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NHL Game Night: 1-7-18 Lightning at Red Wings

The Dominguenator drinks a tall glass of sweet, sweet Red Wing tears.

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Louis Domingue allowed just 2 goals on 36 shots for this first victory in the Lightning uniform. Thought he played a simple, efficient game. He made some really important situational saves on a 2-on-0, on a partial breakaway, and on a pair of 5-on-3 scenarios and just bought time for the Lightning skaters to get some opportunistic goals.

First Period
8:56 TB Girardi (3), (Namestnikov, Gourde)
14:11 TB Johnson (13), (Girardi, Palat)

Second Period
3:10 DET Nyquist (14), (Bertuzzi, Zetterberg)
19:00 TB Gourde (13), (Killorn, Namestnikov)

Third Period
3:06 DET Abdelkader (7), (Mantha)
13:42 TB Kucherov (27), (Stamkos)
16:05 TB Gourde (14), (Palat)

Yanni Gourde and Dan Girardi were the game's first and third stars. Domingue was robbed.

That wasn't a Picasso. At times in the Second Period it wasn't even Dogs Playing Poker. But, under the circumstances, that's a big character win for the Lightning under some harsh circumstances. They'd been challenged by their coach after last night's debacle in Ottawa. They were playing the fresher team and were on the downside of a back-to-back. And, contrary to the crying from the Detroit side of the aisle, the refs in this game were borderline ridiculous giving the Wings a pair of 5-on-3's and ignoring a plethora of infractions by the Wings. Detroit also tried to goon this one up at times and were really taking runs and the Lightning and I thought Tampa Bay's smallish forwards showed a lot of bravery and really answered the bell when challenged. Brayden Point bloodied Dylan Larkin for boarding linemate Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde beat the tar out of Tomas Tatar and, I think, sent a message that while these weren't big heavyweight bouts these little guys are not going to be taken advantage of. And the Lightning were opportunistic, even scoring the big insurance marker on the rare clean offensive faceoff zone win. Ten straight wins over Detroit are sweet, really sweet.

Having been a captive to the Detroit broadcast tonight, I could write a novella about what I think about how they comported themselves tonight. Rather than do that though, I'll point something out to their producers. Your franchise's struggles against the Lightning began almost the exact moment you hired Darren Eliot off the Atlanta Thrasher-Jets bread line. Coincidence?

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:56.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1-7-18 Crunch at Bruins

Comeback Crunch sweep the weekend.

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Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the victory.

First Period
0:17 SYR Bournival (10), (Erne, Thomas)
12:51 PRO Beleskey (3), (Cave, Cross)
14:31 SYR Peca (8), (Joseph, Walcott)

Second Period
4:36 PRO Cehlarik (5), (Karlsson, Cross)
12:50 PRO Bjork (2), (O'Gara, Karlsson)(PP)

Third Period
3:48 SYR Stephens (10), (Verhaeghe)
7:26 SYR Erne (10), (Lynch)

Adam Erne and Matthew Peca were the game's first and third stars. Both Erne and fellow winger Mitchell Stephens potted their 10th goals of the season. Stephens has 4 goals in the past 3 games and appears to be yet another forward throwing their resume on Steve Yzerman's desk for a second half cup of coffee with Tampa Bay.

With the win, at this hour, the Crunch have clearly separated from the pack behind them and sit on an island in third place in the North Divison 6 points up on Laval and 8 points up on Utica. They sit a full 7 points behind second place Rochester and 9 back of first place Toronto, although they hold a game in hand on the Americans and two games in hand on the Marlies.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 1-6-18

UMass Minutemen 3 @ UMass-Lowell River Hawks 8

C Ryan Lohin, UML: 2-2-4, +4, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals: 21 GP, 7-13-20, +2, 22 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 41 GP, 12-17-29, +10, 14 PIM

UML put a snowman on the board against rival UMass, led by Lohin's two shorthanded goals and two assists. Lohin is tied for third in Hockey East scoring, one point behind two leaders. He is 7+7 in the conference. He is tied for sixth overall among Hockey East players in all games.

Maine Black Bears 3 @ Boston University Terriers 0

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 8 GP, 0-1-1, E, 8 PIM
’17-’18 Totals Totals: 36 GP, 2-5-7, +8, 30 PIM

BU fell to 6-7-1 in Hockey East and 8-11-1 overall.

No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 0 @ No. 6 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 7

D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Loss, 25 saves on 32 shots
Season Totals: 6 GP, 1-2-1, 4.12 GAA, .867 sv%, 0 SO
’16-‘17 Totals: 10 GP, 5-3-1, 3.38 GAA, .895 sv%, 0 SO

Yikes. Oldham felt the wrath of UND, who avenged an upset loss to UNO on Friday with a blowout win Saturday. Oldham had been creeping up to the .900 save percentage mark, but now it's back down among the worst in the conference. His starter, Evan Weninger, is the worst in the NCHC at 4.42 and .867. Technically Oldham hasn't played enough to qualify.

No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers 2 @ No. 1 St. Cloud State Huskies 5

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, UMN: 0-0-0, -4, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 23 GP, 0-8-8, -3, 32 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 37 GP, 2-3-5, +11, 35 PIM

Zuhlsdorf and the Gophers fell to Nicklaus Perbix's future school (top-ranked SCSU) Saturday, 5-2. Zuhlsdorf was a team-worst minus-4. The teams play again Sunday.

*USCHO poll used for rankings

Juniors Game Night: 1-6-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Halifax Mooseheads 5 @ St. John’s Sea Dogs (OT1)

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 17/28 FO
Season Totals: 32 GP, 12-30-42, +24, 14 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM

The Mooseheads fell behind 3-1 on the road in St. John’s in the 1st, but managed to take a 4-3 lead early in the 3rd on Brett Crossley’s (undrafted) 2nd goal of the game. St. John’s rookie Radim Salda, fresh back from the Czech Republic WJC team, knotted the score 4-4 just 48 seconds later, and the two teams would end regulation tied. Raphael Lavoie (2019 draft eligible) would score the OT game winner for Halifax almost two minutes into the extras session. Connor Moynihan (undrafted) notched 3 assists on the night for the Mooseheads.

Ontario Hockey League

** Note: Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie) and Taylor Raddysh (Sault Ste. Marie) are away from their respective OHL teams for the 2018 WJC tournament. Raddysh (pictured) was traded today by Erie to Sault Ste. Marie along with Jordan Sambrook (DET, 2016 5th round pick) in exchange for 16 year old Hayden Fowler and nine OHL draft picks.

Kingston Frontenacs 6 @ Barrie Colts 4

W Alexey Lipanov, BAR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 4/15 FO
Season Totals: 35 GP, 11-18-29, +9, 10 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals (VHL-Russia): 21 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 8 PIM

Aaron Luchuk (OTT, FA) scored twice in the 1st period to give the Colts a 3-2 lead at the first intermission, but it was mostly the Frontenacs the last 40 minutes of the match. Kingston got a hat trick and four points from Cliff Pu (BUF, 2016 3rd round pick), and two more goals from Linus Nyman (2018 draft eligible). Jason Robertson (DAL, 2017 2nd round pick) would notch an impressive 5 assists on the night for the Frontenacs. A night after going 50% on draw, Lipanov won just a quarter of his draws against Kingston. The Colts have now dropped three straight.

Peterborough Petes 2 @ Ottawa 67’s 3

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 9/15 FO
Season Totals: 35 GP, 10-4-14, -22, 8 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (NIA/PBO): 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

Pavel Gogolev (2018 draft eligible) and Nick Isaacson (undrafted) both scored 2nd period goals to give the Petes a 2-1 lead, but the 67’s would score two of their own to squeak the 3-2 win, and relegate the Petes to the cellar in the East Division and 1-8-1 record in their last 10 games.

Western Hockey League

** Note: Brett Howden (Moose Jaw) and Cal Foote (Kelowna) are away from their respective WHL teams for the 2018 WJC tournament.

Kootenay Ice 2 @ Saskatoon Blades 4

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 33 GP, 8-16-24, -10, 26 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 65 GP: 4-22-26, -17, 81 PIM

Hajek returned to action with the Blades after a breakout WJCs tournament for the Czech blueliner. Gage Ramsey (undrafted) scored twice and added an assist for the Saskatoon, as the Blades doubled up the Ice.

Moose Jaw Warriors 7 @ Edmonton Oil Kings 2

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 41 GP, 7-10-17, +29, 44 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

The Oil Kings knotted the game 2-2 less than a minute left in the 1st period, but the Warriors poured on 5 goals in the 2nd and 3rd to run away with the game. Justin Almeida (undrafted) scored twice for Moose Jaw and Jayden Halbgewachs (undrafted) scored shorthanded and on the power play extending his WHL goal scoring lead. WHL points and assist leader Brayden Burke (undrafted) had 3 assists for the Warriors.

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserved on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament.

Omaha Lancers 4 @ Tri-City Storm 1

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 22 GP, 0-11-11, +12, 10 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Christian O’Neill (Princeton commit) scored twice for the Lancers as Omaha scored twice in the 1st and twice in the 2nd for the road win over the Storm.

NHL Game Night: 1-6-18 Lightning at Senators

Sloppy Lightning embarrass themselves in Ottawa.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 33 shots for the loss. I was surprised Cooper didn't pull him to try to spark the team after a disgraceful First Period where they played so poorly in front of him. They finally ran into a night where Andrei didn't bail them out from their biggest mistakes.

First Period
4:48 OTT Dzingel (12), (Stone)
5:51 OTT Duchene (10), (Ryan)
17:04 OTT Smith (4), (Karlsson, Oduya)

Second Period
0:26 TB Hedman (5), (unassisted)
1:41 TB Koekkoek (4), (Kucherov, Killorn)
15:57 TB Gourde (12), (Sergachev, Johnson)(PP)

Third Period
10:44 OTT Stone (17), (Brassard, Chabot)
14:57 OTT Pageau (6), (Karlsson)
17:08 OTT Dzingel (13), (Karlsson, Stone)

When you gift a team, no matter how low they are in the standings, goals off of stupid mistakes, you can get embarrassed like this. The self-inflicted wounds tonight were numerous, including horrible turnovers that led to Ottawa's first goal and game winning goal and a clean faceoff loss that yielded Ottawa's back breaking insurance goal. There's your margin of victory right there. All things the Lightning could've controlled.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:19. Made a dynamite shot joining the play late to score the second goal for the Lightning. All-in-all did nothing to hurt the case for more games.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 16:31. He was only 14% on 7 draws, though. I don't think the Lightning are using Gourde to his highest and best by playing him at center, and if the Lightning could acquire a third line center and move Gourde back to wing, I think they'd get some nice results out of it. Tonight was Gourde's 41st game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 20:51. Pretty awful start to the game with the turnover that immediately spotted Ottawa a goal. I'm thinking he might want to burn the tape of this one.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper on the goal that tied the game, but was an ugly -4 with 2 penalty minutes to go with 3 shots and 3 hits in 15:59. He also graduated from prospect status on the website in tonight's game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-6-18 Crunch at Wolf Pack

Crunch hang on for tough road win.

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Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 33 shots for the victory including stopping all 16 shots he faced in the critical final frame including a penalty shot. With Domingue up with the big club, the Ingram era in Syracuse has started off well so far.

First Period
6:04 SYR Yan (6), (Peca, Walcott)

Second Period
2:49 HFD Whitney (8), (Kosmachuk, Gilmour)(PP)
4:20 HFD Gropp (8), (Tambellini)
16:11 SYR Condra (5), (Bodie, Lynch)
17:39 SYR Stephens (9), (Cernak, Volkov)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Mitchell Stephens and Ingram were the game's first and second stars. Don't look now, but Stephens has the sneakiest 9 goals of any rookie in the league, including 3 in his last couple of games.

We've said it before: all Dennis Yan does is score.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 1-5-18

Vermont Catamounts 0 @ UMass-Lowell River Hawks 6

C Ross Colton, UVM: 0-0-0, E, - PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 19 GP, 11-2-13, -13, 24 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 33 GP, 12-15-27, E, 22 PIM

C Ryan Lohin, UML: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 20 GP, 5-11-16, -2, 22 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 41 GP, 12-17-29, +10, 14 PIM

UML squashed visiting Vermont Friday, 6-0. Lohin was only able to contribute an assist, but he's likely not complaining after a big win.

No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 4 @ No. 6 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 1

D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Did not play
Season Totals: 5 GP, 1-1-1, 3.32 GAA, .892 sv%, 0 SO
’16-‘17 Totals: 10 GP, 5-3-1, 3.38 GAA, .895 sv%, 0 SO

Oldham didn't play in UNO's upset win, so the wait continues to rejoin his climb to a .900 save percentage this year.

*USCHO poll used for rankings

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 1-5-18

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Bronze Medal Game
Czech Republic 3 vs USA 9

D Libor Hajek, CZE: 0-1-1, -5, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *CZE Player of the Game*
Tournament Totals: 7 GP, 1-7-8, E, 6 PIM, 14 SOG

Hajek notched an assist on the Czech Republic’s first goal of the game, a power play marker by Martin Kaut just 43 seconds into the 3rd period. Unfortunately, by the time the Czech’s scored, the USA already had a 7-0 lead. Despite a -5 rating for the game, Hajek was named the Player of the Game for the Czech team, his second such honor of the tournament along with being named one of the Czech team’s Three Players of the Tournament. Hajek, along with Canada’s Cale Makar (COL, 2017 1st round pick) led all defensemen in the tourney in points, and he led the Czech team in ice time, after being left off last year’s WJC squad for CZE.

Wisconsin Badger Trent Fredric (BOS, 2016 1st round pick) paced the USA team on their way to Bronze with four goals, including the trifecta of shorthanded, power play, and even strength goals. Once again, the Czechs played a tight 1st period, but allowed critical let downs to balloon. The Czechs allowed the shortie from Fredric with 4 seconds remaining in the 1st to go into intermission down 1-0, and then allowed a Ryan Poehling (MTL, 2017 1st round pick) tally just 9 seconds into the 2nd period followed by a Joey Anderson goal 4 minutes later. After a goalie change, the Czech team allowed Fredric’s 2nd goal of the game 90 seconds later, and then Hajek got called for a penalty shot on a hooking call, with Kieffer Bellows (NYI, 2016 1st round pick) converting for his first of two goals in the game. Two more goals by Fredric and Bellows before the end of the period and the USA caps off a 6-goal middle frame. The Czechs got 3 goals in the 3rd by Kaut, Radovan Pavlik (undrafted), and Daniel Kurovsky (undrafted), but by then the game was well out of reach.

Gold Medal Game
Sweden 1 @ Canada 3

F Taylor Raddysh , CAN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament Totals: 7 GP, 2-3-5, +5, 4 PIM, 16 SOG

F Boris Katchouk, CAN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament Totals: 7 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 4 PIM, 12 SOG

F Brett Howden , CAN: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament Totals: 7 GP, 3-4-7, +9, 4 PIM, 15 SOG

D Cal Foote, CAN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament Totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 0 PIM, 2 SOG

Carter Hart (PHI, 2016 2nd round pick) made 35 saves, backstopping Canada to Gold in a 3-1 win over the Sweden. Canada got goals from Dillion Dube (CGY, 2016 2nd round pick) and Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick), with Alex Formenton (OTT, 2017 2nd round pick) adding an empty netter at the end. The game was evenly matched with the difference being the heads-up sharp laser pass by Conor Timmins (COL, 2017 2nd round pick) to Steenbergen in the slot for his first and only goal in the tournament. Sweden’s lone goal came shorthanded in the 2nd to knot the game at 1-1 by Tim Soderlund (CHI, 2017 4th round pick).

Juniors Game Night: 1-5-18

Western Hockey League

** Note: Brett Howden (Moose Jaw), Cal Foote (Kelowna), and Libor Hajek (Saskatoon) are away from their respective WHL teams for the 2018 WJC tournament.

Moose Jaw Warriors 5 @ Calgary Hitmen 3

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 40 GP, 7-10-17, +29, 42 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

The Warriors had the game in hand by the 2nd intermission, up 4-0 on the Hitmen, but took their foot off the gas a little and Calgary made it interested with three 3rd period goals of their own. Tanner Jeannot (undrafted) lead the way for Moose Jaw with two goals and an assist, while Riley Stotts (2018 draft eligible) and Layne Toder (undrafted) led the rally for Calgary.

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserved on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament.

Waterloo Black Hawks 2 @ Omaha Lancers 3 (0T1)

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 21 GP, 0-11-11, +11, 10 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Perbix got the primary assist on the OT game-winner by Czech pivot Filip Suchy (undrafted), who scored all three of the Lancers’ goals. Omaha got a pair of assists from wingers Noah Cates (PHI, 2017 5th round pick) and Cole Gallant (Western Michigan commit). Harvard bound Jack Drury (2018 draft eligible) scored both of Waterloo’s goals with Jackson Cates (Minnesota-Duluth commit) earning assists on both Black Hawks scores.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

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