Led by Nikita Kucherov's second-straight four-point night, the Syracuse Crunch rallied past the Rochester Americans in the shootout, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Kucherov, the American Hockey League's rookie of the month, registered a pair of goals and assists, as well as a shootout goal in the Crunch's fifth-straight win. The Russian leads the league with 10 goals.
"It's great, it felt good," Kucherov said of the award. "I just need to keep working."
"He just makes a lot of plays that other guys don't," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "He sees the ice so well."
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Halifax Mooseheads 15 @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 5
C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 2-1-3, E, 5 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 11 GP, 5-14-19, +3, 8 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM
The Huskies and Mooseheads each scored four goals in the first period and Rouyn-Noranda was probably feeling fairly good about themselves. Then they allowed 11 more goals to lose, 15-5. No one on Halifax had more than two goals in the game. While some players were plus-6 and plus-7, Drouin finished even. He was 3/19 in the faceoff circle.
Quebec Remparts 1 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 4
C/W Adam Erne, QUE: 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM, 11 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 16 GP, 7-11-18, +2, 29 PIM
2012-2013 Season: 68 GP, 28-44-72, +11, 67 PIM
Quebec lost its first game in regulation in 11 contests, falling to the Foreurs, 4-1. Adam Erne was 14/26 on faceoffs.
Ontario Hockey League
North Bay Battalion 5 @ Kingston Frontenacs 1
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM
Season totals: 5 GP, 1-2-3, -1, 4 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM
Season totals: 14 GP, 7-16-23, +10, 8 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM
In a match-up of Lightning prospects, Blujus (pictured) got the better of Ikonen on the scoresheet and the scoreboard as the Battalion beat the Fronts in Kingston, 5-1. After starting the season at a torrid pace, Ikonen is scoreless in four of his last five games.
Barrie Colts 4 @ Owen Sound Attack 0
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, E, 9 PIM
Season totals: 14 GP, 3-4-7, +8, 31 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
Dotchin received a misconduct for starting a fight with Anthony DiFruscia after the final whistle of the second period. Rookie Mackenzie Blackwood, 16, had the shutout for the Colts.
The 'ovs spur an amazing Crunch comeback.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots in regulation and OT before stopping 4 of 5 in the penalty shot session for the win.
RCH Adam, (8) (McNabb, Sulzer), 3:25 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (9) (Brown, Korobov), 3:58
RCH Tardif, (2) (Varone, McNabb), 9:13 (PP)
RCH McNabb, (2) (Varone, Bagnall), 14:21
RCH Sundher, (2) (Tardif, McNabb), 6:53
SYR Kucherov, (10) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 7:52
SYR Nesterov, (1) (Namestnikov, Kucherov), 12:38 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Kucherov, Nesterov), 17:23 (PP)
SYR- Kucherov, Paquette
Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's first and second stars. As of this moment, Kucherov is 1 back of the AHL lead in points and up by 2 for the league lead in goals. Namestnikov had quietly snuck into a tie for 3rd in the AHL in scoring and, along with Kucherov, is tied with many others for 7th in the league in helpers. Nikita Nesterov also chipped in 1 goal and 1 assist and now has 1 goal and 6 points in his first 9 pro games in North America.
It took a while for the team to adjust to having J.P. Cote and Brett Connolly not in the lineup, but they continue to have an unstoppable power play and a top line that always gives them a puncher's chance in any situation. They'll head to Binghamton to play the Senators tomorrow night having now climbed to 5th in the Eastern Conference with their 5 game winning streak. Think what'll happen if they ever find consistency in the back and/or something resembling second line scoring.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Lightning solve a dilemma en route to victory.
Ben Bishop stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout. He didn't have much work until the last 5 minutes of the game when, inexplicably, the Lightning became sieve-like and were allowing the Canes to run Bishop. Shame on the skaters, and good on Bishop for keeping his goose egg in tact anyway. That there was some (U of) Maine Justice!
9:54 TB Hedman (2), (Thompson, Crombeen)
11:38 TB Stamkos (10), (Killorn, St Louis)
17:14 TB Killorn (3), (St Louis)
The Lightning managed to turn this from another clunker into something extremely positive to build on. They were flat as a pancake again in the First Period and half of the Second Period until Justin Peters decided to kick a Hedman shot that was wide off the end boards into his own net. And, then it was on, with the top line leading the way with the notable change of Alex Killorn running with the big guns instead of Ryan Malone. The impact of that change was obvious, and that should seal Malone's fate from here on out. He's too slow for the top line and that needs to be Killorn's spot. Malone needs to embrace what he is this season. I'd like to see him start to take on more of an Andreychuk-type spot with the team. Commit to being a strong checking liner. Try to get your points when you can on the PP. Let the young guys who have wheels get the big minutes.
Radko Gudas was +2 with 3 hits and 4 blocked shots in 21:08. He was much more under control in this game than against New Jersey and the results of that were obvious. He was solid as a rock tonight.
Mark Barberio had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:17. I liked the decision to spot him in this game. It gave Sustr the chance to settle down a little in the press box and Barberio a chance to get some playing time in a game where any mistakes he made weren't going to necessarily be fatal. There was bad and good. I thought the was excellent offensively in the first half of the game. Early in the Second Period, he was about the only Lightning player taking shots (had 4 blocked and 1 missed the net) and he nearly had an assist on one play in the First Period. The critique, though, is the same. He terrifies you in his own end because of how soft he is on the puck. A stiff breeze gets him off the puck clean. A stern look gets him off the puck clean. And, then, obviously there's the issue of the two penalties taken in a close game. It was his best game of the year so far, in my opinion, but there's still considerable room for improvement.
Tyler Johnson had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot and was 30% on draws in 15:26. He was guilty of overpassing in the First Period. It's just that simple. He's got one of the best shots on the team. If I had his shot, you couldn't stop me from shooting the puck. I'd start shooting the puck from the parking lot. I'd be shooting pucks from the bench. There's be pucks going on net from the restroom in the intermission. If I had a shot as good as Johnson's, there's nothing in the world that would make me give up a clean look and pass it off. He's got to get greedier.
Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 3 shots and 1 hit. 3 takeaways for Killorn, too. That spot on the top line needs to be his. Period. The discussion ended tonight.
Ondrej Palat had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:04. That's a great stat line for a guy that didn't seem to do much other than squander a 2-on-1 shorthanded in the First Period with Johnson.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:01. My thought was Cooper's decision to put him on the fourth line was an attempt to get Panik to play chippier. One of the problems with Panik's game so far is he's not being the instigator he was at times in the AHL. Ultimately, it doesn't pay that Richard looks like a Bond villain if he plays like a Bond girl. Unfortunately, I didn't see that edge. He's lucky Connolly didn't set the world on fire tonight, but the Lightning have his spot under the microscope. They have to.
Astana 3 vs. Ufa 2
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, DNP
Season totals: 12 GP, 7-3-2, 0 SO, 2.43 GAA, .916 sv%
Andrey Vasilevskiy sat backup in Ufa's 3-2 loss to Astana. Astana was led by a pair of goals from former Lightning forward Brandon Bochenski, his 13th and 14th of the season. For those who missed it, it was also announced Ufa will loan Andrey Vasilevskiy to Russia's U20 WJC team this winter.
Khanty-Mansiysk 3 vs. Chelyabinsk 4 (OT)
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, DNP
Season totals: 17 GP, 2-2-4, -4, 2 PIM
Nikita Gusev was again out of the lineup in Yugra's 4-3 overtime loss to Traktor Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk was led by 2 goals and 3 points from Caps first rounder Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Ekaterinburg 5 vs. Magnitogorsk 4 (SO)
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, SO Loss, 9/11, 5.37 GAA, .818 sv%
Season totals: 21 GP, 12-5-3, 2 SO, 2.27 GAA, .926 sv%
Vasily Koshechkin was lifted after allowing 2 goals and then reinserted for the second shooter in the shootout session, which he stopped, in Magnitogorsk's 5-4 SO loss to Ekaterinburg. Bizarre use of the goaltenders. Ekaterinburg got a goal from captain and former Lightning defenseman Sergey Gusev. Danis Zaripov had a hat trick in defeat for Magnitogorsk.
St. Petersburg 4 vs. Bratislava 2
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, 25/29, 4.00 GAA, .862 sv%
Season totals: 12 GP, 5-7-0, 1 SO, 2.99 GAA, .883 sv%
Ex-NHLer Alexei Ponikarovsky had 1 goal and 3 points to help lead St. Petersburg to a 4-2 win over Slovan Bratislava. Ilya Kovalchuk also had a helper in the contest for SKA.