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U20 WJC Game Day: 12-26-15

Group A
USA 4 vs. Canada 2
Brayden Point, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-0-0, -1 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Brayden Point had a team high 4 shots for Canada in their 4-2 tournament-opening loss to arch-rival Team USA. Team USA weathered a First Period spearing major and game misconduct by undrafted 18 year old Alex Debrincat of Erie before pulling away with 2 goals in the final 4 minutes of the game scored by Minnesota third rounder Louis Belpedio and presumptive 2016 number one overall pick Auston Matthews. Matthews had 1 goal and 1 assist, for his part, in the tournament opener.

Group B
Czech Republic 1 vs. Russia 2 (SO)
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Czech Republic weathered a First Period boarding major and game misconduct by Bruins first rounder Jakub Zboril before falling to Russia in the Shootout 2-1. Winnipeg fourth rounder Michael Spacek put the Czechs up 1-0 on a penalty shot in the Second Period before undrafted 19 year old Artur Lauta managed the Third Period equalizer and undrafted 19 year old Cape Breton star Maxim Lazarev sealed the win with a Shootout goal.

Liiga Game Day: 12-26-15

KalPa 4 vs. HPK 1
Jonne Tammela, KalPa, 1-1-2, +3, 3 SOG
Season totals: 19 GP, 4-2-6, +3, 14 PIM

The Cobra strikes! After a somewhat surprising cut from Finland's U20 WJC roster, Jonne Tammela responded with 1 goal and 1 assist in 15:04 of ice time as KalPa smoked HPK 4-1. Ex-Lightning pick Eero Somervuori scored the lone goal in defeat for HPK.

KHL Game Day: 12-26-15

Magnitogorsk 4 vs. Spartak Moscow 0
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, SO, 20/20, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Season totals: 36 GP, 15-12-7, 1 SO, 2.32 GAA, .917 sv%

Vasily Koshechkin turned aside all 20 shots he faced for his first SO of the season as Magnitogorsk clubbed Spartak 4-0. Recent signee Alexander Semin chipped in a goal in the victory.

Ufa 2 vs. St. Petersburg 1 (OT)
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals (St. Petersburg): 18 GP, 8-12-20, +4, 2 PIM
Season totals (Khanty-Mansiysk): 23 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 4 PIM
Season totals: 41 GP, 15-19-34, +10, 6 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a minor for holding in 18:50 of ice time in SKA's frustrating 2-1 OT loss to Ufa. Ufa's OT winner was scored by ex-NHLer Enver Lisin. Ex-NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk assisted on St. Petersburg's lone goal.

Bratislava 3 vs. Novgorod 0
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 9-7-16, +2, 49 PIM

Carter Ashton came up dry in 18:02 of ice time as Slovan Bratislava blanked Novgorod 3-0. Ex-AHL journeyman Barry Brust stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout while ex-NHLer Cam Barker chipped in 1 goal and 1 assist.

KHL Game Day: 12-24-15

Magnitogorsk 4 vs. St. Petersburg 5
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 2-1-3, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals (St. Petersburg): 17 GP, 8-12-20, +5, 0 PIM
Season totals (Khanty-Mansiysk): 23 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 4 PIM
Season totals: 40 GP, 15-19-34, +11, 4 PIM

Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, No Decision, 10/14, 9.17 GAA, .714 sv%
Season totals: 35 GP, 14-12-7, 0 SO, 2.39 GAA, .915 sv%

Nikita Gusev had a power play goal and assist and an even strength assist to help propel St. Petersburg to a 5-4 win over Magnitogorsk. Gusev played 13:30 in the win. Gusev's second goal chased Magnitogorsk starter Vasily Koshechkin in the Second Period. Ex-NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk also had 1 goal and 3 points for SKA in the win.

NHL Game Night: 12-22-15 Canucks at Lightning

Lightning waste an opportunity to climb in the standings.

VAN-2
TB-1

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the loss. I can't be mad at him. He gave them a chance with 2-3 really important saves in the Second Period.

First Period
15:57 VAN Baertschi (5), (Vrbata, Biega)

Second Period
19:38 TB Marchessault (5), (Kucherov, Stralman)(PP)

Third Period
11:09 VAN D. Sedin (16), (H. Sedin)

Jonathan Marchessault and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars.

First, the Lightning came out with a flat as a pancake First Period that they simply cannot have in the standings situation they're in. They only played energetic hockey for 40 minutes tonight and that just isn't good enough. Second, and most obviously, the power play went 1-for-10. There's the game right there. The first 6 chances on the PP were pretty putrid by the Lightning. They got the goal from Marchessault on the 7th and the 8th and 9th really fed on that and created the chances that the Lightning just couldn't bury, punctuated by one Stamkos crossbar. There's some good tape to study there, though. Marchessault, as a sniper in the slot/RW circle, helps the team develop a pressure point on the strong side of the ice and allows Stamkos to drift to the open area away from the play. That's how the Lightning power play needs to start to work. They can do that with Marchessault in that spot and they can do it with Tyler Johnson in that spot when he returns from injury. So, even though it's small solace right now, there's something to build off of despite how statistically ugly that performance was.

The kick in the pants is this game was a nice opportunity for the Lightning to close out this half of Segment Four of the season in great shape. They already had 6 points through the first 4 games and even 1 point would've put them in good shape to start to cut into their season deficit and get them back into playoff position. It's been a recurring pattern over the last 15 games: they've had their chances to do more than just tread water in the standings, and they just haven't been able to pull that one more win out to start to get their heads up above water. At some point, those chances will run out, though.

The Lightning, at least, will now take the holiday break to hopefully get a handful of their forwards out of the tub and back with the club with a must-win against Columbus coming up on Saturday.

Mike Angelidis had a 5 minute fighting major and 1 hit in 5:56. He was also 50% on 6 draws.

Marchessault had a goal and was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 19:03. He was also 67% on 6 draws. He played really well and displayed his best quality again: he's a pure sniper.

Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:03.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 12-22-15

Magnitogorsk 4 vs. Podolsk 2
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 22/24, 2.00 GAA, .917 sv%
Season totals: 34 GP, 14-12-7, 0 SO, 2.30 GAA, .918 sv%

Ex-Blue Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin had a pair of assists as Magnitka doubled up Podolsk 4-2. Magnitogorsk sits in 2nd place on the Eastern Conference table by virtue of their division lead in the KHL Kharlamov Division.

Novgorod 6 vs. St. Petersburg 5 (OT)
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 9-7-16, +2, 49 PIM

Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals (St. Petersburg): 16 GP, 6-11-17, +5, 0 PIM
Season totals: (Khanty-Mansiysk): 23 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 4 PIM
Season totals: 39 GP, 13-18-31, +11, 4 PIM

Carter Ashton had a power play goal in 16:25 of ice time as Novgorod defeated SKA St. Petersburg in a wild 6-5 OT contest. Nikita Gusev had a helper in 16:52 of ice time in defeat. Novgorod also got a pair of helpers from ex-NHLer Nikolai Zherdev in the win. Novgorod is in 4th in the Western Conference with SKA St. Petersburg currently sitting in 6th.

Juniors Game Night: 12-20-15

Ontario Hockey League

Sudbury Wolves 0 @ Oshawa Generals 7

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 10/27 FO
Season totals: 30 GP, 10-16-26, -9, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Cirelli scored on a slapshot from the high slot to give Oshawa a 4-0 lead Sunday. The Gens went on to shut out the Wolves, 7-0. Jeremy Brodeur (undrafted) stopped 17 shots for the shutout.

NOTES: Congratulations to Brayden Point and Mitchell Stephens for making Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Finland. They join fellow Lightning prospects Dominik Masin (Czech Republic) and Jonne Tammela (Finland) in the tournament. Masin is the Czech’s captain.

The CHL is now off until December 28.

NHL Game Night: 12-20-15 Senators at Lightning

Lightning show no signs of a Washington hangover.

OTT-2
TB-5

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory. It wasn't one of Bishop's more dominant performances, because it didn't have to be. That said, he made 1-2 key situational saves in the Third Period that allowed his club to eventually pull away at the end.

First Period
4:20 OTT Smith (8), (Lazar)(SH)
5:23 TB Nesterov (1), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)
7:16 TB Stamkos (13), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)(PP)

Second Period
2:45 TB Angelidis (1), (Blunden, Marchessault)
14:28 OTT Karlsson (9), (Hoffman, Pageau)

Third Period
18:27 TB Killorn (6), (unassisted)(EN)
18:40 TB Stamkos (14), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)(EN)

Nikita Nesterov and Mike Angelidis were the game's first and third stars.

Tonight was a battle of a couple of injury depleted teams. With Brian Boyle leaving the game with an apparent concussion, the Lightning were depleted to 10 forwards, seemingly half of which were fresh up from Syracuse. Meanwhile, injuries and a match penalty shortened Ottawa's bench to about 11 forwards and 4 defensemen. The ensuing test of team depth was one the Lightning appeared to pass with flying colors. The Lightning power play continued to show the same signs of improvement it's teased over the past week and the Lightning had the lion's share of possession throughout the contest. More importantly, they cleared some psychological hurdles by getting through the Third Period protecting a 1 goal lead after melting down against the Capitals last time out. I thought they may have been a little guilty of playing not to lose in the first half of the final frame, but they got on their forecheck in the back half of the Third and eventually pulled away for the big victory.

With Brian Boyle, I imagine, out for the Canucks game to rest his head until after the Christmas break, I'd expect Tanner Richard to make his NHL debut on Tuesday.

With two more goals tonight, Steven Stamkos seems to be awakening from his slumber. A lot of the credit, in my opinion, goes to the less publicized play of Vladislav Namestnikov, whose heroics tonight included springing Val Filppula for a penalty shot-enducing breakaway and a clever backhand up-pass that eventually led to a Kucherov breakaway and a Stamkos chance dead in the mid slot after Kucherov missed. Even with those two near-misses, he had a couple of helpers tonight as he is starting to look like a real nice NHL scoring liner. He's been as important to the success of that line with Stamkos and Kucherov as Kucherov, in my opinion, and that's no small statement when you think about it.

The win was huge as far as the playoff pursuit goes. On a macro-level, which I caution you not to get too caught up in during the month of December, the Lightning moved to within 2 points of 3rd in the Atlantic Division and 1 point of the second Wild Card spot. On the micro-level, which the Lightning need to be more concerned with, they got to 6 points for this 10-game segment through 4 games. A win against Vancouver next time out would set them up nicely to get more than the minimum 12 points in 10 games you try to get and start to cut into the 5 point deficit they have for the season because of that terrible Segment Two of the season. You'd love to see them get 14-15 points out of this segment somehow and cut that deficit down to 2-3 points by the mid-season mark.

Angelidis had his second NHL goal and was +1 with 1 shot in 14:10. He was also 31% on 13 draws. Strong night for the Crunch line of Blunden, Angelidis, and Marchessault with Angelidis getting the payoff on the greasy goal on a play Blunden brought to the high traffic area. Blunden's been a pleasant surprise with how he's played over the past 3 games and Angelidis' game tonight was just par for the course for anyone who has seen him play for Syracuse. Just an honest, grinding forward.

Jonathan Marchessault had a helper, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 10:13.

Nesterov had a PP goal, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 13:10. His goal was extremely important after the deflating shorthanded goal against.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-20-15 Crunch at Bears

Crunch fritter away a 3 goal lead to fall in OT.

SYR-4
HER-5 (OT)

Adam Wilcox allowed 5 goals on 44 shots for the OT loss. Hard to be mad at the goaltender when the team gets outshot 44-16.

First Period
SYR McGinn, (7) (Erne, Tambellini), 8:06 (PP)
SYR Erne, (2) (Paradis, Taormina), 10:45 (PP)
SYR McGinn, (8) (DeAngelo, Peca), 13:21 (PP)

Second Period
HER Stanton, (2) (Camper, Walker), 13:39
HER Stephenson, (3) (Barber, Bowey), 14:42

Third Period
SYR Tambellini, (11) (Paradis), 2:25 (SH)
HER Collins, (4) (Moore, Walker), 9:00
HER Djoos, (2) (Stephenson, Gazley), 11:22

Overtime
HER Collins, (5) (Stephenson), 0:25

Tye McGinn was the game's third star.

For much of the night, it looked like the Crunch were going to cap a pretty successful weekend with a win. Considering the team was having to play two defensemen at forward because of the injuries up top in Tampa Bay, maybe getting 3 of the possible 6 points out of the set is as successful as can be expected.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-19-15 Penguins at Crunch

Blanked.

WBS-3
SYR-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss.

First Period
WBS Kostopoulos, (7) (Sundqvist, Andersen), 6:20

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
WBS O'Neill, (4) (Mouillierat, Rust), 3:33
WBS Kuhnhackl, (6) (Simon), 5:19

Matthew Peca was the game's third star.

Syracuse actually outshot Wilke-Barre/Scranton 30-23 in the contest, but couldn't find the scoresheet.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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