I actually thought tonight was a huge improvement over the Toronto game.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the overtime loss. I thought it was another quality start. I feel like he should clearly be the starter at this stage.
TB 3:03, Tanguay 2 (Halpern, Downie)(PP)
OTT 5:02, Alfredsson 6 (Spezza, Michalek)
OTT 12:00, Fisher 6 (Kovalev, Spezza)(PP)
TB 13:40, Stamkos 12 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
OTT 4:17, Spezza 1 (Kuba, Fisher)(PP)
The offense is still lacking in continuity and not generating as many chances and as much forecheck as you might want, but the defensive effort was light years better than against Toronto.
Steve Downie had an assist, 17 penalty minutes, and 1 blocked shot in 8:45. Downie is now 7 games shy of graduating from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, and was 80% on draws in 8:51.
James Wright had 2 hits and was 50% on draws in 13:50.
Victor Hedman had 2 blocked shots in 15:17 before leaving the game after getting hit by Ottawa's Chris Neil. The way he grabbed his head, I'm a little worried it's a concussion.
Ugly, but I'll take it, I suppose.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 1 goal on 41 shots for the victory. I honestly don't know why there isn't a goaltending controversy at this point.
TB 18:34, Lecavalier 2 (Ohlund)
TOR 5:04, White 3 (Hagman, Beauchemin)(PP)
TB 2:21, Malone 9 (Tanguay)
It's lucky that A.) Nittymaki stood on his head again, and B.) Toronto is just awful enough to lose games like this even when they deserve to win. Allowing 41 shots to a team like the Leafs is a joke. Maybe the momentum and mojo the team will get from winning an overtime game will help them in the confidence department, but this is still a terrible Lightning team on the road.
Steve Downie was +1 with 2 hits in 11:44.
Drew Miller only played 4:09 in the game.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit and was 75% on draws in 4:52.
James Wright played 13:25.
Victor Hedman was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 4 blocked shots in 25:46. He also had 4 PIMs, though.
Niitty steals a point, and the Lightning shooters continue to make fools of themselves in the shootout.
Antero Niittymaki was lights out tonight, stopping 37 of 38 before going 3 for 4 in the shootout session for the shootout loss. He deserved a lot better from the guys in front of him.
NJ 0:50, Zajac 6 (Fraser)
TB 4:34, Stamkos 10 (St. Louis, Malone)
The Lightning absolutely sleepwalked through the first two periods of the game, with the exception perhaps of the final five minutes of the first period. It was terrible. Shots were 28-9 after 40 minutes, for New Jersey. Without Nittymaki, this game would have easily been a blowout. I don't get the inconsistency from this Lightning team from game to game, period to period, and situation to situation. And as far as the shootouts go, if I were Tocchet I'd ban dekes from the star players. Tell them to shoot. At least force the goaltenders to make a save.
Steve Downie had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 4 hits in 11:08.
Drew Miller was -1 in 8:51.
Zenon Konopka had 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and was 50% on draws in 11:04.
James Wright had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:20.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 26:24. I'm going to reiterate my request from the last game: I'd like to see him get more shots, particularly on the power play. They need to get him off this pass-first mentality. The scouting report from the Swedish Elitserien is that Victor possesses a world class one-timer. Nothing else is working on the PP (an ugly 0-for-3 tonight). Try a different weapon.
Payback. Revenge. Gettin' even.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the win.
TB 7:20, Stamkos 8 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 4:34, Fedoruk 2 (Hale, Downie)
TB 14:48, Malone 8 (Hale, Tanguay)
TB 7:09, Stamkos 9 (Lecavalier, Malone)(PP)
TB 9:29, Tanguay 1 (Malone, Stamkos)
OTT 10:17, Ruutu 4 (Kelly, Donovan)
OTT 14:19, Kovalev 4 (Alfredsson, Lee)
For the Lightning to crush Ottawa a little over a week after the Senators absolutely embarassed the Lightning 7-1 is a tremendous psychological victory, and the fact they physically outcompeted Ottawa right to the final whistle makes the win that much powerful. A game like this gives the Lightning big mo'. And Alex Tanguay breaks the snide in his first night on the Stamkos line. Beautiful. And, if the early verdict is true and this line continues to be productive, that frees Marty St. Louis up to stay on Vincent Lecavalier's line, and you know eventually those two will click together.
Steve Downie had an assist and was +1 with 7 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 12:04. He was strong on the puck. He was agitating as could be. He even beat up a bigger man in Jarkko Ruutu. Simply put, it might have been Downie's best game in a Lightning uniform (I'll overlook that first period turnover ten feet inside the Ottawa blueline). I wonder if he might get another shot in Wright's spot on Lecavalier and St. Louis' line at some point.
Drew Miller was -1 in 11:47. It's bizarre how clean his stat lines are.
Zenon Konopka was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:55. His stat lines tend to be the antithesis of Miller's. He was also 63% on draws.
James Wright was -2 in 10:07. Congratulations on sticking with the team, kiddo.
Victor Hedman had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 23:53. My current wishes for Hedman: work on keeping the puck in at the point on the PP, and I would like to see the Lightning encourage Hedman to shoot more on the PP. The man possesses a howitzer, but he's been deferring to the vets. Opposing PK's are adjusting to that. Hedman needs to stop being strictly a pass-first player.
That's another point the Lightning left out on the ice this year.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 32 shots, but one of those was a softie with time running out that cost the Lightning a point in the standings. After demolishing a water bottle, Smith stopped the 1 shot he faced in overtime and stopped 5 of 6 he faced in the shootout, but the damage was already done.
TB 19:59, Lecavalier 1 (Wright, St. Louis)
BUF 19:14, Grier 3 (Kennedy)
TB 4:26, Stamkos 7 (unassisted)
BUF 19:43, Stafford 3 (Roy, Rivet)
The Lightning are sitting at 3-3-3 for their record right now, but if they had actually finished off this game and the one against New Jersey they could easily be 5-3-1. The thing is, they dominated this game for much of the contest. It shouldn't have been a one goal game at the end of regulation anyway. And you can't blame Smitty for what happened in the shootout tonight. I can't fathom how Lecavalier, Stamkos, St. Louis, and Tanguay all failed in the shootout. That's uncanny, and frustrating.
Steve Downie had 1 hit in 10:43.
Drew Miller was -1 with 1 shot in 12:08.
Zenon Konopka had 2 hits and was 86% on draws in 7:34.
James Wright had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 3 blocked shots in 17:05. He's spent considerably less time on the deck the past two games than he did in the previous seven. Now it's decision time for the Lightning, but it seems obvious they'll keep Wright in Tampa rather than sending him back to junior. The key will be for the team to get him on the same in-season weight training program Stamkos was on last season so he doesn't burn out around the midway point of the year.
Victor Hedman had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 28:19. I thought he was off tonight. As good as he was against San Jose, he played a little too soft for my taste tonight and his giveaway obviously led to Buffalo's opening goal. Of course, had he hit the top corner on his chance in overtime, I might not be typing this at all.