goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 14:47. He has a spot. High slot. Quick release. All 3 goals have come from that spot. I think he might even be 3/3 on shots from that spot (or pretty close). As anemic as the PP has been, were I Cooper, I would be scheming ways to get Kucherov looks on the PP from that spot.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 15:09. He didn't stick out tonight, which is good for a rookie defenseman playing against Detroit.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-10-13 Lightning at Capitals

Capitals steal a point from the Lightning.

TB-5
WSH-6 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots and 3 of 5 shooters to convert in the Shootout for the SO Loss. He wasn't as on top of his game as usual, but the only goal I might be able to fault him for was Ovechkin's tying goal with the empty net, which squirted underneath his armpit.

First Period
2:26 TB St Louis (13), (Salo, Johnson)(PP)
10:49 TB Kucherov (2), (Purcell, Carle)(PP)
11:07 TB Thompson (3), (Brown, Crombeen)
14:15 WSH Ovechkin (23), (Backstrom)

Second Period
6:24 WSH Backstrom (7), (Grabovski, Brouwer)(PP)
12:41 TB Johnson (7), (Palat, St Louis)
16:38 WSH Ovechkin (24), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
18:48 WSH Ovechkin (25), (Green, Backstrom)(PP)

Third Period
8:36 TB Palat (5), (Johnson, St Louis)
19:27 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Carlson, Backstrom)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Kucherov, Purcell
WSH- Fehr, Grabovski, Brouwer

Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.

The Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of in this game. They dominated, and I mean DOMINATED play at even strength. They outshot Washington 42-31 and if it weren't for Washington being spotted two goals on a boarding major, I suspect the Lightning would have won this game in regulation going away. That's quite the achievement going against a high-powered team like Washington with their top defenseman, Victor Hedman, out of the lineup. I'll take that effort, minus the boarding major, 9 nights out of 10 and win on most of those nights.

The Lightning close the third 10-game segment of the season with 9 points, 3 shy of the minimum 12 you want every 10-game segment. That's bad. However, because the team had gotten a surplus of 4 points in the first 2 segments of the campaign, they remain on track for the season. However, they cannot afford to keep falling behind schedule in these 10-game segments and this fourth segment coming up is going to be critical for the Lightning as they attempt to stay in position for a postseason run.

Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 shots, 10 hits, and 3 blocked shots in a huge 28:38 of ice time. That's not a typo (neither the minutes nor the hits). The young man's a stud.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot in 7:18. Only Panik had less ice time (for reasons that will be obvious later), and that is very reflective of how he played. If you're ever looking to make the case on why plus-minus is a deceptive stat, Mark Barberio might be Case 1. Yes, he's got a good plus-minus so far this season and even got a plus rating in this game. No, he's not good defensively at all. He had an ill-advised step up in the neutral zone in the Second Period that led to a quick 3-on-1, a really long foray for Washington in the offensive zone, and eventually a penalty on the Lightning that Backstrom scored on to cut the Lightning's lead to 3-2. In the Third Period, Barberio was defending a defenseman, Karl Alzner, on the rush and Alzner nearly beat Barberio around the corner. Barberio made a stay-at-home defenseman look like Bill Guerin in his prime. So, you have bad decision making and a guy who is physically weak. That's a recipe for disaster the Lightning coaching staff decided not to bake with tonight.

Tyler Johnson had 1 goal, 3 points, and was +2 with 3 shots in 20:50. He was also 42% on draws. He was certainly on the right line tonight, supporting St. Louis and Palat as they ran wild on the Caps. He wasn't the straw that stirs the drink, but he's a nice compliment to those two.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 22:20. The penalty he took was a complete fabrication by the refs and it's fortunate that didn't cost the Lightning. Beyond that, I thought Killorn had one of his better games in a while. He was strong as an ox on the puck and getting shots in bunches, playing his game. This is what you expect from Alex Killorn.

Ondrej Palat had 1 goal, 2 points, and was +2 with 6 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:25. In my mind he was the Lightning's best player tonight. He was so dangerous on the rush and he already is showing incredible chemistry with Martin St. Louis. Those two look like they have magic together and Palat nearly won the game twice in Overtime hitting the post from the RW circle on one play and toe dragging into the slot for another opportunity he was denied on. He was outstanding, and it speaks to the quality of Palat's game that of all the talented rookies this team has he is the one that is standing out the most right now.

J.T. Brown had an assist, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 11:02. He played sparing minutes with the fourth line but made the most of them, in my mind. He gave Nate Thompson an easy goal on a 2-on-1 by freezing the goaltender with a fake shot before dishing and he helped that line put together a stabilizing forechecking shift when the team was clinging to a 1 goal lead at 3-2 in the Second Period.

Matt Taormina had 2 hits in 11:33. A lot of his time came on the second PP unit as the Lightning tried to hide him a bit from Washington's skillful forwards.

Nikita Kucherov had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:07. He has a spot. High slot. Give him the puck there for a quick release slapper and he's looking as money as Steven Stamkos from the left wing circle. As breathtaking as that goal was, his Pavel Datsyuk impression in the Shootout is the one you're going to see on highlight reels. The young man has ridiculous hands.

Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 11:36. He stood up ok with his reach on the one really dangerous rush I recall him facing, but it's clear he wasn't comfortable with Washington's pace so the Lightning coaches appeared to protect him just like Barberio and Taormina.

Richard Panik had 5 penalty minutes with 1 shot and 1 hit in 5:29. His major for boarding Alzner was obviously the turning point of the game. The Lightning held a 4-2 lead on Washington at the time he took the penalty and appeared to be cruising toward a victory. Washington emerged from that major penalty with a 4-4 tie, and that allowed Washington to avoid getting run out of their own building, in my opinion. The Lightning have Tyrell on emergency recall from Syracuse, so I don't know if it's feasible to send Panik down right now, but something's got to give. He's just not contributing anything right now, and he owes the team a point after tonight's debacle. I feel bad for the young man, but the team can't keep investing time in him and keep getting nothing in return. Ultimately, Steve Yzerman and Jon Cooper aren't running a charity. This is a results oriented business and 30 games into the season Panik simply hasn't been getting results.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-7-13 Jets at Lightning

Lightning keep letting shaky goaltenders off the hook.

WPG-2
TB-1 (OT)

Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. He played great and really deserved better than he got from the team in front of him. Did he have one lucky save on a point blank rebound chance by Jokinen that was off one of his own rebounds? Sure. But he gave the Lightning every opportunity to win this game.

First Period
5:25 WPG Wheeler (7), (Trouba, Clitsome)

Second Period
19:58 TB Thompson (2), (Gudas, St Louis)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
1:04 WPG Scheifele (3), (Wheeler)

Lindback and Radko Gudas were the game's second and third stars.

Someone needs to have a very serious discussion with this team about letting backup/shaky goaltenders off the hook. Al Montoya looked like hot trash in net tonight. He was giving up rebounds. He was barely squeezing off chances that nearly went though him. He did not look confident or poised between the pipes. 5 shots in the First Period. 12 in the Second Period, but mostly from the perimeter. Not much zone time. Nothing that really created the conditions to get some greasy goals. It's always important to do that, mind you, but when you play a goaltender like Montoya I have no idea why the team isn't on it like a cat on catnip. They sleepwalked through the first 40 minutes and ended up losing in OT of a game they could've easily won in regulation if they hadn't completely let Montoya off the hook. They did the same thing in Columbus sleepwalking through so much of that game, and I just don't get it.

Gudas had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 21:38. He was a stud tonight and he was all over Andrew Ladd like a bad holiday sweater throughout the game.

Mark Barberio was -2 in 12:59. A lot of people ask me why I am hard on Barberio. He's lived a charmed life so far this year if you look at his overall plus/minus so people don't think he's a bad defensive liability. Please refer to the OT winner the next time you feel the need to ask me why I am hard on Mark Barberio. Scheifele manhandled Barberio on what should have been a very easy tie-up for an NHL defenseman to make. That's why he terrifies me in his own third of the rink. Even small forwards can rag doll him.

Tyler Johnson was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits and he was 39% on draws in 19:05.

Alex Killorn had 3 shots and 3 hits in 16:31. He almost did his Chris Drury impression again working himself into a breakaway in Overtime only to ring his shot off the goalpost after a nice move. One note on that play, looking back at the replay: I am absolutely positive Al Montoya threw his stick after getting faked out of his shorts by Killorn on the play. That probably should've been called a PS for Killorn (mind you, Killorn faked him out so bad he probably should've finished off the goal). Instead, the Jets came down the other way and the waste receptacle conflagration occurred on Scheifele's winning goal.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot. As he was in the AHL, I thought he was the straw that stirred the drink tonight on his line as a lot of chances were running through Palat's play.

J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:27.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 10:54. He had one really cringe-worthy shift in the Third Period where he looked physically overmatched a la Barberio.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 13:50. He's mesmerizing with the puck and I think Lightning players need to learn to have their sticks on the ice ready to shoot whenever Kucherov's in the offensive third.

Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 14:42. He had a glorious chance jumping up into the high slot on one play in the First Period and made another in the opening frame where he made a beautiful cross ice feed to Thompson for a near tip-in goal. He was also pretty responsible defensively, as usual. If you're going to get shifts like Taormina and Barberio had tonight, I'd rather Cooper just dress 6 d-men and play Sustr more, to be blunt.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-3-13 Lightning at Blue Jackets

Lightning skate the final 40 minutes like they were in a turkey-induced coma.

TB-0
CBJ-1

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the loss. He deserved better. He was hung out to dry 1-on-1 with an uncovered shooter on the only goal he allowed.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:30 CBJ Foligno (7), (Johansen)

Third Period
NO SCORING

There haven't been many times this season where the Lightning have been outworked. Tonight, they got absolutely outworked by an arguably less talented team. That effort simply won't do. The power play was bad. The Blue Jackets double teamed the Lightning all over the ice to win puck battles. Their puck support was excellent, the Lightning's was terrible. They went to the net front. The Lightning acted like they were allergic to it. There's nothing good you can say about the night, other than thanking Ben Bishop for giving the team a chance. The Lightning will not reach 12 points in this 3rd 10 game segment of the season. They have to readjust their sights to at least salvage 8 points to leverage some of the extra points they got in the first 2 segments of the year to try to stay on track. It's bad. This was a bad, bad loss.

Mark Barberio had 2 hits in 17:16. I didn't notice any huge mistakes, but he was oddly invisible at the offensive end of the ice, too.

Tyler Johnson had 2 shots, 1 hit, and was 53% on draws in 17:19. He was the Lightning's best center tonight. That's a low bar to clear, though. You could trip on it.

Alex Killorn had 1 shot and 1 hit and was 50% on draws in 16:40. I'm beginning to think his game is too north-south to work at the center position. Seems like a pro winger.

Ondrej Palat had 2 blocked shots in 17:26. He came close a couple of times to working the Lightning into the scoring chance they needed, either with his forechecking or his stick handling. Just couldn't get anything to stick.

J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:27. He had a breakaway chance that he was stopped on that led to Bobrovsky leaving the game and he was one of the few Lightning forwards consistently going to the net.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:18. Had a slick little attempt on net in the First Period and helped spring Brown for his breakaway chance. I don't know why, with the team down 1 goal in each of the past 2 games, Cooper hasn't spotted him more with quality line mates. Cooper moved Tyrell onto the kid line in lieu of Panik, and I just face palmed. Tyrell wasn't going to finish off a chance from Johnson or Palat. Let's just be honest with ourselves about that. I have no idea why you don't spot a finisher like Kucherov on that line instead.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:15. He was one third of the rolling blunder that led to the game's only goal. At least he can say it wasn't a rookie mistake, because two veterans (including Filppula, who was exceptionally brutal tonight) chose to partake in creating that king-sized dumpster fire of a play.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Day: 11-29-13 Penguins at Lightning

Bounces don't go the Lightning's way.

PIT-3
TB-0

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He played well. It's hard to be upset considering the first goal he allowed was off a great cross ice feed from Crosby and the second was a centering feed that bounced off Hedman and in. Most nights that effort gets Bishop in the winner's circle.

First Period
6:53 PIT Kunitz (12), (Crosby, Letang)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
8:27 PIT Sutter (5), (Crosby, Jokinen)(PP)
18:17 PIT Kunitz (13), (Malkin, Crosby)(EN)

J.T. Brown was the game's second star.

There's nothing to be ashamed of in tonight's effort. They held their own against an elite caliber team and just didn't get the bounce or two they needed. I'll take that effort 9 games out of 10 and take my chances that the bounces start to go my way. The unfortunate thing is that the loss is going to make it really difficult for the Lightning to get 12 points out of this 10 game segment of the season, now needing 7 of 8 possible points in the next 4 games. That's the problem with losing streaks like on the Lightning's West Coast swing. They really cut your margin of error down dramatically.

Mark Barberio had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:59. His delay of game penalty in the Third Period led to Pittsburgh's insurance goal and, as usual, he just isn't strong along the wall in his own end. He's got to improve there. Period, point blank.

Tyler Johnson was -2 with 1 shot and he was 62% on draws in 18:58. That stat line doesn't tell the tale. The kid line matched up head to head against the Crosby line all game long and they held their own. Crosby set up Pittsburgh's first goal, but they got nothing else until the empty netter at the end, and the balance of play between the two lines was surprisingly even. That's incredibly impressive for three rookies.

Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots and was 29% on draws in 15:01. QUIT TAKING OFFENSIVE ZONE PENALTIES! That is all.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:52. I'll echo my comments about TJ with regard to Palat and add that both Palat and Johnson were also outstanding on the PK.

Brown had 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:10. He worked himself into quite a few good chances and set up 1-2 others for his teammates. He's a little snakebit right now, but that will pass with time.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots in 14:31. He had a partial breakaway and a couple of other quality scoring chances. Sooner or later, he's going to put up a multi-goal game, I'm fairly certain. He's very dangerous, and I would actually like to see him spotted in Panik's place on the kid line just to see if a little more polished finisher on that line can yield some dividends.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 1 shot and 3 blocked shots in 18:05. He was on the ice for Pittsburgh's first goal, but that was a superstar play off the rush by Crosby. Beyond that, he also held his own. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:27. He had maybe the chance of the game on his stick at the end of the Second Period all along in front of Fleury and target visioned it right into Fleury's chest. Ploof. I don't know how the Lightning can breath confidence into him at this point, but I do know that kid line is generating chances for Panik and they're not going in because he's the most snake bitten at all. Given its been feast or famine in the goal department since Stamkos' injury, I'm very serious that Cooper should consider spotting a finisher like Kucherov on that line if these late game situations come up where the Lightning are scrambling to find a goal.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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