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KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-18-14

KHL Gagarin Cup Finals
(1)Magnitogorsk 0 vs. (3)Praha 3
Praha Leads the Series 1-0
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 14/16, 2.01 GAA, .875 sv%
Regular season totals: 51 GP, 30-12-8, 9 SO, 1.88 GAA, .940 sv%
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 12-3-0, 2 SO, 1.68 GAA, .942 sv%

Petri Vehanen's 21 save shutout staked Praha to a 3-0 Game One win in the KHL Gagarin Cup Finals. Ex-Kings draft pick Justin Azevedo and ex-Devils draft pick Petr Vrana each had goals in the victory for Lev. Game Two is Sunday.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-16-14 Canadiens at Lightning

Young Lightning shy away from the moment.

MTL-5
TB-4 (OT)

Montreal Leads the Series 1-0

Anders Lindback allowed 5 goals on 44 shots for the OT Loss. Obviously the Lightning got outshot by a mile and only lost by a goal, so it's hard to complain too much about Lindback's play, but there were a couple of goals (Plekanec and Eller's goals) Lindback might want back. On the Plekanec goal, Lindback failed to get square to the shooter and was moving and on the Eller goal he got a piece but allowed it to get behind him and in. He's not the reason they lost tonight, and in fact he helped keep them in the game longer than they had any business being in the game. But, it's also fair to say he can play better, too.

First Period
10:09 TB Kucherov (1), (Brown, Paquette)
10:28 MTL Plekanec (1), (Emelin, Gallagher)

Second Period
13:24 TB Stamkos (1), (Kostka)
16:39 MTL Gionta (1), (Eller, Weaver)(SH)

Third Period
5:10 MTL Eller (1), (Gionta)
7:11 TB Killorn (1), (Johnson)
11:30 MTL Vanek (1), (Desharnais, Emelin)
13:27 TB Stamkos (2), (Killorn)

Overtime
18:08 MTL Weise (1), (Brière, Gorges)

Steven Stamkos was the game's second star.

I'm kind of struggling about how to approach this one. Montreal came into this game very well prepared and with a plan to put pressure on the Lightning and on Lindback. For the most part, though, the Lightning did a decent early job of matching that intensity and they eventually manufactured the early goal by Kucherov all alone in the slot for the finish, and things were looking very rosy... for about 19 seconds. 19 seconds later Radko Gudas got undressed around the corner on the rush and Lindback allowed a semi-soft goal on the resulting shot from the left wing circle and the game was instantly tied, and the team's confidence immediately dissolved. They played the next 20 minutes of hockey scared and looking every bit a team that was terrified of the magnitude of playoff hockey. They struggled to get out of their end. They mishandled pucks. Their passing betrayed them. They gave a rash of turnovers to Montreal.

With all that happening, Lindback managed to keep the game at 1-1 until midway through the Second Period when the Lightning started to make a bit of a push, eventually culminating in a great individual effort by Stamkos to get a 2-1 lead and the Lightning going on the PP at 16:06 of the period on a horribly undisciplined penalty by blockhead PK Subban. You had the feeling that the Lightning were about to really swing the game in their favor at that moment when Victor Hedman made a pinch that a blind man would've seen was ill advised resulting in the Gionta shorthanded breakaway goal, and the Lightning played pretty much the entire rest of the game on their heels. Their Third Period was as bad a period as I've seen them play all year and only an abnormally mortal Carey Price allowed the Lightning to stay in the game as long as they did. Also, I will say, credit to Alex Killorn who had a goal and an assist in the period and was one of the few Lightning forwards who played well (at least on the offensive end of the rink). In the end, though, Montreal simply had too much zone time and too many chances for the Lightning to overcome. They had a handful of dangerous chances in Overtime to steal the game, but that's all it would've been: a theft. They didn't deserve Game One, and in the end they didn't win Game One.

Now, if you want a silver lining: the Lightning can't possibly play worse than they did in Game One, so they only have one direction to go, which is up. They have some ongoing injury issues with Ondrej Palat leaving the game after knee-to-knee contact with Subban, an obviously hobbled Filppula, and Bishop still out of the lineup. But, with that put aside, it seems unlikely the Lightning will play another game the rest of these playoffs with that sort of fractured structure, poor passing, and timid approach because of the magnitude of the moment. I expect them to push back in this series, and if anyone is looking for a point of reference for a young Lightning team that struggled with the moment in their first few home playoff games before figuring it out, pop in the tape of Game One and Game Two against Washington back in 2003. This kind of tepid start can certainly be overcome.

Mike Kostka had a helper, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:46. He struggled a bit with the extra gear of the playoffs, to be honest, and made a couple of big mistakes on the Eller goal by failing to keep a puck in at the opposing blueline and then failing to pick up the trailer on the resulting odd-man rush. I'm interested to see if Cooper sticks with Kostka or gives Barberio a shot in Game Two.

Cedric Paquette had a helper, 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and he was 27% on draws in 11:28. He played a very gritty playoff game and hit everything that moved. But, in the end, he wears the goat horns for abandoning Weise in front of the Lightning net on the game-winning goal in Overtime. It wasn't an athleticism issue, in this case, it was a decision making issue at a time of the year when poor decision making gets magnified ten-fold. Like Kostka, I'll be interested to see if Cooper sticks with Paquette or if he goes to the press box and brings in Pyatt or another forward. I feel bad for the young man because he played a pretty good game, otherwise.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Erne, Vermin Score First Goals, But Crunch Fall in Shootout


By Jeremy Houghtaling

There were a few firsts in the last Syracuse Crunch home game of the season.

Adam Erne registered his first professional goal and Joel Vermin recorded his first goal in North America, but the Crunch ultimately fell in a shootout to the Adirondack Phantoms, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

"That was the positive from tonight, those guys scoring a goal and getting their first professional goals," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "Joel, I thought it was a great shot -- on and off the stick real quick. And for Adam, it was the same thing. That was the positive tonight."

AHL Game Night: 4-16-14 Phantoms at Crunch

The score of the night, evidently.

ADK-5
SYR-4 (SO)

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 4 goals on 26 shots and 5 of 9 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout Loss. Ugly stat lines all around.

First Period
SYR Vermin, (1), (unassisted) 6:27
ADK Bordson, (11) (Brown, Hagg), 8:54
ADK Holmstrom, (13) (Lauridsen), 19:46

Second Period
SYR Erne, (1) (Rankin), 3:25
ADK Serratore, (1) (Goumas, Alt), 7:16

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (21) (Marchessault, Erne), 8:20
SYR Rankin, (15) (Angelidis, Cote), 9:16
ADK Hagg, (1) (Alt, Cousins), 13:05 (PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
ADK- Cousins, Bordson, Noebels, Whitmore, Holmstrom
SYR- Rankin, Connolly, Richard, Gourde

Evan Rankin and Adam Erne were the game's first and third stars. Erne had an assist to go with his first AHL goal and Joel Vermin also scored his first AHL goal in the contest.

Syracuse remains at 1 game under .500 with 2 games remaining in the regular season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Bolt Prospect of the Week: April 15, 2014

We continue our Bolt 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 Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 15, 2014 is … Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, Salavat Yulaev (KHL - Russia).

If last week was Andrey Vasilevskiy’s final week playing in Russia, he left a lasting impression on his home country.

The teenage phenom was spectacular in net for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, nearly carrying the team through the Eastern Conference Finals to the Gagarin Cup series. While the official record books will show Mettalurg winning the series, 4-1, it was much, much closer than it appeared.

Last week Vasilevskiy allowed two goals in 10 periods of playoff hockey – and lost two games.

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