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NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-17-16 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning never get their legs under them in wasted Game Three opportunity.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He gave his club a chance, but they simply did nothing in front of him offensively for about 95% of the game.

First Period

Second Period
12:42 DET Athanasiou(1), (Tatar, Andersson)
17:22 DET Zetterberg(1), (unassisted)

Third Period

16 shots on goal just isn't good enough at any level. Period. The Lightning did an excellent job of weathering any big immediate push by Detroit in the First Period, even killing off a 5-on-3 power play, but the last 40 minutes of hockey were embarrassingly flat hockey by the Lightning. They got into penalty trouble with some stupid/selfish penalties in the Second Period, lost the momentum, and never recovered. Even the meek little push they put in for the Third Period wasn't much because the Wings just packed it in and blocked all of the Lightning's shots coming from the points. Petr Mrazek probably hasn't had a shutout that easy in his entire life, let alone one in an NHL playoff game.

The Lightning did send a message with a big line scrum at the end of the game. Hopefully that injects some life into them for Game Four. They desperately need to get back on the maniacal forecheck they displayed at home in Game One and Game Two. If they do that, Detroit's defense doesn't appear to be mobile enough to handle it. If they don't, this will be a tie series and the Lightning will be in for a long, hard slog.

The only highlight of the night? Watching Justin Abdelkader get exposed as the king-sized coward he is. Locked up with Brian Boyle in the postgame scrum and challenged repeatedly to drop the gloves, Abdelkader proved what we all suspected: he's all chicken and no nuggets. He's a real tough guy when a guy's pinned to the ice with his back to him, but when he had to face down an opponent like a man, he showed he's nothing of the sort.

Box score and extended statistics from

AHL Game Night: 4-17-16 Crunch at Phantoms

Crunch go quietly into that good offseason...


Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
LV Swavely, (3) (Goulbourne, Sanheim), 8:26

Second Period
LV Brent, (10) (Conner, Willcox), 4:00
LV Aube-Kubel, (2) (Lindblom, Bardreau), 12:06
SYR Tambellini, (28) (Peca), 19:36 (SH)

Third Period
LV Sanheim, (1) (Martel, Padakin), 6:43
LV Martel, (22) (Padakin), 19:09 (EN)
SYR Tambellini, (29) (Darcy, Broll), 19:43 (PP)

Jeff Tambellini finished the season just 1 goal shy of a very solid 30 goal campaign.

There were some good signs for the Crunch down the stretch of the campaign, but not enough to say for certain the team has turned the corner. Heading into 2016-2017, they're getting an infusion of more talent, but they'll remained challenged by a lack of top end speed/skill that hasn't been replaced since the Kucherov's and Namestnikov's of the world moseyed their way to Tampa Bay. The Lightning need to get back on their horse identifying more of those speed/skill players via the draft and with undrafted free agents if they want to rebuild the depth in their pipeline and have this Syracuse club playing in the postseason and getting meaningful experience next season.

Box score from

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-17-16

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
Magnitogorsk 2 vs. CSKA 3 (OT)
Series Tied 3-3
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, OT Loss, 30/33, 2.96 GAA, .909 sv%
Playoff totals: 18 GP, 13-5-0, 3 SO, 1.60 GAA, .946 sv%
Regular season totals: 50 GP, 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%

There will be a Game Seven to decide it all in the KHL this season after ex-Capitals second rounder Mikhail Yunkov scored 1:40 into OT to lift CSKA to a 3-2 Game Six win over Magnitogorsk. The goal was Yunkov's second of the match. Ex-Blue Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin had a pair of helpers in defeat for Magnitogorsk.

AHL Game Night: 4-16-16 Comets at Crunch

Peca's first multi-goal game as a pro.

SYR-3 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
UTI Zalewski, (15) (Gaunce, Valk), 0:18
SYR Thomas, (1) (Broll, Darcy), 4:58

Second Period
UTI Friesen, (14) , 14:10 (SH)

Third Period
SYR Peca, (7) (Walcott), 3:02
UTI Zalewski, (16) (Fedun, Gaunce), 6:00
SYR Peca, (8) (Tambellini, Tammela), 14:07

UTI Gaunce, (16) (Zalewski, Fedun), 0:33

Matthew Peca was the game's third star. Ben Thomas also notched his first goal as a pro while "The Cobra" Jonne Tammela had his first North American pro point on a helper on Peca's second goal.

Box score from

Crunch Battle Back Three Times, But Fall to Comets in OT

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch battled back three times.

The Crunch answered each of the Comets’ three go-ahead goals in regulation but ultimately fell in overtime, as Syracuse lost to Utica, 4-3, in the Crunch’s home finale at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“I think we battled back a lot today, which was good,” Crunch forward Matthew Peca said. “Even though we put ourselves in positions to have to battle back — maybe some goals we didn’t want to give up like the shorthanded one — but I thought we battled. We didn’t give up, we tied it late. Tough break in overtime.”

Juniors Game Night: 4-15-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3 (OT)
QMJHL Second Round
Cape Breton leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Imama was suspended seven games for this hit in Game 4. Seven is excessive and clearly a reputation ruling. The Dogs lost in overtime in Game 5, and could be eliminated Sunday in Sydney.

Western Hockey League

Moose Jaw Warriors 3 @ Brandon Wheat Kings 7
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Brandon wins best-of-7 series, 4-1

C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-0-0, -4, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 6-10-16, -3, 10 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM

Brayden Point’s junior career ended in Brandon Friday as the Wheat Kings eliminated the Warriors, four games to one. Moose Jaw’s captain, Point finishes his career with 324 points (134 goals) in 252 games. The Lightning have already signed him, so he’ll start his pro career next year. With AHL Syracuse ending their season this weekend, Point could be brought into Tampa as a Black Ace or at least to be around the team for a few weeks, as is sometimes done. Congrats to Point for an outstanding junior career.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-15-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Lightning coming alive in the postseason.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. Bishop looked much more confident and under control in Game Two and the Lightning played a much tighter game in front of him defensively. That bodes really well for the rest of the series.

First Period
15:17 TB Kucherov(3), (Hedman, Johnson)(PP)

Second Period
3:30 DET Larkin(1), (Ericsson, Kronwall)
6:46 TB Boyle(1), (Drouin, Coburn)

Third Period
4:27 DET Richards(1), (Green, Tatar)(PP)
6:32 TB Johnson(1), (Killorn)
14:48 TB Johnson(2), (Kucherov, Garrison)
17:16 TB Killorn(2), (Carle, Killorn)(EN)

Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars.

Somewhere in the course of this game a sneaking suspicion of mine that I've had all year was confirmed: the Lightning were sandbagging it most of the regular season. Deliberately? No. But it was clear they were sleepwalking through quite a few games and weren't playing with the same intensity Lightning fans were used to. It's human nature when you get within 2 wins of hoisting the Cup. I suspect now that they've been bit by the bug, it's hard to get up for anything but playoff hockey, but now that the postseason is here? My goodness. The Lightning have ratcheted everything up tenfold, and it's electric right now.

The First Period of this game was an absolute squash for the Lightning. The game could've easily been 4-0 after the opening frame after the Lightning hit two posts and a crossbar to go along with Kucherov's 5-on-3 PP goal. The defense was tighter. The breakouts were clean. The forecheck was swarming. For goodness sake, the power play even looked lethal with some of the best puck movement we've seen all season.

Detroit was lucky to even be in the game in the Second Period when a momentary lapse gave Larkin the tying goal after a saggy power play to start the middle frame. Still, and somewhat incredibly, the Lightning just didn't sag and got right back on their forecheck. And, even though the refs had a spate of (questionable) calls against the Lightning in the Second Period, the penalty kill was incredibly stout and they eventually pulled back ahead on a pretty no-look pass by Drouin to the trailer on a 3-on-2. Drouin played even better in Game Two than he did in Game One, and he was arguably the most dangerous Lightning forward in Game One to begin with. The puck is starting to follow him around the rink, which is the mark of a star player. It's kind of amazing he doesn't have a goal yet given the ridiculous number of scoring chances he's created already in the series, and he's playing a rugged-to-the-point-of-maniacal style of game. It's like they extracted some of Marchessault's crazy/angry and injected into Drouin, and it's pretty fun to watch.

Eventually Detroit equalized the game at 2-2 with Richards scoring through a screen on the PP after another Lightning penalty. Tampa Bay ended up surrendering 5 power play opportunities on the night, and that's 2-3 more than they should feel comfortable with against a power play as good as Detroit's. Mind you, a few of those calls were of dubious quality. Specifically, the Killorn holding call to start the contest and the Boyle interference call toward the end of the Second Period were gobsmacking. The latter was so bad Pierre McGuire on the NBCSN broadcast even went so far as to sarcastically remark it was... "unique." Indeed it was. Now, mind you, the officiating was bad at both ends and the refs probably did miss an accidental high stick by Hedman on Datsyuk in the corner in the Second Period that knocked out Datsyuk's teeth. In general, I'd say the refs have called the series so bizarrely to this point that they've fostered an environment of lawlessness that led to the shenanigans you saw at the final horn.

Ultimately the Lightning deserved the win tonight and they eventually got it on a pair of well crafted goals by Tyler Johnson and his linemates. Alex Killorn added the remote control goal off the boards in his own end into the empty net to rub salt into the wound. I just thought the Lightning were just far quicker to loose pucks than Detroit tonight, which led to another night with a high volume of scoring chances, and in the process they showed tighter defense and their goaltending settled down nicely. That's a good recipe for success, and the team has to be on a high tonight considering they've only trailed for a whopping 5:22 of this series so far. There needs to be some caution, though: the old timers will tell you it's not a series until a team wins a road game in a series. The Lightning did what they were supposed to do by holding serve at Amalie to start the Quarterfinals, but it was a homer series during the regular season and the Lightning have to know they've got a tough task still ahead of them in Detroit. At some point they'll need to pick off a game up there, in all likelihood, and it'll take a heavy lift to get that done. Hopefully they can ride that momentum into Game Three and get it right away with a view toward shortening the series and lessening the effects of potential attrition on an already thinly stretched roster.

Then close your eyes and imagine what happens when/if Stamkos and Stralman can work their way back into the lineup.

Now, about that thing that happened at the end of the game...

For those who didn't see it there was a scrum at the end of the contest that kicked off when noted thug Andrej Sustr (he reps his gang, the G-G-G-raffes) got into a little shoving match in front of Bishop's cage. No big deal. The teams piled up in a scrum. Again, no big deal. That happens a zillion times in the playoffs. Guys were pulling guys off the pile and pairing off. Same old song. Then Justin Abdelkader lost his damned mind, rolled onto Mike Blunden's back while Blunden was pinned to the ice at the bottom of the pile, and started throwing about a half dozen big right hands to the back of Blunden's head. Blunden, prone and defenseless on the ice because he was pinned with his back to Abdelkader, ended up with nine stitches for cuts that either happened within the pile or from his face hitting the ice while he was getting punched in the back of the head. In any event, he was bleeding like a stuck pig by the time the refs pulled Abdelkader up off of him on a play that was just flat out an assault. Abdelkader completely, absolutely, 100% snapped. If it's the regular season, that's a suspension. No doubt in my mind. In the playoffs? I doubt he'll get more than the whopping game misconduct he got with 50-some seconds left in a game his team was losing by 3 goals (big punishment there, NHL). The guy's a dirty player, and if the league won't do something about him I hope the Lightning have a big lead in the Third Period of the closeout game and Blunden gets his chance for a little sweet revenge, because the guy has had it coming since last season. He's involved in so many sketchy plays that end up with injuries to opposing players, and he needs to answer for it. And, if it goes down like that, I'm certain whoever does settle up with Abdelkader will get a few thank you cards from other team's players too.

Box score and extended statistics from

AHL Game Night: 4-15-16 Crunch at Comets

Crunch cough up three unanswered in the Third Period.


Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the hard luck loss.

First Period
SYR Vermin, (9) (DeAngelo, Richard), 0:09

Second Period

Third Period
UTI Kenins, (5) (Hensick, Subban), 7:16 (PP)
UTI LaBate, (10) (Grenier, Gaunce), 15:20 (PP)
UTI Pedan, (7) (Bancks), 18:42 (EN/SH)

Syracuse's season continues to wind down. The good news is they're still playing hard despite the harsh reality they won't be headed to the postseason.

Box score from

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-15-16

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
CSKA 1 vs. Magnitogorsk 2 (OT)
Magnitogorsk Leads the Series 3-2
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 30/31, 0.92 GAA, .968 sv%
Playoff totals: 17 GP, 13-4-0, 3 SO, 1.53 GAA, .948 sv%
Regular season totals: 50 GP, 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%

Ex-Blue Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin scored 5:09 into Overtime to put Magnitogorsk within 1 win of their second Gagarin Cup championship in three seasons, as they defeated CSKA 2-1 in Game Five. Mozyakin also had Magnitka's other goal. After allowing a howler from center ice in a Game Three loss, netminder Vasily Koshechkin has allowed just 1 goal in the past 125+ minutes of the series.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-14-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 6 @ Charlottetown Islanders 4
QMJHL Second Round
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 4-4-8, +7, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Shawinigan won Game 5 on PEI to give the Cataractes two wins in three games in Charlottetown. They return home with a chance to clinch the series Sunday.

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