NHL Game Night: 4-21-13 Hurricanes at Lightning

Competitive? Check. Strategic? Check.

CAR-3
TB-2

Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss in his return from a high ankle sprain. I'm going to chalk up his first period performance to rust and compliment him on shutting the door the rest of the way. That's what good goaltenders do after they stub their toes in the opening frame.

First Period
00:16 CAR Semin (12), (E. Staal)
10:45 CAR Tlusty (20), (Semin, Corvo)
18:46 CAR Tlusty (21), (E. Staal, Semin)

Second Period
10:07 TB Stamkos (28), (Salo, St. Louis)(PP)

Third Period
02:16 TB St. Louis (13), (Lecavalier)

Martin St. Louis was the game's second star.

Again, the big thing for me in garbage time of the season is seeing effort and competitiveness. This string of 1-goal losses may not be the greatest for morale, but they show a team that is still trying and, whether we like to admit it or not, they're helping the Lightning strategically by improving potential draft position. Carolina leapfrogging Tampa Bay now puts the Lightning with the third most ping pong balls, 3 points ahead of Colorado in the standings. And, after 40 minutes, Colorado currently leads in their game 4-2. If they hold on, the Lightning move closer to having the second most ping pong balls.

Why is that important? This is a 3+1 draft, which is to say there are 3 really coveted franchise caliber prospects and 1 wild card (Nichushkin). If the Lightning are in position in the top-3, they might be able to land top defenseman Seth Jones. But, even if they can't, having the opportunity to draft one of the two coveted forwards out of the QMJHL gives the Lightning a lot of flexibility. They could trade the pick for an NHL defenseman. They could hold onto the pick, use it, and trade one of the valuable young forwards they already have for an NHL defenseman. Or, they could trade down and try to extract a king's ransom and take multiple defensemen later in the top-60 in a very deep draft. The world definitely opens up if the Lightning pick in the top-3.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 1 shot in 15:27.

Richard Panik was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 13:03.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 5 hits in 14:10.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:11.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.