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NHL Game Night: 12-23-19 Panthers at Lightning

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmagnificent.

FLA-1
TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. I didn't think he looked completely comfortable for the duration of the game, but he also faced so few quality chances that it hardly mattered.

First Period
0:41 TB Point (14), (Cernak, Kucherov)
15:06 TB Hedman (8), (Point, Palat)
18:03 TB Sergachev (6), (Palat)(PP)

Second Period
2:47 FLA Huberdeau (14), (Ekblad, Trocheck)(PP)
5:53 TB Killorn (11), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)
9:52 TB Kucherov (13), (Point, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
18:05 TB Hedman (9), (Kucherov, Point)

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

Lord knows I've seen A LOT of Lightning/Panthers games going all the way back to the two teams' original confrontation at Thunderdome, and I don't think I've ever seen more comprehensive domination than what I saw tonight. Do the Lightning beat the Panthers? Like a drum? Often. Do they beat them up in the process too, though? Now that was something different and special. And, above all, the defensive effort was equally fantastic. I mean, point blank, they emasculated the Florida Panthers. They're back to what Phil Esposito originally tried to gloss them as: the Pussy Cats. There hasn't been a hell of a lot to love about a very mediocre season to date, but wow, tonight was a satisfying treat.

The Lightning pull to within one point of the Pussy Cats and Sabres with games in hand on both teams and those teams tied for third in the division. The Lightning also have some winnable division matchups coming up against Montreal, Buffalo, and Detroit coming up. Suffice it to say, if the team's going to make a push now's the time.

Carter Verheaghe had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:07.

Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:56. He was also 46% on 13 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-21-19 Lightning at Capitals

Lightning fall victim to the Espo Rule.

TB-1
WSH-3

Curtis McElhinney allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the loss. I'd say he deserved better.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:40 WSH Gudas (1), (Eller, Siegenthaler)

Third Period
10:00 TB Kucherov (12), (Point, Palat)
13:57 WSH Orlov (3), (Vrana, Kuznetsov)
17:37 WSH Dowd (3), (Wilson, Orlov)(SH)(EN)

That's a hugely frustrating game where, despite being grossly outpossesed through 40 minutes, McElhinney allowed the Lightning to retain contact. Then, in the Third Period, score effects kicked in and the Lightning tied the game and started getting power play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 after Kucherov tied the game. But Espo's Rule states when a team fails to convert a 5-on-3, they often lose, and that's what happened to Tampa Bay tonight.

The opportunities squandered are just slowly putting Tampa Bay further and further behind the eight ball. With points that were clearly dropped late in the last two games, the team's now in a situation where they'll have to get 10 of the next 12 available points to be on minimum playoff pace again at the 40 game mark of the year. That seems horribly improbably right now considering the team is anti-clutch at the moment.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 7:33.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-21-19 Devils at Crunch

Crunch rebound with strong opening period to exorcise Devils.

BNG-2
SYR-5

Mike Condon allowed 2 goals on 37 shots for the win.

First Period
3:06 SYR Yan (7), (Valleau, Barre-Boulet)
3:18 SYR Barre-Boulet (11), (Yan, Somppi)
17:49 BNG Schmelzer (4), (Maltsev)
18:54 SYR Conacher (9), (Colton, Katchouk)

Second Period
3:10 SYR Conacher (10), (Smith, Gaunce)(PP)
6:54 BNG Schmelzer (5), (Maltsev, Jacobs)

Third Period
19:17 SYR Joseph (1), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Condon, Cory Conacher, and Alex Barre-Boulet were the game's three stars.

This was a game where the final score probably wasn't indicative of the run of play. After the Crunch staked themselves to the quick two goal lead, Bingo had the clear possession advantage the rest of the way and ended up outshooting the Crunch 37-21 in the contest. Hence Condon being the first star of the game. Either way, it's a critical win to bust a slump before it gets out of hand. At a certain point the Crunch are going to need to stop treading water in the bottom third of the North Division and make their run, though.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-20-19 Senators at Crunch

Yuck.

BEL-7
SYR-3

Spencer Martin allowed 6 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:45 BEL Kelly (2), (LaBate, Cassels)

Second Period
1:19 SYR Masin (1), (Volkov, Mueller)(SH)
12:22 SYR Mueller (11), (Conacher, Gaunce)(PP)
13:32 BEL Abramov (11), (Batherson, Aspirot)

Third Period
2:21 BEL LaBate (2), (Cassels, Kelly)
7:00 BEL Szwarz (10), (Balcers, Davidsson)
10:29 BEL Norris (12), (Corrado, Abramov)
16:56 BEL Chalapik (2), (Balcers, Aspirot)(SH)(EN)
17:42 SYR Foote (2), (Volkov, Katchouk)(PP)
18:22 BEL Kelly (3), (Corrado, LaBate)

Chris Mueller was the game's third star.

It's wild to think Syracuse held a lead more than halfway through the Second Period and that things went down the tubes that badly in the Third Period. Lordy.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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