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NA Juniors Playoff Game Night: 4-12-13

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

(5)Quebec Remparts 1 @ (8)Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 6
Rouyn-Noranda wins Best-of-7 second round series, 4-1

W Nikita Kucherov, R-N: 3-3-6, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 0 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 7-11-18, +10, 10 PIM
Season totals: 33 GP, 29-34-63, +17, 14 PIM
With R-N: 27 GP, 26-27-53, +18, 12 PIM
With Quebec: 6 GP, 3-7-10, -1, 2 PIM

Coming into Game 5, Bolt prospect Nikita Kucherov had three points in his series against the Remparts, but he broke out in a huge way on Friday night. The Russian had a hat trick and three assists for six points and first star honors, helping the Huskies to a 6-1 win. He could have had another goal, but missed on a penalty shot.

Rouyn-Noranda advances to play top-seeded Halifax and top-5 picks Jonathan Druin and Nathan MacKinnon in the league semifinals. Kucherov had the last laugh against Remparts GM and coach, Patrick Roy. The NHL Hall-of-Famer had Kucherov on his roster in the fall but chose to keep two other import players instead of Kucherov. The Lightning’s 2011 second round pick requested to be traded if he wasn’t going to play, and Roy moved him to the Huskies. Like his statue of liberty pose for the Avs against the Red Wings in the playoffs, this probably wasn’t Roy’s best decision.

Connolly, Johnson Returned to Syracuse

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned forwards Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Connolly, 20, has skated in five games with the Lightning this season, tallying one goal on 10 shots. He scored his lone goal of the season while on the power play last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward has also appeared in 67 games with the Crunch, registering 27 goals and 57 points to go along with a plus-15 rating and 51 penalty minutes. Connolly ranks second on Syracuse for goals and points and is third for assists with 30. The Campbell River, British Columbia native was originally drafted by the Lightning in the first round, sixth overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Johnson, 22, has played in 14 games with the Lightning this season, collecting three goals and six points to go along with a plus-3 rating and four penalty minutes. The 5-foot-9, 182-pound forward made his NHL debut on March 14 against the New York Islanders and recorded his first career NHL goal and assist on March 16 versus Carolina. Johnson ranks second among all NHL rookies in faceoff percentage at 59.5% (minimum 50 taken). The Spokane, Washington native has also appeared in 59 games with the Crunch, posting 32 goals and 58 points with a plus-28 rating. He ranks first on Syracuse in goals and points and has a team-high 11 power play goals.

NCAA Game Night: 4-11-13

(Midwest-3) St. Cloud State Huskies 1 vs (East-1) Quinnipiac Bobcats 4
National Semifinals

F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 38 GP, 15-15-30, +17, 36 PIM

Peca and his line with the twins, Conner and Kellen Jones, were flying all night but only scored one goal – a wrist shot by Kellen Moore from the slot. It didn’t matter as QU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and coasted to a 4-1 win and a berth in the national championship game against conference and state rival Yale. That game will be played on Saturday night on ESPN. Peca received constant compliments from the ESPN 2 crew throughout the game as he showed off his speed and stickwork, creating multiple scoring chances. John Buccigross and former Lightning coach Barry Melrose called Peca’s line one of the best in the country this year.

NHL Game Night: 4-11-13 Penguins at Lightning

Like Lou Rawls said, "Love is a hurtin' thing."

PIT-6
TB-3

Ben Bishop allowed 6 goals on 45 shots for the loss. Guessing he's out of gas after spending much of the year in a deep goaltending rotation.

First Period
04:07 PIT Jokinen (8), (Morrow, Dupuis)
06:02 PIT Dupuis (20), (Kennedy, Niskanen)(PP)
16:00 TB Purcell (9), (Stamkos, Salo)(PP)

Second Period
01:48 PIT Kunitz (21), (Iginla, Letang)(PP)
05:46 TB Connolly (1), (Panik, Killorn)

Third Period
01:24 PIT Malkin (8), (unassisted)
04:45 PIT Jokinen (9), (Murray, Dupuis)
16:40 PIT Glass (1), (Jokinen, Iginla)(PP)
19:42 TB Purcell (10), (St. Louis, Carle)(PP)

I actually thought the Lightning set themselves up well to pull the upset heading into the Third Period, but after Bishop allowed the soft goal to Malkin the wheels started to come off. It's time to face facts, Steve Yzerman pulled the trigger on Boucher about 1 month too late to give Cooper the time he needed to turn this season around. The good news is that most, not all, but most of the Syracuse kids played decent games against the Pittsburgh machine tonight. That bodes well for next season.

Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 16:47. I wish he didn't play so tentative. Would've loved for him to score and then punch Pierre McGuire in the mush whilst explaining, "Learn to pronounce my name baldy." He was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today.

Alex Killorn had a helper but was -2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:31. He's been logging a ton of ice time lately and I wonder if he's hitting a bit of a rookie wall.

Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:29. Looked darned good with the puck on his stick. Looked fast and dangerous. He was also named a First Team AHL All-Star today.

Richard Panik had a helper and was -1 with 3 hits in 11:36. He had the primary helper on Connolly's beautiful tic-tac-toe goal. Connolly was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today, by the way.

Radko Gudas was -1 with 16 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:43. He's getting caught up ice too much. I like the effort level and toughness, but he needs to clean up some of his decision making.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 9:31.

Time to start sending the kids back to Syracuse for the playoffs. With the roster they have right now, the Crunch are in danger of a first round upset. It's too valuable a developmental opportunity and the NHL season is lost. Put Pouliot and Pyatt back in and send a couple key players down. It's the shrewd thing to do.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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