NHL Game Night: 12-19-13 Predators at Lightning
Nashville almost got run out of the building.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. Christmas came early as the Lightning skaters finally gave him some goal support. Ho, ho, ho!
2:25 TB Killorn (8), (Hedman, Cote)
19:06 TB St Louis (14), (Salo, Killorn)(PP)
6:36 NSH Smith (7), (Cullen, Weber)
08:27 TB Purcell (8), (Filppula, Carle)
13:02 NSH Smith (8), (Cullen , Ellis)(PP)
13:51 TB Panik (2), (Brewer, Sustr)
The scoreboard and shots on goal say this game was a lot closer than what the eyeball test said. The Lightning dominated territorially throughout this contest and clearly had the bulk of the scoring chances. They had so many opportunities to get a 3 goal lead and turn this into a complete squash that they just couldn't quite cash in. In the future, as they mature, they'll refine their killer instinct and get that last goal they need to put teams away early. As it is, I'm just pleased they put that steaming pile they played for 56 minutes in Long Island behind them and showed a much higher quality effort tonight.
This game marked the halfway point of the 4th 10-game segment of the Lightning's season, and they already have 8 of the minimum 12 points you want in each segment. They've got a really good opportunity to not only hit their target for this segment but also, if they keep the hammer down, to rebuild some of the insurance points they lost in the last segment when they had to burn 3 of the 4 they had earned in the first 20 games of the year. If you're wondering, the Lightning have ~20 games to get through before Steven Stamkos' rumored target to return. So the goal needs to be to continue to stay on target through about 60 games of the season when, after some time to knock off the rust, you hope Stamkos can re-add about 1 goal a game to the offense when he comes back (statistically, that's about what his absence has meant). That could make a good Lightning team a great Lightning team if they can pull it out, because it's like adding a 50-goal scorer at the trade deadline for F-R-E-E!
Radko Gudas was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:23. As expected, his ice time went down a bit with Hedman back in the lineup. He also had to deal with the frustration of having no star forwards to drive insane tonight because Nashville doesn't have one. Zing!
Tyler Johnson had 1 shot and was 44% on draws in 20:40. His line was crazy active tonight. They did everything but light the lamp offensively.
Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 5 shots in 17:56. We can officially declare any slump he was in to be deceased, because he could've easily had another goal and he was nice and active all night long. You could see it coming once he switched back to wing. This is obviously the role he's comfortable in.
Ondrej Palat had 2 shots and 2 hits in 21:37. He's a crafty one, that Ondrej Palat. He'll take your wallet, keys, and your girl if you're not looking. He's sneaky good with and without the puck.
J.T. Brown was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:33. He shows good chemistry with old Syracuse linemate Kucherov from time to time.
Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 3 shots on goal in 11:36. He got stopped on a breakaway in this one and was dangerous throughout the game both shooting and passing the puck. His stickhandling skill puts a tremendous amount of pressure on defenders, and will benefit his linemates even more than Kucherov at this level because teams will break down defensively trying to stop Kucherov, which will free up space for other guys. There's two other guys, Drouin and Namestnikov, waiting in the wings who also have that ability. It'll be fun. Trust me.
J.P. Cote had his first NHL point - an assist - and 2 hits in 9:43. He's 31 years old and he got his first NHL point. Nice stuff. He looked pretty poised with the puck on breakouts. Very quick and crisp moving it. He got absolutely torched by Hornqvist on a 1-on-1 play in the First Period, though, and was used very sparingly thereafter. The coaches will be easing him in slowly.
Andrej Sustr had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 11:02. He's another guy who should see his ice time reduced a bit with Hedman back.
Richard Panik had a goal and was +2 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:09. He's about as complicated to read as Highlights Magazine. You can tell within the first couple of shifts every night if he's got it, usually, and tonight it was obvious early he was going to do something. He got one deflection goal and nearly had another and popped Hornqvist pretty good at the benches at center ice in the Third Period. Cooper had him on late with Nashville with the 6th attacker out because I think Cooper wanted to try to get Panik another goal to really get him rolling. If he can get back on track, that'd be a big bonus for the Lightning.