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NHL Game Night: 3-22-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Erik Condra obliterates everything you thought you knew about this team...

DET-2
TB-6

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the win. Honestly, I thought he was fighting it hard tonight and got the benefit of two posts early on. He may need to go back into five-hole rehab after that Helm goal, in fact. Fortunately, the puck luck early on went the Lightning's way and allowed them to settle into a pretty good defensive game that protected Ben while allowing him to drink from the waters of sweet, sweet goal support.

First Period
1:47 TB Condra(4), (Palat, Boyle)
9:55 TB Namestnikov(13), (Brown)

Second Period
0:33 TB Stamkos(34), (Kucherov, Hedman)
8:08 DET Abdelkader(18), (Zetterberg, Kronwall)(PP)
15:25 DET Helm(12), (Datsyuk, Mantha)
17:42 TB Kucherov(28), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
1:03 TB Palat(14), (Johnson, Hedman)
16:56 TB Condra(5), (Boyle)

Erik Condra, Victor Hedman, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars. Yes, Erik Condra. And, what should terrify you more about the face that Condra had 2 goals is that he probably should've had 1-2 more. Try to think what a Condra hat trick would've done to the laws of time and space... and then thank your lucky stars tragedy was averted tonight.

Tonight's game was a convergence of them being on their possession game and getting the benefit of a lot of the puck luck. It wasn't a perfect game. They were sloppy at times with turnovers. Bishop was a little off, as noted. Alex Killorn looked like he was Magnus ver Magnussen in one of those strongman competitions pulling a semi truck behind him all game. But, on balance, they were on their possession game forechecking hard, their power play was actually not a liability tonight, and they got some breaks. That's a good formula for beating down a team 6-2, and one you'd hope will be repeated a few more times before all is said and done in the 2015-2016 campaign.

The win vaults the Lightning into a tie with the Panthers atop the Atlantic Division with Tampa Bay holding the big advantage in ROW. More importantly, with 7 games to go in the final 10 game set of the year, the Lightning have a magic number of 7 points to ease into the playoff comfortably. That's what you want. You want to be in comfortably at the end of 80 games with the chance to either go for a banner or rest some guys in the final 2 games of the regular season. The Lightning look to be back on track to do that, only needing to go .500 the next 7 games to hit the season target of 96 points.

Jonathan Marchessault was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 14:22. By my count he's now 2 games away from graduation from prospect status on the website.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Sign D Ben Thomas to Entry Level Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Ben Thomas to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Thomas, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, began the 2015-16 season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. He recorded three assists in 14 games with Calgary prior to being traded to the Vancouver Giants, also of the WHL, on October 27. Thomas skated in 60 games with the Giants, registering eight goals and 25 points with 40 penalty minutes. He led all Vancouver defensemen for goals and ranked second for assists and points.

The Calgary native has appeared in 213 career WHL games with the Hitmen and Giants, recording 22 goals and 90 points. He also played for Team Canada at the 2014 Under-18 World Championships, tallying one assist in seven games en route to earning the Bronze Medal.

Thomas was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 119th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-22-16

KHL Western Conference Finals
(1)CSKA 3 vs. (6)St. Petersburg 0
CSKA Leads the Series 1-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 5-9-14, -1, 0 PIM
Regular season totals: 56 GP, 20-29-49, +15, 14 PIM

Isles third rounder Ilya Sorokin stopped all 27 shots he faced for the shutout in CSKA's 3-0 Game One win over SKA. Ex-Senators farmhand Stephane DaCosta had a goal in the match for CSKA. Nikita Gusev played 20:10 in the loss.

Taormina Brings A Little of Everything to Crunch Blue Line


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Matt Taormina’s role with the Syracuse Crunch includes a little bit of everything.

The defenseman is one of the team’s main power play quarterbacks, a top penalty killer, a workhorse on the blue line during 5-on-5, and a veteran presence in the room. Taormina’s play has earned him a spot in the AHL All-Star Classic, as well multiple call-ups to the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

In his seventh full pro season, Taormina still lets his play do most of the talking.

“His best asset as far as being a role model for the players is how he approaches the game during practice and in the games,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “He’s not a real vocal guy who’s loud and in people’s face. He just does his job.”

Juniors Game Night: 3-20-16

Ontario Hockey League

Ottawa 67’s 4 @ Oshawa Generals 2

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: Did not play
Season totals: 61 GP, 21-36-57, -16, 27 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

The Gens kept a lot of their regulars out of the lineup in preparation for the playoffs. Oshawa will play top-seeded Kingston in the first round.

Windsor Spitfires 6 @ Sarnia Sting 3

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 63 GP, 16-26-42, +15, 105 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Windsor heads into the postseason with a win after beating Sarnia. The Spits will play the Rangers in the first round.

Power Play, Big Second Period Lift Crunch Over IceCaps


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Bolstered by an strong performance on the power play, the Crunch pulled away in the second period.

Syracuse scored four times in the middle frame and netted three goals with the man-advantage, as the Crunch routed the St. John’s IceCaps, 6-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.

“We had some early kills which were really good, and our power play came through,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “I think we were 3-for-3 on the first three of them, so that was a good thing that changed the game for us. I thought our guys played well and there was a number of guys who stepped it up tonight in a big game for us in a three-in-three.”

AHL Game Day: 3-20-16 IceCaps at Crunch

IceCaps crushed under an avalanche of multi-point nights by Syracuse.

STJ-2
SYR-6

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. Bath in the waters of sweet, sweet goal support, Kristers. Savor it.

First Period
STJ Hudon, (21) (Holloway, MacMillan), 1:23
SYR Gourde, (11) (Blujus, Richard), 7:10
SYR Tambellini, (24) (DeAngelo, Gourde), 14:25 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Richard, (10) (DeAngelo, Tambellini), 9:16 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (12) (Koekkoek), 10:46
SYR Drouin, (6) (DeAngelo, Richard), 12:31
STJ Hudon, (22) (Ellis, Holloway), 14:49 (PP)
SYR Drouin, (7) (McGinn, Vermin), 19:45 (PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Jeff Tambellini and Anthony DeAngelo also had multi-point nights, with DeAngelo breaking the 40 point plateau for the season with his 3 assists.

Syracuse continues to hover just on the outer edge of the playoff picture with just 11 games left in their regular season. Their 6-2-1-1 record in the last 10 games and back-to-back wins have given them a chance, but they'll need to keep up the pace to make it to the dance.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 3-19-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Joseph remains out with an injury and Imama may have been suspended for words said to an official Friday night that earned him a misconduct. Saint John’s next game will be in their first round series against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 7 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 6 (SO)

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-2-2, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan had two assists and Brendan Gignac (2016) had a hat trick for Shawinigan, but the Cataractes lost in a shootout to the Armada. Shawinigan is the No. 2 seed for the playoffs in the Q and will face Sherbrooke in Round 1. Yan finished the year with 12 points (4 goals) in his last 22 games.

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 5 @ Niagara IceDogs 4 (OT)

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 57 GP, 8-32-40, +24, 50 PIM
2014-15 totals: 48 GP, 7-19-26, -13, 68 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 60 GP, 5-19-24, +1, 46 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Peterborough gave up two goals in the second half of the third period, but prevailed in overtime. Peterborough will find out its first round opponent after the regular season ends tomorrow. The Petes have completed their schedule.

Sarnia Sting 6 @ Saginaw Spirit 4

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 9/17 FO
Season totals: 39 GP, 20-19-39, -3, 14 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

Saginaw had a 4-1 lead after two periods, then gave up five in the final frame. Flyers pick Travis Konecny had two goals and three assists. The Spirit will play top-seeded Erie in the first round. It doesn’t look to be a long series.

Western Hockey League

Swift Current Broncos 1 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 3

C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-2-2, +2, 2 PIM, *First Star*
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Point surpassed last year’s point total in 12 fewer games with two assists Saturday night. His career high is 91 points, set in his draft year in 72 games. He did set a new best in plus/minus, however. As for the Warriors, with the win they stay out of the wild card spot and will face Prince Albert as the third seed in the East Division.

Vancouver Giants 1 @ Kelowna Rockets 10

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM
Season totals: 74 GP, 8-20-28, -35, 50 PIM
With Vancouver: 60 GP, 8-17-25, -25, 40 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas’ season ended with a dud as the Giants were crushed in Kelowna, 10-1. Thomas could join AHL Syracuse on a tryout contract and at least practice with the club to get further evaluation. Syracuse is pretty full at defense at the moment, and especially on the right side. Thomas is up for a contract this spring.

United States Hockey League

Fargo Force 2 @ Omaha Lancers 3

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 30 GP, 12-14-4, 2.81 GAA, .906 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Omaha broke an 0-8-2 streak with a win over Luke Witkowski’s former team. They are sixth of eight teams in the Western Conference. The regular season ends April 10.

Waterloo Black Hawks 2 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 5

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 39 GP, 0-25-25, -7, 53 PIM
With Dubuque: 9 GP, 0-2-2, E, 2 PIM
With Sioux City: 30 GP, 0-23-23, -7, 51 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

The Saints are three points behind Cedar Rapids for first in the Eastern Conference.

NHL Game Night: 3-19-16 Lightning at Coyotes

Bishop outlasts Domingue in goaltending duel to set franchise SO record.

TB-2
AZ-0

Ben Bishop stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout, handing down U of Maine Justice for a franchise record 15th time in a Lightning uniform. Arizona didn't have a ton of A chances, and he had some long stretches of inactivity, but he stood on his head in the Third Period and on two 5-on-3's in the Second Period to get his team with win tonight.

First Period
19:03 TB Palat(13), (Hedman, Killorn)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
19:10 TB Kucherov(27), (Stamkos)(EN)

Bishop and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars. Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue was the third star. True, his soft goal allowed to Palat ended up being the difference in the game, but he can stay in the Western Conference, thank you very much. He's looked like Tony Esposito reincarnate the two times the Lightning have had to play him this season.

All-in-all, the Lightning put forth the effort they needed to tonight at even strength and especially on the penalty kill where they were masterful against an extremely good Arizona power play. Espo's Rule about not scoring on 5-on-3's held up. The Coyotes squandered a pair of them and, sure enough, they lost. In the half empty portion of the glass, the Lightning absolutely wet the bed on a 4 minute power play in the Third Period that begged to deliver the put away goal, but only delivered disappointment instead.

The Lightning pulled to within 2 points of the Atlantic Division lead, but more importantly, they cut their target number to 9 points. 9 points in the next 8 games and they should be in solid shape to make the playoffs comfortably. Get that and I'll be happy. Anything above that is gourmet gravy.

Jonathan Marchessault had 6 shots and 1 hit in 15:23 and was even pretty good when pressed into service on 3 faceoffs, going 67%. Tonight was a night where he played his game. Shoot the puck. Shoot the puck. Shoot the puck. If he keeps doing that, good things will happen. He needs 3 more games to reach graduation from prospect status on the website. I doubt Cooper can sit him next time out with the way he played tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 3-19-16

Ferris State Bulldogs 2 vs No. 15 Minnesota State Mavericks 1
WCHA Broadmoor Trophy Championship (Grand Rapids, MI)

W Jimmy Mullin, MSU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 31 GP, 2-8-10, -1, 8 PIM
2013-2014 totals (Miami): 19 GP, 1-6-7, 23 PIM

Ferris State held the Mavs to just 14 shots while winning the WCHA championship. Down 2-1 entering the third period, Minnesota State managed just one shot on net. MSU is not projected to make the Field of 16 to get to the Frozen Four in Tampa, but Boston University (MacLeod) is. If the Mavs don't make it in, Mullin's college career is over. It's possible he could get a tryout contract with Syracuse to end the year, but he hasn't produced enough to be considered a lock for a pro contract.

*USCHO poll used

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