Vermin, Joel

NHL Game Night: 3-30-17 Red Wings at Lightning

Even with Kucherov out ill, the Lightning keep their playoff hopes healthy.

DET-3
TB-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory.

First Period
4:22 DET Nielsen (15), (Helm)
18:58 TB Brown (3), (Dumont)

Second Period
2:22 TB Sustr (3), (Palat)
12:46 DET DeKeyser (4) (Tatar, Zetterberg)
16:13 TB Killorn (18), (unassisted)(PP)
18:04 TB Drouin (21), (Hedman, Point)(PP)

Third Period
6:03 TB Gourde (3), (Palat, Sustr)
8:18 DET Green (13), (Nielsen, Larkin)(PP)

Andrej Sustr, Alex Killorn, and J.T. Brown were the game's three stars. If you picked those three as the opening three goal scorers tonight, I salute you on hitting the million to one trifecta.

With Nikita Kucherov out of the lineup sick, the Lightning cobbled an important victory out of duct tape, bailing wire, spit, and guile.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:28.

Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:22.

Gabriel Dumont had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 73% on 11 draws.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 22:44. He was also 25% on 8 draws. Yanni Gourde with 22:44 of ice time in a must-win game down the stretch of the regular season. We live in interesting times.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 10:12.

Joel Vermin had 1 shot in 9:16.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-27-17 Blackhawks at Lightning

Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.

CHI-4
TB-5 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 goals for the win. He was actually pulled toward the end of the opening frame for Petr Budaj, who stopped the 3 shots he faced, but Cooper re-inserted Vasilevskiy and eventually got the payoff in the form of two key breakaway saves including the save of the game denying Kane on a breakaway move that he scores on 99 out of 100 goaltenders on the planet. Not Vasilarceniy tonight, however.

First Period
1:23 CHI Panarin (25), (Kero)
9:29 TB Palat (16), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 CHI Kane (34), (Hjalmarsson, Keith)
13:41 CHI Jurco (1), (Schmaltz)

Second Period
8:47 CHI Panik (21), (VanRiemsdyk, Schmaltz)
11:45 TB Drouin (19), (Killorn, Stralman)
12:47 TB Stralman (4), (McKegg, Palat)
16:24 TB Drouin (20), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)

Yanni Gourde, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

My God. What did we just witness? Every once in a while something happens in sports that you think can't happen, but by shear force of will a player or a team makes it happen. When Richard Panik put the Lightning down 4-1 around the middle of the Second Period of this game, the Lightning season looked completely dead and over. It's not just that the Lightning had fallen behind an opponent by three goals with about half the game to make up the deficit, but it was against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was against a defensive corps we all watched strangle this Lightning team to death in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of years ago. There should have been no way they would surrender a 3 goal lead, and especially so to a Tampa Bay club that looked sloppy and disorganized for most of the first 30 minutes and couldn't get out of its own way.

I give a lot of credit to Jon Cooper and, more importantly, to the character of this team. They could've flat given up right there and I might not have blamed them. Instead, the team resolved to turn the remaining ~35 minutes of hockey in this game into a breathtaking demonstration of the brand of Lightning hockey we've rarely seen this season but know these players are capable. Speed? Yes. Skill? Yes. But, more importantly, a suffocating dedication to puck pursuit and denying the opposition time, space, and passing lanes. The Lightning started to crawl all over the Blackhawks like a troop of extremely pissed off fire ants in all three zones and eventually made the breaks they needed to get 2 points that looked impossible just an hour and a half or so ago. That forecheck tonight, in particular... my goodness. When they forecheck like that there's not a team on earth that can stand up to the pressure.

The Lightning move to just 1 point behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot, and they've got another game against Jack Edwards and The Spoked Satan left on the schedule. The dream of a Lightning playoff berth refuses to die.

Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. He had a hit on Hossa tonight that you rarely see do that much damage against a guy as sturdy on his skates as Hossa is.

Gregg McKegg had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:20. A comeback like this rarely comes without some secondary scoring help from the lower lines, and McKegg supplied the key play around the net that led to Stralman's goal.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 20:40.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:41.

Gourde, the man of the hour, had the OT GWG shooting forehand on a breakaway. He also had 1 shot in his 16:30 of ice time and was 27% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 2 hits in 11:15. Even without gaudy stat lines, I can't underscore enough how important the minutes and work Dumont, Erne, and Vermin put in tonight. They were active, tenacious, and they didn't let up on Chicago as the Lightning comeback continued to sweep over Chicago. You would think a team like Chicago's depth would be able to take advantage of some of these Lightning callups, and it was the other way around tonight. Guys like Erne were looking to take their lunch money.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

TB-2
DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

Overtime
3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

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

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.

TB-6
BOS-3

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)

Third Period
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.

Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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