We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for March 27 is … Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA).
Undrafted and undersized, Tyler Johnson has been huge for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One night after being shutout, the Syracuse Crunch were glad to be right back on the ice.
The Crunch jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period, added another in the second, and held on for a 3-1 win over the Albany Devils at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday night.
With the win, Syracuse paces the league with 86 points, two ahead of Binghamton for the Eastern Conference lead and one ahead of Texas in the Western Conference.
"We weren't going to let what happened last night happen tonight," said Syracuse forward Dan Sexton. "That's what makes good teams good -- they respond and they don't lose two in a row."
Still hanging onto first place.
Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He came within 54 seconds of a shutout before Albany's power play goal. Still, with the effort tonight, Helenius has finally managed to get his save percentage back to .900 for the season. He had a good February and is having a good March, which the Lightning have to hope leads to a good Option B for Syracuse come playoff time.
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Gauthier, Jacques), 13:39
SYR Sexton, (6) (Wyman), 14:25
SYR Brown, (10) (Wyman, Sexton), 14:00
ALB Anderson, (13) (Whitney, Gelinas), 19:06 (PP)
Dan Sexton, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Helenius were the game's three stars. Namestnikov's strong play in March also has to have the Lightning extremely happy. We at the website can't wait to see him and Nikita Kucherov lined up together, which could happen this season depending on how the QMJHL playoffs go.
With Providence going down to Worcester, Syracuse holds a 2 point lead on Binghamton for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Springfield and Providence lag by 3 points. Syracuse gets Rochester next on Wednesday, and with just 11 games left in the regular season every point matters from here on out, as it could be the difference between being 1 seed or a 4 seed.
6 of Syracuse's remaining 11 games are at home, including a nice 5 game homestand to close out the regular season. Also, 6 of the 11 games are against teams that currently would not make the playoffs, although the team they have the most games left with, ironically Norfolk, is just 2 points out of 8th in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Even with a familiar face in the opposition's net, the Syracuse Crunch tried to focus on the two points up for grabs.
Former teammate Dustin Tokarski stole the show, turning away 40 shots between the pipes for the Hamilton Bulldogs to hand the Crunch a 1-0 loss at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday night.
"It's the same two points," said Crunch goaltender Riku Helenius. "Obviously, I wanted to win today, but it didn't happen…Even when you play against your friends, it doesn't change things."
Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 26 shots to take the loss in a classic goaltending duel against ex-tandem mate Dustin Tokarski. Tokarski stopped all 40 shots he faced for the sweet revenge against Syracuse.
HAM Belzile, (1) (Bournival, Stejskal), 10:10
Helenius was the game's third star. Tokarski, of course, got top star billing.
Box score from TheAHL.com.