Lightning end a season of disappointment with an abundance of hope.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He was solid as a rock again today, making situational saves when needed and staying sharp despite long stretches where he had very little work. One of the biggest reasons for the Lightning missing the playoffs this season was subpar goaltending the first two-thirds of the year that came from the weird limbo situation that Ben Bishop was in. Once Bishop was moved out at the trade deadline and Vasilevskiy clearly moved into the number one role, Vasilevskiy played outstanding. He justified the opinion of a lot of people that he's the best emerging young goaltender in the game.
13:56 BUF Carrier (5), (Nylander)
5:59 TB Point (17), (Hedman, Dotchin)
12:20 TB Coburn (5), (Namestnikov, Killorn)(SH)
11:17 BUF Kane (28), (Gionta, O'Reilly)
18:36 TB Point (18), (Kucherov, Stralman)
19:59 TB Hedman (16), (Stralman, Point)(EN)
You never know what you're going to get in a game like this where there's nothing on the line after Toronto eliminated the Lightning last night with a late, come-from-behind win. I was pleased to see a pretty good overall effort from the Lightning, particularly for the first 40 minutes of the game, which I think in part stemmed from a smart decision by Jon Cooper to start Vasilevskiy and treat this more like a normal game. They were pretty sound defensively the first 40 minutes and, probably feeling a little more free with things settled in the standings, I thought showed more free-flowing offensive creativity. With tee times beckoning in the Third Period, I thought there were stretches it got a little too much like a QMJHL game with matching line rushes at both ends, but all in all I think the Lightning really closed the season strong and in style. Were it not for the heroics for Linus Ullmark in Buffalo's net, the Lightning could've easily put 7 or 8 goals on the board tonight.
The Lightning ultimately finish 2 points shy of a playoff berth with 94 points. Remember how we keep harping on that 96 point number? Yep, that's the number that would've gotten them in. There's no mysticism about it, and the Lightning learned a painful lesson this season about early season complacency. The good news, I'm happy to say, is that it seems that the team understands what happened, and after their first summer of rest in a long time seem ready to return next year with a renewed team identity and a chip on their shoulder. That's not to say there won't be changes to the roster. There are warts on this team, and players on the roster who either have plateaued as players or simply can't cut it on an elite-level NHL team. I trust that Steve Yzerman will make the changes necessary to address those issues, and have a lot of hope in my heart seeing the emerging young talent on this team.
Going into next season, you can see the Lightning have five forwards in particular that look to me to be capable of being among the NHL's best. Steven Stamkos, returning from injury, obviously is already well proven as an NHL superstar and Nikita Kucherov added himself to that echelon of players with his 40-goal, over a point-a-game campaign this year. Beyond those two, you saw two other players who I think have the capability of becoming top-10 NHL scorers: Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point. Drouin's talent is undeniable, and it remains not a question of "if" but rather "when" he makes that transition to being a 30 goal, 80+ point a year player. He could've had 4 goals easily today were it not for Ullmark's heroics. Point, on the other hand, came into this year with significantly lower expectations as a guy who was selected outside of the top-60 in his draft year who wasn't even expected to make the NHL roster this year. Had he not missed a month with a broken paw, he would've topped 20 goals this season and something about his rookie campaign gives me all the same feels that Brad Richards' rookie campaign in Tampa Bay did as a third round pick who played like a high first rounder. Rounding out this group is veteran Ondrej Palat, who has looked lost at times over the past two seasons but down the stretch of this year started to look like the two-way beast of a player he's shown he can be. Those give on the Lightning's forward corps give me the belief the team will be dynamic offensively next year.
The defensive corps is a bit more unsettled, but Victor Hedman made a serious campaign for the Norris Trophy down the stretch of this year in finishing second in the NHL in points among defensemen. I wouldn't bet against him winning it next year, and what we saw in Hedman's game this season was the checking off of the last boxes he needed to in order to transition to becoming a great NHL defenseman. Namely, the rise of the Lightning power play this year can be directly traced to the rise of Hedman as a legit power play threat. Maybe that's the silver lining of Stamkos' injury. With Stammer out, the Lightning became a much more "left handed" power play with things primarily playing off of Kucherov's triggers in the right wing circle. Hedman at the center point fed into that change from a "right handed" power play, and he started to really sharpen up his shot and improve his distribution skills. We always knew he was a wizard off the rush, but Hedman learned to thrive in the more stationary/lateral third-ice game of the power play. Supplementing Hedman is stalwart righty defenseman Anton Stralman and the found money that was youngster Jake Dotchin. Anybody who tells you they saw the rise of Jake Dotchin coming is either a (bleeping) liar or has a time machine. One of the magical things in sports is that sometimes a guy just "gets it" out of the blue and comes out of nowhere to become a good player. That was Dotchin this year. Those three form half of a solid NHL defense corps, and with two righties already nailed down, the job of filling out the rest of the Lightning blueline becomes a lot easier for Steve Yzerman to deal with. Lefties are a lot easier to come up with. Righties are rare as hen's teeth.
And then there's Vasilevskiy. Russia's answer to Carey Price. Mark my words: as talented as the Lightning are there will be other clubs in the NHL that will have better skaters and more skill... and the Lightning will have the answer in the form of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Watching him become what he looks destined to become is going to be fun.
Luke Witkowski had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:25.
Greg McKegg played 10:51.
Dotchin had a helper, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 17:07. I'd be interested to know if he draws any attention from the Canadian hockey program as a potential IIHF World Championships player.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:13 and was 63% on 8 draws. He will be headed back to Syracuse to help the Crunch in the playoffs, which Syracuse clinched a spot in today.
Yanni Gourde had 1 shot in 16:35 and was 40% on 10 draws. What a weapon for Syracuse to be getting back into the lineup.
Adam Erne was -2 with 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:01. The stat line looks ugly, but I thought he played a whale of a first 40 minutes in the game. The whole reason Drouin could've had 3-4 goals in this game was that Erne was absolutely dealing on the forecheck and was super-creative distributing once he forced Buffalo to turn it over. He needs to follow up this stretch run with a strong playoffs for Syracuse. He'll enter next season on the roster bubble, and if he approaches the task with the proper intensity and focus he can help this Lightning team. He has obvious size and strength and surprising explosiveness and skill. The fact he can work so well with Drouin like he did today speaks to the upside he has. He's not some bogus faux power forward plugger. He's got the tools to be a serious scoring line contributor in this league. You all saw the flashes of it over the last month.
Carey Price FEARS Yanni Gourde.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 29 saves for the win, including a couple of brilliant jaw-dropping saves to put a national TV audience on notice. From here on out, there's a crime wave coming any time you play Tampa Bay. #Vasilarceniy
11:42 TB Gourde (5), (Kucherov, Witkowski)
19:50 TB Kucherov (40), (Palat, Point)
9:59 MTL King (9), (Lehkonen, Nesterov)
14:19 TB Killorn (19), (Conacher)
4:36 MTL Lehkonen (17), (unassisted)(SH)
4:57 TB Gourde (6), (Conacher, Dotchin)
Gourde and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and second stars.
I'm done talking about the heart of this Lightning club. They just bounced Toronto and Montreal in back-to-back games on the road despite the slim odds they have to make the playoffs. They've got character and refusal to quit. It'll still take an inside straight for Tampa Bay to make it to the big dance, but kudos to them for making Toronto earn it. Worst case scenario, this is a club with a freshly minted 40 goal scoring superstar in Kucherov, one of the best emerging goaltenders in the game in Vasilevskiy, Brayden Point laying in the weeds to become another star in his own rights, and plenty of other talent coming with them. Jon Cooper's found a formula down the stretch here that, at a minimum, portend very very good things for next season.
A little over 2 months ago this team was dead last in the Eastern Conference. It's Game 81 on April 7th and they're still playing meaningful hockey. Give these guys credit for what they've done and the resiliency and chemistry they've found.
Luke Witkowski had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:25.
Greg McKegg was 64% on 11 draws in 10:59.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +2 with 4 hits in 17:03. I still have it in my head there's a sweet spot of around 17-18 minutes where Dotchin goes from being a good player to a really good player.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 6 hits, 2 blocked shots, and was 58% on 12 draws in 13:48.
Gourde had 2 goals and was +3 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 14:57. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Fun fact: Yanni Gourde has 3 of his 6 goals this season against Carey Price. True story.
Adam Erne was -1 with 4 hits and 2 blocked shots in 9:40.
As sun continues to sink on the season, Lightning continue to fight against the darkness.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. Another really strong performance down the stretch by Vasilevskiy, who has answered all of my questions about whether he's ready to be the starter in the affirmative.
7:34 TB Point (15), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)
9:42 TOR Kadri (32), (Hunwick, Bozak)
11:50 TB Kucherov (39), (Hedman)
2:00 TB Bournival (2), (Sustr, Hedman)
14:11 TB Point (16), (Palat, Dotchin)
Even as the Lightning's mathematical odds were dwindling ever closer to zero due to other results around the league, Tampa Bay reaffirmed their character in a convincing win over a Toronto team ready for a playoff coronation. There was a lot of, in my opinion unfair, hand wringing in the Lightning fan base after their loss to Boston with copious accusations that the Lightning somehow lacked heart in the game. Reiterating what I said after the game, I think the real culprit was the fatigue of trying to maintain a pace above .700 in the standings for close to two months with injury problems and trade deadline departures piling up around the team's ears. The truth is the complacency of the first two-thirds of the season caught up with the Lightning in Boston, as it was almost inevitably bound to do. But, that shouldn't invalidate the resolve the Lightning showed the final third of the campaign in fighting hard enough to still be playing meaningful games in April. That's no small feat, and a testament to both the coaching staff and the character of the team and its young, emerging stars. Tonight was the Lightning giving an RSVP for better things ahead next season.
With Ottawa defeating Boston in a Shootout tonight, the Lightning are now 3 points out of a playoff spot with 2 games left to play. Toronto still looks extremely likely to slip into the playoffs even despite tonight's effort and eliminate the Lightning, but credit to the Lightning for making them earn it.
Luke Witkowski had 2 hits in 4:53.
Greg McKegg was +1 with 1 hit in 9:16. He was also 38% on 8 draws.
Jake Dotchin had a helper, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:43, and made friends and influenced people all throughout the metro-Toronto region stepping up at his blueline for an awkward leg to leg hit on Leafs golden child Austen Matthews.
Gabriel Dumont returned from paternity leave to deliver 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 12:21. He was also 33% on 12 draws.
Yanni Gourde was 15% on 13 draws in 13:51.
Adam Erne had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:54.
Vampire Lightning see their season sputter to its end in Boston.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 37 shots for the loss. He might want the last one back, but for the most part Vasilevskiy was very good tonight and simply didn't get an ounce of goal support. It's happened to Vasiy too often this year and hopefully next season that trend will change, because he's played really well since Bishop was traded and will be one of the team's best players for several years to come.
5:56 BOS Stafford (7), (Krejci, McQuaid)
16:06 BOS Pastrnak (33), (Nash, Miller)
9:12 BOS Chara (10), (Krug, Backes)(PP)
18:58 BOS Pastrnak (34), (Krejci)(EN)
I think the spirit was willing for the Lightning tonight, but they just didn't have much more than fumes left in the tank after a month of maintaining a fairly blistering pace to give themselves the chance to play meaningful games in April. They had a very good push to open the game, but lost steam after the first 5-10 minutes. They should've gotten a lift after Brad Marchand was kicked out and given a major penalty for cup checking young Dotchin, but there was too much (possibly fatigue-induced) complacency on the resulting power play, and after failing to score with the man advantage Boston surged and pretty much blew the Lightning off the ice. The big, obvious lesson is that games in October, November, and December matter as much as the ones in March and April in the points column. The Lightning simply dug too deep a hole to realistically climb out of. Were injuries a factor? Sure. But complacency early in the season was a big factor, too.
It's a painful lesson, but one I think the Lightning will take to heart. I'm actually not as upset with this season given some of the seeds I saw planted in this stretch run. I look at this team and I see some echoes of the '01-'02 team's performance as they learned how to compete and win in the month of March. The two teams obviously aren't perfect mirrors, as this Lightning team is far more established as a legitimate NHL team, but there are still some important parallels you can take away. Specifically, I'm very heartened by the experience guys like Vasiy, Point, Dotchin, and Drouin gained playing key roles in this run, and how Kucherov started to assert himself as the main man since late February and Palat started to get his Palat-ness back. That's not to say there won't be roster changes. There are certainly passengers on this team (Killorn, Brown, and Sustr come to mind), some of which suffer from lack of athleticism/talent while some suffer from stagnation/complacency. And there are others who simply aren't NHL players who have been forced into the lineup due to injuries (Dumont, Vermin, and McKegg come to mind). But you could see a core reforming that will be supplemented when Stamkos and others return and get healthy. It obviously remains to be proved, but I really think the Lightning will be better for this bump in the road knowing there's also a ton of fresh talent headed to Syracuse next season like Stephens, Cirelli, and Joseph who bring a lot of character and energy to the pro ranks. After two seasons where the organization played more games than any other in the league, this might just be a quick, deep breath for the team before it presses on again in its pursuit of a Cup next year.
Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 8 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 10:16. As one of the fresher guys in the lineup, he was one of the most effective. I'm kind of in a tough spot in my appraisal of Witkowski. I like his character, but I don't see an NHL future for him on defense because he's just too stiff on his pivots and I'm not entirely sure he's versatile enough to be a new age Ben Clymer and move to forward full time, either.
Gregg McKegg had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:27 and was 50% on 8 draws. He's good on draws, but I don't see much else there. His skating and hockey sense are subpar for the NHL level.
Jake Dotchin had 1 shot and 3 hits in 20:09, but unfortunately may be a gelding after getting speared in the groin by Brad Marchand. It's a dirty play I hope Dotchin gets to avenge next season. Dotchin's been the biggest surprise of the year, no doubt. Had Dylan Blujus stayed healthy, I doubt Dotchin would've even gotten this opportunity. Now that he has, though, he looks like you can definitely pencil him onto the NHL roster for next year. His skating has been adequate and he's showed surprising hockey sense to go with the assets we knew he had. He's strong as an ox, physical, and has a booming shot. I just hope he doesn't turn back into a pumpkin in training camp next year.
Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 17:45. He also got killed in the faceoff circles going 21% on 14 draws. I think Yanni Gourde will be an NHL player next year, but probably not with Tampa Bay as he's an unrestricted free agent. I won't go so far as to say he'll be a 30 goal scorer like Marchessault has been since leaving Tampa Bay, but he's a guy who can help a team that's looking to get better.
Adam Erne was -1 and had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:04. With Brian Boyle out the door, I think Erne may stick next season because the team will need some size up front. He's a tantalizing mix of strength, deceptive speed, and skill just waiting to come together.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot in 10:16. Enjoy the NLA next season, Joel.
Even with Kucherov out ill, the Lightning keep their playoff hopes healthy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory.
4:22 DET Nielsen (15), (Helm)
18:58 TB Brown (3), (Dumont)
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)
6:03 TB Gourde (3), (Palat, Sustr)
8:18 DET Green (13), (Nielsen, Larkin)(PP)
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.
Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.
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.
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)
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)
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)
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.
Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)
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.
Lightning run into a juggernaut, see playoff hopes harmed.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
3:44 WSH Oshie (27), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
11:52 WSH Oshie (28), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
15:52 TB Kucherov (32), (Palat, Point)(PP)
16:08 TB Killorn (17), (Drouin)
3:14 WSH Williams (20), (Niskanen, Burakovsky)
5:30 WSH Carlson (8), (Oshie, Backstrom)
18:30 TB Kucherov (33), (Point)
19:16 WSH Oshie (29), (Backstrom)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
Valiant effort by the Lightning still playing with darn near all their centers out of the lineup and really testing the East's best team. Were it not for a bit of embellishment that led to the call in the Third Period that led to Williams' goal shortly after its conclusion, Tampa Bay might've well gotten points out of the evening.
Unfortunately, with the standings predicament the Lightning are in, there are no moral victories. They're running out of road quickly.
Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 7:19
Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes and was 60% on 10 draws in 8:44. McKegg is now a couple of games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 3 hits in 19:40.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:58.
Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 33% on 15 draws in 15:17.
Adam Erne had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:19.
The stuff that dreams are made of.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. It's overshadowed by the heroics at the other end by Condon, but what Vasilevskiy did again tonight was make every situational save asked of him to get the Lightning their chance at the winner's circle.
3:05 TB Point (12), (Dotchin, Coburn)
2:35 OTT Wingels (7), (unassisted)
4:05 TB Hedman (14), (Palat)
Victor Hedman was the game's second star.
Facing near impossible odds in their quest for a playoff spot, the Lightning look like a locked in team that is already playing postseason hockey. Tonight's challenges: 1.) Get road points in a back to back after a tough game against the Rangers last night, 2.) Again play short of centermen with Vlad Namestnikov back on the shelf, 3.) Solve a netminder in Mike Condon who decided to lose his mind tonight with ten bell save after ten bell save. Amazingly, the team never showed the effects of #1 or #2 and eventually they got the one they needed to solve #3. Now, after all the heavy lifting is done, they find themselves tied for the 8th spot in the East after being left for dead a month ago. The dream lives for the Lightning, with a lot of heavy lifting still left to do.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 7:51.
Greg McKegg had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04. He was also 45% on 11 draws.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 19:13.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 11:22.
Yanni Gourde had 4 shots in 20:20. He's playing so well on this recall and he hasn't shown signs of hitting a wall yet.
Adam Erne had 3 shots and 7 hits in 8:30.
Lightning scratch out 2 key road points.
Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He's been rock solid all year for LA and he's been just as good since the trade over to Tampa Bay.
5:53 NYR Kampfer (1), (Zuccarello, Kreider)
7:43 TB Point (10), (Kucherov, Drouin)(PP)
5:04 TB Dumont (2), (Garrison)
10:22 NYR Grabner (22), (unassisted)
13:21 TB Point (11), (Palat, Kucherov)
Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:49. He was also 17% on 6 draws.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:12.
Gabriel Dumont had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:07.
Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:10.
Adam Erne was -1 with 1 hit in 12:22.