Down to the wire.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the OT victory. The stat line was ugly, but the Devils got some puck luck in this game, and Ben made the toe save of the game on Cammalleri late in the Third to keep the Lightning alive.
5:06 NJ Bernier (15), (Henrique, Gomez)(PP)
6:26 TB Johnson (28), (Kucherov, Palat)
9:13 TB Nesterov (2), (Johnson, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 NJ Elias (13), (Gionta)
17:42 TB Stamkos (43), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)
17:58 NJ Bernier (16), (Henrique, Gomez)
1:22 TB Johnson (29), (Kucherov, Palat)(PP)
Honestly, I wasn't that upset with the effort, even though it took OT for the Lightning to dispose of New Jersey. The Devils got some favorable bounces on blocked shots, etc., but for the most part the Lightning controlled this game, outshooting their opponent 31-24. My only disappointment was the mental let downs after goals scored, but that's correctable. The bright side was that the power play went 3-for-8 and continues to pile up some goals over the last couple of weeks. If the Lightning can muster a power play in the playoffs, they may be unbeatable. That's a big if, mind you.
Unfortunately, Montreal beat Detroit in OT, so Montreal would have to lose in regulation in their finale against Toronto for the Lightning to have a chance to take the Atlantic Division. If they win the division, they could face Ottawa, Pittsburgh, or the Islanders in the first round. Should Tampa Bay stay in the Atlantic second seed spot, which is more likely, they'll probably get Detroit, although Ottawa could still nudge past the Wings at the tape.
The Lightning's finale is a tantalizing opportunity to give a team they've traditionally had difficulty with an early trip to the golf course. Boston lost to Florida tonight, so they cannot get into the Atlantic three seed, and any type of loss, regulation or OT, and Boston is done like dinner. My 2 cents: the Lightning should relish this opportunity to put Boston away now rather than potentially having to do it in some sort of 7 game series somewhere down the line. Put them into an early grave, I say.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots. He looks ticketed for a return to Syracuse with Andrej Sustr on track to possibly return for the Boston tilt. I'm thinking Luke's experience from this callup will allow him to focus his offseason attention on sharpening up some aspects of his game like handling and distributing the puck that he could get even more efficient at in order to become a regular NHLer. He's not quite there yet, but he's not a glaring liability, either. That next step's got to come, and I think it comes in the form of being a little bit less of a "hot potato" guy on the puck.
Nikita Nesterov had a goal and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:06. He changes the complexion of the Lightning's second PP unit with his shoot-first mentality, and the experience he's gained with the Lightning's injury issues will only benefit the squad in the form of reliable depth when other injuries happen in the playoffs. It's nice to know Nesterov can step up and play some quality minutes if necessary.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Cam Darcy to a three-year, two-way contract for the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, Darcy has signed an AHL amateur try out contract to play the remainder of the 2014-15 season with the Syracuse Crunch.
Darcy, 21, skated in 56 games during the 2014-15 season, splitting time between the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording 21 goals and 59 points to go along with 48 penalty minutes. The South Boston, Massachusetts native joined the Phoenix mid-way through the season and posted 20 goals and 45 points in 37 games with the club. Darcy also skated in six QMJHL playoff games with Sherbrooke, posting five goals and nine points. He led all Phoenix skaters for playoff goals and points.
The 6-foot, 183-pound forward has played in 121 QMJHL games over the past two seasons with Sherbrooke and Cape Breton, registering 56 goals and 141 points to go along with 99 penalty minutes. Darcy has also skated in 10 career postseason games, recording six goals and 12 points.
Ontario Hockey League
Western Conference Semifinals
West-4 Guelph Storm 4 @ West-1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 7
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
[i]D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-3-3, E, 0 PIM]
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 0-10-10, +6, 8 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM
The Soo drew first blood in their conference semifinal series with Guelph, winning 7-4 Wednesday night. Anthony DeAngelo had three helpers to give him seven in his last two games. All three assists in Game 1 were primary assists and two were on the power play. Game 2 is Thursday.
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 8, 2015 is … Adam Erne, W/C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL – Canada).
It’s Tuesday night, Game 7, and fourth-seeded Quebec is trying to avoid an embarrassing upset to Cape Breton. Adam Erne’s Remparts are down 2-0 late in the first period before the Lightning’s 2013 second round pick starts a play that finishes with the puck in the back of the Eagles’ net to cut their lead to 2-1 with eight seconds left before intermission.
The original 2-0 lead flips to 4-2 for the Remparts by the end of the second so the lead isn’t considered secure by any means. Erne scores at 1:18, prompting an exuberant Remparts play-by-play announcer to scream “Big Ern!”
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
QMJHL-13 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 3 @ QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 6
Quebec wins best-of-7 series, 4-3
W Adam Erne, QUE: 2-1-3, +3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 8/10 FO, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 6-2-8, +1, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM
Adam Erne scored two goals for the second straight game, helping the Remparts to a 6-3 Game 7 win at home over the Eagles. Quebec was down 2-0 until the waning seconds of the first period when they scored (Erne assist), then scored three more times in the second period and once early in the third to take a 6-2 lead. The Remparts avoided the upset and now take on Charlottetown in the quarterfinals. Quebec moves up to the third seed now that Blainville-Boisbriand -- Cedric Paquette's former team -- was upset in the first round. The top two seeds are Rimouski and Moncton.