This is a tough one to take.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss. It's a tough way to lose on a strange goal that will no doubt stick in Bishop's craw for a little while.
13:45 NYI Grabner (12), (Tavares)
04:44 TB Panik (2), (Lecavalier, Carle)
04:00 TB Carle (4), (Stamkos, Pouliot)
13:34 NYI Martin (3), (Lee, Streit)
19:46 NYI MacDonald (3), (Bailey)(EN)
It's the first regulation loss of Jon Cooper's tenure in Tampa Bay. Matt Carle was named the game's third star.
Alex Killorn was -2 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 22:02.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 2 hits in 11:28.
Richard Panik hooked up with Vincent Lecavalier for a beautiful goal and was +1 with 1 shot and 10:08. The good was the quick release he showed on an amazing behind the back feed from Lecavalier. The bad came in the form of some questionable decisions Panik made with the puck in the neutral zone.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:20. Tonight was one of the rare nights Radko looked to me to have heavy legs. I was surprised.
Bishop making Yzerman look like a genius.
Ben Bishop stopped all 45 shots he faced for the shutout after being acquired from Ottawa in exchange for Cory Conacher. That's quite the debut for a goaltender who is the latest to be tasked with trying to close the gaping hole left since Nikolai Khabibulin shuffled off to Chicago many moons ago. I do like the deal Yzerman made. After a red hot first 7 games in the NHL, Conacher had cooled off greatly in the 28 games since and was not having the impact on a shift-to-shift basis some of the other rookies were having. He's not chopped liver, mind you, but he also was probably never going to have higher trade value and Yzerman knew that. Leveraging that asset for a true NHL goaltender is shrewd.
00:28 TB Purcell (8), (Carle)
15:55 TB Pyatt (8), (Killorn, Brewer)
19:17 TB Aulie (2), (Stamkos, St. Louis)
02:24 TB St. Louis (9), (Pouliot, Carle)
07:30 TB Pouliot (7), (Stamkos, St. Louis)
For anyone who thinks Victor Hedman isn't important to this team, look what happened tonight with him out with a lower body injury early. 45 shots against and Bishop really having to bust it to save the Lightning's bacon. Hurry back soon #77. Also, we'll see if Vincent Lecavalier manages to get back into the lineup too after also leaving in his return from the shelf. I did really like Coach Cooper's thought of putting the vet between two potential stars like Connolly and Panik, and I'd love to see them get back to it.
So it's not all roses in a 5-0 win, but good goaltending has a way of making everything look better.
Alex Killorn had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 18:33.
Tyler Johnson had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot and was 40% on draws in 10:42.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 1 hit in 13:28.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:34.
I still hate shootouts.
Mathieu Garon allowed 2 goals on 25 shots and was 1 for 2 in the shootout for the SOL. He got outdueled badly by Markstrom, and Lightning fans have to be cursing the day Lindback got his high ankle sprain.
08:36 FLA Kopecky (13), (Brennan, Fleischmann)
16:41 FLA Rallo (1), (Brennan, Kuba)(PP)
05:38 TB Pyatt (7), (Purcell, Carle)
10:32 Killorn (6), (Hedman, Purcell)
The Lightning completely dominated large swaths of this game and deserved better than to only get 1 point out of it. It's damned hard to put together a winning streak when you're surrendering a soft goal or two every game, and the Lightning desperately need a winning streak.
Mike Angelidis was 43% on draws in 7:22.
Alex Killorn had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots in 23:20. He's so money.
Andrej Sustr was +1 with 1 shot in 8:19. Officially 2 giveaways. That'll get your ice time down in single digit minutes as a rookie.
Tyler Johnson had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 58% on draws in 16:53.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 11:39.
Radko Gudas had a fight, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:55.
Cory Conacher played 14:04 in the game.
Jon Cooper knows the way to the pay window.
Mathieu Garon allowed 4 goals on 25 shots, but was 2 for 2 in the PS session for the victory. He was pretty dreadful tonight, but the Lightning picked him up.
05:50 NJ Loktionov (7), (D'Agostini, Greene)
06:41 NJ Kostopoulos (1), (unassisted)(PS)
08:00 TB Stamkos (24), (St. Louis, Aulie)
10:26 TB Thompson (7), (Panik, Gudas)
13:58 NJ Greene (3), (D'Agostini, Zidlicky)(PP)
02:39 NJ Carter (4), (unassisted)(SH)
07:11 TB Stamkos (25), (Killorn)
19:44 TB Killorn (5), (Stamkos, Carle)
TB- Purcell, Hedman
Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn were the game's first and third stars. Coach Cooper saw just what a special player he inherits in Stamkos tonight. Everytime the Lightning looked ready to implode, Stammer got a big goal, and then he had the cool assist on Killorn's game tying tally with the extra attacker.
Love that the effort level is back from the entire team.
Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 20:52.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:07 in his NHL debut. High praise for a rookie defenseman: I didn't notice him.
Tyler Johnson had 1 hit and was 67% on draws in 14:26.
Richard Panik had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 12:25.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 3 hits in 12:52.
Radko Gudas had a helper and was +1 with 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:23. Pretty standard for Radko's office hours.
Cory Conacher was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:22.
Goaltending makes the difference.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss. At the end of the day, he's simply not an NHL goaltender. Winnipeg has a decent NHL goaltender in Pavelec, and that was the difference between winning and losing tonight. It was an incredibly tough spot to put Cedrick in starting him after the coaching change and the Lightning got about what I expected from it.
14:02 WPG Little (5), (Wheeler)
02:35 WPG Byfuglien (6), (Wheeler, Little)(PP)
06:20 TB Stamkos (22), (St. Louis, Salo)(PP)
09:35 WPG Enstrom (3), (Ladd, Little)
05:01 TB Conacher (9), (Brewer)
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
Now we move on to the elephant in the room, which is the question of who will be the next Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Let me make this plain: it would be incredibly foolish to select anyone other than Jon Cooper to coach this team. If there is any prejudice against AHL coaches because of Guy Boucher's inability to sustain the success he had early in his tenure, it should be tempered by the fact Cooper has achieved far more in his AHL career than Boucher ever managed. Where Boucher's Hamilton team fell in the AHL Finals, Cooper has won a Calder Cup with Norfolk and set historic records in the process He also, against all odds, has Syracuse in first in the Eastern Conference despite losing his best players to callup. He's done so without teams flush with top-60 draft picks, either. Take a look at the players the Lightning have brought up from Syracuse. Other than Panik, none of them were selected in the top-60, and Conacher and Johnson were undrafted free agents. And yet, they're in the NHL. Why? Partly because Jon Cooper has taught them to play the game the right way, and to maximize the talent that they have. Indeed, they are the living embodiment of Jon Cooper's resume. They backcheck well and are defensively responsible. They play with physical edge. They hustle their bags off. Above all, they're winners.
They, along with young stars Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, are the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning. And there are even more of Jon Cooper's players on the way up to the NHL. Brett Connolly, at a minimum, will join the team, and there are several others who will also be knocking on the door as well. If the next few years are destined to be played out by Jon Cooper's kids, does it not make sense that Jon Cooper should be the one to lead them? Not an NHL retread. Not another team's AHL coach, who does not nearly have the same record as Cooper or the unbelievable rapport Cooper has with the organization's young future stars. And with Andrej Sustr on his way to Tampa Bay next week and a top-10 pick looking to be in the offing this June, who better than Cooper, who we gave the monicker The Rookie Whisperer last year with Norfolk, to break them into the pro game?
My deep hope is that Steve Thomas being behind the bench tonight in Winnipeg along with Boucher's assistants was a tell. I hope it's a clear indicator that Jon Cooper is on the way. And, if he is, I have no doubt the future is very bright and the Lightning will be back as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference very, very soon.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 19:27.
Tyler Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:47. He was also 47% on draws.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:30. Holy God is he hard on the puck though. You better bring a SAM missile if you want to knock him off of it once he's got it.
Ondrej Palat had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:13.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 19:51.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 5:04 before leaving with the dreaded upper-body injury.
Cory Conacher had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:24.
That's seven Tampacuse players. Plus Aulie. That's over a third of the team's skaters. This is such a no-brainer decision, and it needs to be made correctly tomorrow before the Lightning can begin to climb again toward greatness.