NHL Game Night 12/30: Canadiens at Lightning

Ou est Lecavalier et St. Louis?

MTL-2
TB-1 (SO)

Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 30 shots, but then allowed both Montreal shooters to score in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss.

First Period
13:18 TB Prospal (7), (Malone, St. Louis)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
00:46 MTL Latendresse (5), (Lapierre, Kostopoulos)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
MTL- Kovalev, Lapierre
TB- Jokinen

The Lightning's best players tonight were, in no partocular order, Smith, Ryan Malone, Andrej Meszaros, and Evgeny Artyukhin. Absent from that list? Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. It's not rocket science: if those two don't score, the Lightning are going to struggle to defeat quality opponents like Montreal. They're getting excellent goaltending and some secondary scoring. Heck, they're even getting some inspired play from their defensemen at times. So now it's up to Lecavalier and St. Louis. They need to turn up the volume over the next two months to get this team over the hump.

It was nauseating to be outnumbered by Canadiens fans in our own barn. They were well behaved, at least. I mean, I wasn't stepping over drunks and weaving between fist fights like I would if we were invaded by Flyers fans. Still, I would've loved nothing better than to answer their annoying little "Go Habs Go" chant with a little "Go Home Habs."

Matt Smaby had a team high 7 hits in 15:47 filling some of the ice time vacated by a scratched Marek Malik. He did some good things. He's looked better in this recall; good enough for me to think that maybe he needs to replace Jamie Heward on the roster. He made some mistakes again, sure. But, like I said after the last game, as long as they are mistakes of aggression I'm more willing to live with them. And, it's not like his veteran bretheren on the Lightning blueline don't make mistakes in their own rights. Steve Eminger is working hard to make me go gray early in life by backing off shooters and routinely letting them walk the puck into the slot.

Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 hit and was 57% on draws in 10:34. He's taken a bit of a step back since that amazing game against the Pens.

Steven Stamkos had 1 shot, 2 hits, and was 67% on draws in 11:45. He had one really awful power play shift in the third period. Other than that I thought he was ok.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.