When wins don't feel like wins...
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the OT win. Wait, what? 2 goals? Yes, because in a freak play Steven Stamkos scored into his own net with Bishop pulled on a delayed penalty. It was that kind of night.
12:20 BUF D'Agostini (5), (Ristolainen, Larsson)
14:07 BUF Hodgson (17), (Ehrhoff)
17:52 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov, Carle)
19:46 TB Stamkos (22), (Brown, Gudas)
8:14 BUF Conacher (7), (unassisted)(EN)
10:07 TB Callahan (16), (Purcell, Stamkos)(PP)
1:53 TB Stamkos (23), (Filppula, Purcell)(PP)
Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars. For my money, J.T. Brown deserved consideration as well, seeing as he was one of the few Lightning players who didn't snooze through about 55 minutes of play tonight.
The Lightning now have 91 points, meaning they're probably just 4-5 points away from what they need to make the postseason. The way things are looking they'll probably get Montreal with the only real question being which of the two clubs gets home ice. That's a wonderful story, given everything that's happened over the last year, and I don't want to diminish it. And, with the win tonight the Lightning have gotten points in each of their last 11 games at a time of the year when points don't come easy in order to put themselves in this position. I don't want to diminish that either. Manufacturing points isn't an easy thing.
However, at some point you keep waiting for the Lightning to show they have an extra gear up from simply manufacturing points to actually proving they're one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and that's not how the team has looked lately. Tonight was painful to watch, just like the Islanders game was. Worse, in fact, because I think the Lightning's effort level was even lower tonight than it was against the Isles. Playing against two of the most talent-bereft squads in the NHL the Lightning didn't show up and just barely scratched out 2 wins. Yeah, that'll get you in the playoffs, but let's be honest: play like that in the playoffs and Montreal will embarrass you. Flat out. Embarrass. You. This team does not, in any way shape or form, look ready for the crucible that is postseason hockey. They, at times, look like a team happy just to be near making the playoff treating the experience like a coronation. At other times, they look like a team that peaked way too soon and are now running on fumes near the finish line (Bishop falling mostly into this latter category).
Something's got to change, and I hope with home ice still on the line it doesn't take this team taking a tragic, soul-shattering butt whipping at some point in the next few games for them to realize something's got to change in the effort department.
Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 shot in 15:44.
KHL Eastern Conference Semifinals
(4)Ufa 3 vs. (2)Astana 2
Ufa Wins the Series 4-2
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Win, 28/30, 2.00 GAA, .933 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 8-5-0, 0 SO, 2.18 GAA, .930 sv%
Oilers third rounder Anton Slepyshev's goal 1:44 into the Third Period turned out to be the game winning, series clinching goal in Ufa's 3-2 Game Six win over Astana. Ufa also got goals from former Senators draft pick Igor Mirnov and former Stars draft pick Ivan Vishnevsky in the win.
Ufa now advances to face top seeded Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL Eastern Conference Finals, setting up a titanic clash between goaltenders Vasilevskiy and Magnitogorsk's Vasily Koshechkin. It's a collision course between the old school of Lightning prospect goaltenders, Koshechkin, who has been one of the best goaltenders in Europe for over a half a decade, and the Lightning's goaltender of the future, Vasilevskiy. At stake is a spot in the KHL's Gagarin Cup Finals against Yaroslavl or Praha.
No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers 2 vs No. 13 North Dakota 5
Midwest Regional Semifinals
F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 7-11-18, +6, 10 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 2-8-10, E, 20 PIM
Fourth-seeded North Dakota upset top-seeded Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional Semifinals, 5-2. The Badgers tied the game at 2 with half a period to go, but O’Donnell’s slapshot from the right point hit teammate Mark MacMillan in the back and bounced into the net to give UND a lead they’d never relinquish. Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi scored two empty net goals to give him three goals in the game and seal the win for the former Sioux. UND will meet Ferris State on Saturday for the right to go to the Frozen Four.
No. 10 Providence Friars 4 vs No. 7 Quinnipiac Bobcats 0
East Regional Semifinals
F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 40 GP, 12-26-38, +4, 16 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 39 GP, 15-15-30, +14, 36 PIM
Friars goalie Jon Gillies stopped all 37 shots he faced to shut out the second-seeded Bobcats and lead third-seeded Providence to within one win of the Frozen Four. Providence will play Union on Saturday. Peca’s junior season is over and it’s possible he gets a contract offer from Tampa Bay to leave school and join AHL Syracuse. He told the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson in July that he’d be open to leaving school after his junior season. Whether Lightning GM Steve Yzerman thinks pro hockey is the best thing for Peca now and next year is another story. There isn’t a lot of room in the Syracuse forward ranks for next season. Peca is a special talent with impressive intangibles. He played center this year for the first time in college. He could return to the Bobcats as their frontline center.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 6 @ Quebec Remparts 2
Huskies win best-of-7 first round series, 4-1
C/W Adam Erne, QUE: 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 5 Hits
Playoff totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM
2012-2013 Season: 68 GP, 28-44-72, +11, 67 PIM
Playing his first game since he blocked a shot with his stomach on February 16 and suffered a lacerated spleen, Adam Erne scored a goal, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Remparts alive in the playoffs. Seventh-seeded Quebec lost to 10th-seeded Rouyn-Noranda, 6-2, and dropped the series, 4-1. Erne was having a fine year before his injury, and if he’s truly healthy, he could be added to the Syracuse Crunch by Tampa Bay under a tryout agreement. Erne will likely return to Quebec next year as he’s not old enough for a full season in the AHL (he can join now because his junior team is done) and there isn’t a lot of room on the NHL roster for him.
Ontario Hockey League
Niagara IceDogs 3 @ North Bay Battalion 4
IceDogs lead best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 3-2
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 1-0-1, -4, 6 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
A desperate North Bay team outshot Niagara 36-13, but had to hold on to win Game 5, 4-3. Niagara cut the Battalion’s lead to one with half a period to go, but they couldn’t net the equalizer. Game 6 is Sunday in St. Catherines.
Sudbury Wolves 0 @ Barrie Coltes 7
Colts win best-of-7 Easter Conference Quarterfinals, 4-1
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 5 GP: 2-2-4, +2, 6 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 11-25-36, +22, 121 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
Barrie left little doubt they wanted to advance in the playoffs, crushing the visiting Wolves, 7-0, on Friday. Dotchin finished the opening round series with two goals and four points in five games.
Peterborough Petes 6 @ Kingston Frontenacs 5 (OT)
Frontenacs lead best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 3-2
W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-1-1, +2, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 1-5-6, +4, 6 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 25-45-70, +17, 49 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM
Kingston lost a 3-1 lead and failed to close out their series with the Petes, losing in overtime in Game 5, 6-5. Game 6 is Sunday in Peterborough.
Despite going down by two goals in the first period, the Syracuse Crunch kept their gameplan largely the same.
Syracuse cleaned up the backcheck that had cost them early and continued to pour on the pressure at the other end. The Crunch scored three times in both the second and the third, as they rallied to top the Adirondack Phantoms, 6-4, for their third-straight win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"We didn't change anything," said Syracuse forward Cedric Paquette. "We played well since the beginning and took control of the game. We didn't panic and the goals came."