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NHL Game Night: 3-31-16 Canadiens at Lightning

Lightning dying on the vine after Stralman injury.

MTL-3
TB-0

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the loss. A lesser goaltender gives up 4 goals with the amount of turnovers and poor gap control the Lightning defense had tonight.

First Period
9:11 MTL Desharnais(10), (Andrighetto, Emelin)

Second Period
0:52 MTL Mitchell(10), (Pateryn, Emelin)

Third Period
17:32 MTL Danauly(4), (Mitchell)(EN)

Steven Stamkos was the game's third star.

The Lightning just look like a hot mess without their top four defensemen in tact. It was that way when Garrison was hurt recently, and it's even worse at the moment without Stralman. The new pairings look disjointed and the team is having to play certain players bigger minutes that simply cannot handle it. Matt Carle should to be playing over 23 minutes a night in the NHL anymore like he did tonight. And, tonight, it became glaringly obvious that Stralman is the glue that holds the Lightning together in terms of gap control. He was the one Lightning defender who routinely stepped up at his blueline. Tonight, you had the Lightning retreating off their own blueline all the way down to the top of the circles, which resulted in the early goal by Mitchell in the Second Period that was tonight's soul-crushing gut punch.

With Florida winning tonight, the Lightning fall out of first place in the Atlantic Division. With 3 games left in the 10-game segment of the season, they still need at least 3 points, although the SunSports team pointed out their "virtual" magic number is 4. Either way, this team would have a hard time not at least backing into the playoffs. The issue for the last 5 games of the regular season, though, is figuring out pairings and a minute rotation on defense that actually looks cohesive and doesn't play like a train wreck destined to get bounced out in the first round. Three games into life without Stralman, they clearly haven't found that formula yet, and time is running out.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 3 shots in 14:27. He surrendered at least 2 Grade A chances that Bishop had to bail him out on with turnovers and poor positioning. It'll be a learning process with Slater, but I don't see another defenseman on the roster who, athletically, can grow into bigger minutes the way that Slater can unless the finally make the decision to give Hedman every other shift.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-31-16

KHL Eastern Conference Finals
(2)Magnitogorsk 3 vs. (4)Ufa 2 (OT)
Magnitogorsk Wins the Series 4-1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 28/30, 1.48 GAA, .933 sv%
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 10-2-0, 2 SO, 1.45 GAA, .951 sv%
Regular season totals: 50 GP, 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%

Ex-Panthers pick Yaroslov Kosov scored 1:37 into Second OT to send Magnitogorsk to the Gagarin Cup Final by virtue of a 3-2 Game Five win over Ufa. Ex-NHLer Alexander Semin also had a pair of helpers in the win. Ex-Blue Jackets pick Maxim Mayorov had a goal for Ufa in defeat.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 60

This week’s “José Théodore Bank Shot” extended version of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· No. 60
· Lightning vs Maple Marlies
· Fennelly calls out Cooper
· Give me Bishop or give me death
· Syracuse making a run, but Drouin just a puzzle piece
· Junior playoffs (We see you, Mathieu Joseph)
· Interview with the newest member of the Lightning organization, Ben Thomas
· #BPMailbag (Koekkoek being Drouinned? … Does TB get out of first round sans Stalman? … Draft philosophy change necessary? … Drouin to Colorado?)

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Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 3-25-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Acadie-Bathurst Titan 6
QMJHL First Round
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM, 0 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 0-1-1, -3, 4 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

The Titan staved off elimination with a 6-3 win Wednesday. Daniil Miromanov, who went undrafted last draft, had four goals for Acadie-Bathurst. Game 5 is Friday in Saint John.

Shawinigan Cataractes 3 @ Sherbrooke Phoenix 2 (2OT)
QMJHL First Round
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM, 9 SOG, 5 Hits
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 2-2-4, +4, 12 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

The Cataractes forced overtime with a goal midway through the third period, then won it in the second overtime session to take a 3-1 series lead. Yan (pictured) was among team leaders in shots and hits. Game 5 is Friday in Shawinigan.

Ontario Hockey League

Kitchener Rangers 4 @ Windsor Spitfires 5 (OT)
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Kitchener leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 16-26-42, +15, 105 PIM

Windsor won a back-and-forth game with a power play goal in overtime to stay alive in the OHL playoffs. The Rangers led 2-0 before Jets prospect Brandon Lemieux (Claude’s son) scored three times in the second period. Windsor added another to go up 4-2 before Kitchener came storming back. Undrafted overager Bradley Latour won it in overtime with his second goal of the game. Game 5 is Friday back in Kitchener.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 3-29-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 7 @ Acadie-Bathurst Titan 1
QMJHL First Round
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 3-0-3, +3, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 Hit, *First Star*
Playoff totals: 2 GP, 2-1-3, +2, 4 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Mathieu Joseph scored three times and was first star as Saint John moved to within one win of eliminating the Titan from the playoffs. Joseph scored on the power play, shorthanded, and at even strength. Boko Imama added his first point of the playoffs. The Sea Dogs can close out the Titan on Wednesday.

Shawinigan Cataractes 8 @ Sherbrooke Phoenix 3
QMJHL First Round
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-2-3, +3, 4 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 2-2-4, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Yan has started the playoffs like he started the regular season – on the scoresheet. He had a goal and two helpers Tuesday as Shawinigan pulled ahead of Sherbrooke in the series, 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday.

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 5 @ Oshawa Generals 4
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Kingston leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 15/34 FO, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 61 GP, 21-36-57, -16, 27 PIM

After getting blown out in the first and second games of the series, Oshawa fought hard in Game 3, holding two leads and tying the game at 15:55 of the third period, only to see the Fronts win it with 24 seconds left in regulation on a goal by former General Michael Dal Colle (Islanders). Kingston can close out the series Thursday.

North Bay Battalion 6 @ Peterborough Petes 7 (OT)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 57 GP, 8-32-40, +24, 50 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 5-19-24, +1, 46 PIM

Former Markham Waxer Jonathan Ang (2016) scored at 4:46 of overtime to lift the Petes to a 7-6 win and 2-1 series lead over North Bay. The Battalion scored twice in the second half of the third period to force overtime. Dominik Masin had two assists for Peterborough.

Western Hockey League

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 5 @ Oshawa Generals 4
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Kingston leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 15/34 FO, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 61 GP, 21-36-57, -16, 27 PIM

After getting blown out in the first and second games of the series, Oshawa fought hard in Game 3, holding two leads and tying the game at 15:55 of the third period, only to see the Fronts win it with 24 seconds left in regulation on a goal by former General Michael Dal Colle (Islanders). Kingston can close out the series Thursday.

Kitchener Rangers 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 1
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Kitchener leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 16-26-42, +15, 105 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

After giving up big leads in Games 1 and 2, fifth-seeded Windsor couldn’t muster more than a goal past Dawson Carty (undrafted) and now find themselves in a 3-0 hole to fourth-seeded Kitchener. Cristiano DiGiacinto had an assist for Windsor, his first point of the series. Game 4 is Wednesday.

North Bay Battalion 6 @ Peterborough Petes 7 (OT)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 57 GP, 8-32-40, +24, 50 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 5-19-24, +1, 46 PIM

Former Markham Waxer Jonathan Ang (2016) scored at 4:46 of overtime to lift the Petes to a 7-6 win and 2-1 series lead over North Bay. The Battalion scored twice in the second half of the third period to force overtime. Dominik Masin had two assists for Peterborough.

Saginaw Spirit 3 @ Erie Otters 7
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 8/24 FO
Playoff totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -4, 0 PIM
Season totals: 39 GP, 20-19-39, -3, 14 PIM

Erie had a 5-0 lead Friday before the midway point of the second period, and on Sunday it was 4-0. Saginaw is trying, but simply isn’t in Erie’s class. 2016 draft prospect Alex DeBrincat had a goal and two assists for the Otters. Game 3 is Tuesday in Michigan.

Western Hockey League

Prince Albert Raiders 0 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 7
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Moose Jaw leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-3-3, +3, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 2-6-8, +1, 6 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM

The Warriors went up 3-1 on Prince Albert with a 7-0 shellacking of the Raiders Tuesday. Panthers prospect Dryden Hunt had a three goals and an assist for Moose Jaw.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-29-16

KHL Eastern Conference Finals
(4)Ufa 1 vs. (2)Magnitogorsk 3
Magnitogorsk Leads the Series 3-1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 31/32, 1.00 GAA, .969 sv%
Playoff totals: 11 GP, 9-2-0, 2 SO, 1.44 GAA, .953 sv%
Regular season totals: 50 GP, 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%

Ex-NHLers Alexander Semin and Wojtek Wolski each contributed goals for Magnitogorsk in their 3-1 Game Three victory over Ufa. Magnitka is now 1 win away from advancing to the Gagarin Cup Final to face CSKA.

Thomas Quickly Settling In With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

It took a shift or two, but Ben Thomas’ nerves subsided.

Less than a week after signing his entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 19-year-old defenseman made his professional debut with the Syracuse Crunch in a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans Saturday.

Thomas has quickly settled in on the Crunch’s blue line.

“I was a little nervous going in, obviously, but I thought after I got that first shift out of the way and felt the puck a little bit I settled down,” Thomas said. “I think it went pretty smoothly.”

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 3-28-16

Ontario Hockey League

Kitchener Rangers 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 1
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Kitchener leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 16-26-42, +15, 105 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

After giving up big leads in Games 1 and 2, fifth-seeded Windsor couldn’t muster more than a goal past Dawson Carty (undrafted) and now find themselves in a 3-0 hole to fourth-seeded Kitchener. Cristiano DiGiacinto had an assist for Windsor, his first point of the series. Game 4 is Wednesday.

Western Hockey League

Prince Albert Raiders 7 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 3
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Moose Jaw leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-1-1, -3, 4 PIM
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 2-3-5, -2, 4 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM

Prince Albert got back in the series in a big way, winning 7-3 on the road in Game 3 to cut the Warriors’ series lead to 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday.

NHL Game Night: 3-28-16 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Bishop willing hapless, Stralman-less Lightning over the regular season finish line.

TOR-0
TB-3

Ben Bishop stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout victory, and the customary meting of U of Maine Justice. You won't find a finer performance by a goaltender anywhere in Lightning history than what Bishop turned in tonight. Puppa and Khabibulin probably each turned in a game or two that were as good as that, but none better. He carried the Lightning on his back tonight.

First Period
7:34 TB Blunden(3), (Condra, Hedman)
14:29 TB Palat(15), (Stamkos, Garrison)

Second Period
6:38 TB Hedman(8), (Stamkos, Condra)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Bishop, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

For a second straight game the Lightning had to go without Anton Stralman and Nikita Kucherov, and for a second straight game the Lightning looked a bit lost and befuddled. The difference tonight was that the Toronto Marlies are barely a NHL caliber team and Ben Bishop re-routed power to the deflector shields all night long. Hopefully tonight was the last without Kucherov in the lineup and, over time, the team's defensemen will hit their stride without Stralman. But, for the moment, it's pretty awful. Erik Condra is playing on Steven Stamkos' line. That's how awful.

With 4 games left to go in the final 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning cut the magic number to 3 points, and they move into a tie in points with Florida, although the Panthers hold a game in hand in the race for the Atlantic Division title. The Lightning just have to grind out a couple of more wins as soon as possible, lock in their playoff position, and then spend their time getting their defensive pairings in order for the postseason.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-28-16

KHL Western Conference Finals
(6)St. Petersburg 1 vs. (1)CSKA 2 (OT)
CSKA Wins the Series 4-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 5-9-14, -2, 0 PIM
Regular season totals: 56 GP, 20-29-49, +15, 14 PIM

Nikita Gusev played just 3 shifts and 2:32 in SKA's 2-1 OT loss to CSKA. CSKA advances to the Gagarin Cup Final by virtue of the sweep. Ex-Blues pick Sergei Andronov scored the OT winner 1:02 into the extra session. Nikita Gusev signed an extension with SKA during the regular season and is expected to stay in the KHL next season with the club.

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