The Lightning pull out a critical win in the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 36 shots before allowing 1 of 2 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. Since the Lightning's drubbing against Carolina, Ramo has rebounded (perhaps a bad choice of words in Karri's case) to go 2-0-3. He's got a nice .919 save percentage over that span, too, by my count. Rebound control remains an issue, but he's making the first saves, which is critical. He could save the Lightning a small fortune by proving he can be Smitty's backup with continued good performances down the stretch.
06:12 ATL Kozlov (22), (Enstrom, Armstrong)
17:49 ATL White (20), (Kozlov, Kovalchuk)(PP)
03:50 TB Stamkos (17), (Krajicek, St. Louis)
05:12 TB Stamkos (18), (Lashoff, Lecavalier)(PP)
12:52 ATL Kovalchuk (37), (White, Enstrom)(PP)
15:36 TB Prospal (18), (Krajicek)
The Lightning managed to crawl back into this game after laying down in the First Period the same way they laid down in the Third Period against the Caps. They're fortunate the Thrashers stink in that regard and let them get back to even.
Steven Stamkos continues his steady march to 20 goals as he racked up his 17th and 18th tonight. Keep shooting, young man. It's hard to believe he only had 6 goals at the end of the month of January. In his last 16 games, Stamkos has 11 goals and 16 points. That pro-rates to a 56 goal, 82 point campaign over 82 games. That's not to say he'll stay this hot for a full year next season. But, to me, with an entire offseason to train and build his body and the work ethic he's already displayed, I would not be shocked at all to see him pot 40 goals and 80-90 points next year. I think the league was lulled into a false sense of security about Stamkos when he didn't come out of the hockey womb a preformed point-a-game player and when Barry Melrose decided to chuck #91 under the bus after he was fired. Hopefully Stamkos' amazing late season productivity continues to fly under the radar and sets him up to storm the league early next season. I suspect I'll almost feel pity for teams who have to choose between dying by Stammer or Vincent Lecavalier's hand next year with the two playing on opposite scoring lines. Almost.
Have the Lightning actually won a game in the third jerseys, by the way? If someone knows the team's record with them on, by all means post it. I suspect it's almost terrible enough to warrant burning the new threads.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 24:37. This was a good rebound game after going -4 against Washington.
David Koci had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 6:45.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 shot in 12:41.
Martins Karsums had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:19. He was better tonight.
Richard Petiot was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:11. He was awful in the first period as Atlanta took advantage of his slow feet. To his credit, he got it back together in the final 40 minutes. I like him as a #8 or #9 d-man who can come up from Norfolk if there's an injury.
Matt Lashoff had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 28:18, which led the team in ice time. 3 games in a Lightning jersey: 3 power play assists. You can't complain about that kind of production. He deals a good pass for a one-timer, which can get a defenseman paid on a power play that features shooters like Stamkos, Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. His skating allows him to potentially eat big minutes like he did tonight, too. Darren Eliot claimed tonight that his skating had somehow been "exposed." It's a shame that someone swapped out his Thrashers flavored Kool-Aid for bad moonshine. Here's to hoping his eyesight returns to him soon.
10 more games to go. We'll see if Blair Jones and/or Justin Keller get late season recalls. I would advise it with these two players having their contracts up this offseason.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.