Lightning win a shootout against some Texans.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the victory. The stat line isn't pretty, but he made several key saves in the Third Period to preserve the victory for the Lightning. Were it not for Fiddler's goal with under 3 seconds left, which might've been kicked in, it'd look a lot better.
12:59 TB Stralman (6), (Palat)(PP)
14:24 DAL Seguin (30), (Spezza, Ja. Benn)(PP)
15:52 TB Kucherov (25), (Palat, Coburn)
3:52 DAL Seguin (31), (Klingberg)
11:03 DAL Fiddler (9), (Goligoski, Sceviour)
3:40 TB Killorn (14), (Callahan, Hedman)
5:31 TB Hedman (9), (Johnson, Palat)
19:36 TB Boyle (14), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:57 DAL Fiddler (10), (Jo. Benn, Sceviour)
That was hardly artful, but effective in the end. The Stars defense ultimately just wasn't going to be able to stop the Lightning unless Enroth stood on his head. He didn't and therefore they didn't. Just that simple, really.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 hits in 12:50. He was very effective in limited ice time, helping to set up a handful of prime chances. He's gone to dirty areas and he showed good vision and decision-making off the rush.
Let there be kittens!
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 28 shots he faced for his first career NHL shutout. He got the emergency start for the Lightning after Bishop got injured earlier in the day and he made a huge difference by standing on his head while the Lightning sleepwalked through the first 5-10 minutes of the game.
16:37 TB Stamkos (36), (Killorn, Sustr)
2:48 TB Callahan (20), (Johnson, Filppula)(PP)
4:24 TB Hedman (8), (Stralman, Palat)(PP)
Vasilevskiy, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden "Rooster" Coburn were the game's three stars.
It's hard to read too much into the night's festivities given the defensive pairs were shuffled with the addition of Coburn and, more importantly, because Buffalo is sporting a lineup right now that's probably just barely an even match for the Syracuse Crunch.
Still, it's a big 2 points to close within 3 of Montreal. That Panthers loss still stings, though.
No prospect skaters in the lineup tonight. Really.
Tough return for Vasiy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
SYR Gourde, (19) (Mormina, Namestnikov), 11:34
RCH Leduc, (6) (Austin, D'Amigo), 14:02 (PP)
RCH Irwin, (12) (Schaller, Austin), 18:06
RCH Dalpe, (16) (Carrier), 7:50
RCH Irwin, (13) (D'Amigo, Schaller), 13:13
SYR Mormina, (3) (Marchessault, Angelidis), 14:52
SYR Namestnikov, (13) (Marchessault, Dotchin), 17:15
Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's third star. He's now at a solid 32 points in 32 games.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Defense falls apart at the end of the road.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 18 shots. The stat line looks terrible but there was really only one goal I felt was one that he'd definitely want back. With that said, part of being an elite goaltender is keeping your team in contact and at least giving them a chance by making 1-2 key stops. He didn't do that tonight by allowing the team to fall behind by 3 in the Third Period, which is almost always a death sentence.
10:53 TB Palat (15), (Johnson)
16:21 COL MacKinnon (10), (Landeskog)
3:10 COL MacKinnon (11), (O'Reilly, Barrie)
3:39 COL Duchene (16), (unassisted)
5:51 TB Johnson (23), (Kucherov, Killorn)
12:50 COL MacKinnon (12), (O'Reilly)
7:20 COL Tanguay (16), (Everberg)
11:43 TB Connolly (12), (Filppula, Paquette)
18:58 TB Kucherov (23), (Johnson, Hedman)
In the universe I come from, if you score 4 goals and hold your opponent to 18 shots, you should win. The only time that doesn't happen is when you have self-inflicted wounds like really terrible turnovers against a skilled team. And, that's what happened tonight. This youthful defense the Lightning have patched together with Carle and Gudas out has been such a mixed bag. They'll play 2-3 decent games and then absolutely wet the bed like they did tonight. Nesterov, Barberio, and Hedman each had plays I think they'd want back, and it really burned the Lightning hard tonight.
Hedman's inclusion on the goat horn list is particularly vexing given what I've said about best players needing to be best players. So is Steven Stamkos checking in at -3 and 31% on draws. Were both guys so awful they should be traded? No, but as I've said those two guys really need to start being the Lightning's top players night in and night out. Stamkos is the engine that makes Callahan go, and the young defense just seems to go as Hedman goes. God bless the Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line, but I don't want them to have to carry the team in the playoffs and I don't want a guy like Stralman or Garrison to have to play over their head. Stamkos and Hedman are trophy-winning caliber talents who need to start playing like it. I'm not saying it to be mean or to run the guys out of town, it's just the expectations have to rise now.
It's too bad. Winning 4 of 5 on this road trip would've been a wildly successful outcome. 3 out of 5 is minimally acceptable, but leaving 2 winnable points on the ice like the team did tonight will ultimately cost them an Atlantic Division banner at the end of the year, barring them finding their next gear.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:29. He and Garrison got split on MacKinnon's first goal and he made the absolutely horrible turnover of Duchene's goal. That turnover gets you demoted on a lot of teams. As it is, it might get him a seat in the pressbox, at least.
Whose idea was it to start a game at 5 pm?
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 9 shots for the loss before giving way to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed 1 goal on 20 shots the rest of the way. Sadly, Vasiy couldn't make that 1 more key stop he needed to give the team a real chance to complete the comeback bid.
1:33 LAK Toffoli (14), (unassisted)
12:30 LAK Williams (14), (Lewis, Muzzin)
19:58 LAK Doughty (5), (Regehr, Kopitar)
0:58 TB Kucherov (19), (unassisted)
1:34 TB Hedman (7), (Callahan)
7:46 LAK Williams (15), (Gaborik, Regehr)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
The Lightning just didn't show up mentally until the game was already 3-0 at the end of the First Period. Chalk it up to the early start tonight, perhaps, but it was unacceptable. They need to be ready to go from the jump tomorrow against the Ducks or they'll have zero chance.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 15:22. He, unfortunately, fell down trying to backtrack on a Filppula turnover on the first goal against, but was otherwise quiet, as usual.
Nikita Nesterov had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:15. He was very active on the first shift of the Second Period, with the resulting pressure ending up in Kucherov's goal.
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Andrei Vasilevskiy shined, allowing 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. The Lightning would've had zero chance of winning tonight without Vasilevskiy.
3:11 TB Stamkos (28), (Callahan, Barberio)
6:42 TB Hedman (6), (Stamkos)
15:21 DAL Klingberg (10), (Seguin, Goligoski)
15:36 DAL Goligoski (2), (Fiddler, Horcoff)
12:27 TB Johnson (18), (Kucherov, Killorn)(PP)
13:41 DAL Daley (13), (Ja. Benn, Demers)
16:23 TB Johnson (19), (Boyle, Palat)
18:43 TB Kucherov (18), (Palat)(EN)
This was, in many ways, role reversal from the Lightning's performance in St. Louis. The Lightning were on their heels most of the night, ultimately getting outshot 36-29, and probably should've been run out of the barn if it weren't for the goaltending they got from Vasiy. Then things got really weird when Jason Garrison got hurt, forcing Brian Boyle to take shifts on defense where he made the play of the game on a clean check on Jamie Benn at center ice that eventually led to his point shot that was deflected in by Johnson for the GWG. Yes, Brian Boyle, from the point, on defense (not in the Conservatory with the Candlestick). Honestly, you can't feel too guilty about it because they deserved so much better against the Blues. So, things evened out on this little mini trip.
Unfortunately, if Garrison's injury is of any real severity, it puts the Lightning in a very tough spot with the California trip looming. Yzerman's basically got a week to bring someone in or he'll have to do something he probably doesn't want to do like raid the already thin cupboard in Syracuse. Paging Slater Koekkoek?
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 13:47. It was a hard luck minus with Daley's shot off the rush hitting Witkowski's leg and deflecting past Vasiy.
Vasiy wins the duel.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before denying 3 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the win. He's becoming a bit of a legend in the shootout.
SYR Richard, (7) (Gourde, Paradis), 4:22
SYR Gourde, (16) (Angelidis), 6:32 (SH)
HER Newbury, (14) (Byers, Gazley), 17:03
HER Cornet, (7) (Galiev, Kundratek), 9:55 (PP)
Yanni Gourde was the game's third star. Can you tell the Hershey media picked the three stars?
With the victory, Syracuse has climbed to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, 1 point up on the Manchester Monarchs. That's mildly amazing for a team that's 28th in the league on the PP. Imagine how good the Crunch would be if they had one.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse takes the division lead heading into the AHL All-Star Break.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. As with last night's game, solid stat line and key saves at key moments.
SYR Blunden, (12) (Koekkoek, Corrente), 1:29
HFD Allen, (6) (Mueller, Vaive), 5:17 (PP)
HFD Hrivik, (5) (Bodie, Kristo), 2:31
SYR Blunden, (13) (Namestnikov), 7:47 (SH)
SYR Angelidis, (14) (Blunden, Mormina), 9:48 (PP)
The win allows Syracuse to move 1 point ahead of Springfield into first place in the Northeast Division, 1 point back of Manchester for the conference lead. Almost as important, it allowed the Crunch to expand their lead over the Wolf Pack to 4 points in the ultra-competitive Northeast race, as the Crunch's division might be the toughest in the league this season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Vasiy and Gourde spook the Phantoms.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. It's a solid stat line, but the real key was making big saves at key junctures of the game, like any really good goaltender does.
SYR Kunyk, (6) (Lynch, Dodero), 7:21
LV Goumas, (2) (Delisle, Comrie), 17:00
LV Straka, (10) (Goumas, Comrie), 17:24
SYR Gourde, (14) , 3:23
SYR Ikonen, (5) (Angelidis, Corrente), 17:45
SYR Gourde, (15) (Richard, Vermin), 4:00
With Springfield falling to Hartford tonight, Syracuse moves back to just 1 point back in the division with 1 game in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Should've saved some goals from last night.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the loss. Quality start, though, nonetheless.
BRI Mouillierat, (13) (Conacher, Quine), 14:30 (PP)
BRI Ness, (6) (McDonald, Conacher), 13:20 (PP)
SYR Smith, (9) (Corrente, Richard), 14:52
Vasilevskiy was the game's third star.
Syracuse ends the weekend 3 points back of Springfield in the division with 1 game in hand on the Falcons.
Box score from TheAHL.com.