Phantoms never had a ghost of a chance.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He's won 5 straight starts and put together 4 straight quality starts in the process. His save percentage has steadily risen to .904 and he's building up confidence necessary for a solid playoff run.
SYR Mormina, (4) (Kunyk), 11:46 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (20) , 8:45
SYR Koekkoek, (5) (Martindale, Gourde), 10:56
SYR Marchessault, (21) , 2:19 (SH)
SYR Courtnall, (7) (Vermin), 4:47
SYR Martindale, (11) (Courtnall, Dotchin), 8:12
LV Jones, (7) (Comrie, Gordon), 9:22 (PP)
Jonathan Marchessault, Justin Courtnall, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. Marchessault is currently tied for 6th in the league in scoring. Courtnall's got 5 points and a +5 rating in 7 games since joining the Crunch. At this rate, maybe the Lightning should've signed him the first run through the organization?
It's been a long road, but Syracuse has closed back within 1 point of Hershey for the 2nd seed in the conference. For the longest time, they looked to be locked into the 3 seed, but they're playing themselves into a spot to challenge for better position.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. You hate to see a goaltender allow 3 in under 3 minutes like he did in the Second Period, but you applaud the mental toughness to not allow anything else the rest of the way.
5:49 TB Morrow (3), (Brown)
7:47 TB Johnson (26), (Callahan)
6:16 FLA Jokinen (7), (Boyes, Gudbranson)
6:34 FLA Pirri (18), (Trocheck)
8:14 FLA Huberdeau (12), (Barkov, Jagr)
1:30 TB Kucherov (27), (Sustr, Palat)
17:32 TB Callahan (22), (Killorn, Stamkos)
Ryan Callahan and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.
The Lightning didn't deserve a damned thing out of this game. Clearly they talked about their tendency to come out flat in games like these against lesser opposition and they quickly stormed out to the 2-0 lead. But, after the refs gifted a phantom boarding call on Kucherov to the Panthers, and the PK surrendered 5 SOG's in 2 minutes, Florida had the momentum pretty much the rest of the game. It was only by the grace of a great individual play by Kucherov on his wraparound goal and a horrific softie by Luongo on Callahan's goal that Tampa Bay escaped with 2 points. And, yeah, you'll take it, but it's another frustrating example of the team's mental weakness in games like these. It's weird to say you'd rather see top-tier opponents rather than the Jets and Panthers of the world, but you know the team simply hasn't put a 60 minute effort together anytime recently against opponents like the Jets or Panthers.
As I type, the Lightning have moved into a tie with Montreal at 99 points, with the Canadiens just having their game with Nashville tied at 2-2. We'll see how the rest of the night unfolds, but the pressure is still on Montreal to keep their meager lead atop the Atlantic Division.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot in 12:47. Like most of his teammates, his play evaporated in the final 40 minutes of action as they got pinned up in their own zone time and time again.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Ontario Hockey League
Kitchener Rangers 0 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3
D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-1-1, +1, 4 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
Anthony DeAngelo had the primary assist on the Soo’s first goal to extend his point streak to 25 games. He finishes the season with 89 points, and the Greyhounds finish the season with the league’s top overall seed. DeAngelo won the OHL and CHL scoring title for defensemen by 18 points. He was 25 points better the third place finishers, which included the WHL and QMJHL leading defensive scorers.
West-1 Sault Ste. Marie (DeAngelo) vs West-8 Saginaw
East-1 Oshawa vs East-8 Peterborough (Masin, who is out for the season)
Windsor (Cristiano DiGiacinto) did not make the playoffs
Western Hockey League
Kootenay Ice 2 @ Calgary Hitmen 3
D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM
Calgary won the Central Division title by one point over Medicine Hat, thanks to a win over Kootenay on Sunday. Thomas finishes the year with the same point total as last year, but achieved in 12 fewer games. Calgary swept its weekend series with the Ice, and now gets them again in the first round of the playoffs.
East-3 Calgary (Thomas) vs East-6 Kootenay
Moose Jaw (Brayden Point) did not make the playoffs
Stick that in your pipe, Jack Edwards.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Sad lack of net front coverage late in the Third by the Lightning allowed the garbage time goal that wrecked a solid stat line for Ben. Maybe the only blemish on the game.
0:33 BOS Bergeron (21), (Marchand, McQuaid)
5:49 TB Namestnikov (6), (Morrow, Brown)
10:47 TB Brown (3), (Palat, Carle)
11:02 TB Stralman (8), (Filppula, Namestnikov)
7:54 TB Garrison (4), (Johnson, Carle)
10:22 BOS Chara (8), (Smith, Pastrnak)(PP)
13:50 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Kucherov)(PP)
19:12 BOS Paille (6), (Talbot, Campbell)
J.T. Brown, Steven Stamkos, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. Funny how the Bruins got distinctly less big and bad when Stamkos jumped on Marchand after his low-bridge hit on Filppula. What they say is true: the best way to handle a bully is to bloody their nose a bit. Between that and the early 4th line contributions, you knew this was going to be the Lightning's game. It'll be interesting to see how Cedric Paquette draws back into the lineup now, because all 4 lines are clicking reasonably well at the moment.
The victory puts the Lightning at 97 points for the season, meaning they've passed the 96 point mark we peg as the minimum threshold to comfortably make the playoffs. They're also still lurking just 2 points shy of Montreal for the division lead, and we can now officially make banner chasing the mission of the rest of the regular season.
Namestnikov had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:42 of ice time. He might've run out of a little steam in the final 40 minutes of hockey and had at least one pretty awful turnover, which happened in the Second Period, but he's played very well overall. Well enough that I wouldn't be shocked if Namestnikov stays with the Lightning even after Paquette returns from injury. He's now 7 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website with 9 games left on the schedule.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the victory. Not a typo. Light work for the Yak today.
SYR Courtnall, (6) (Blujus, Vermin), 10:25
SPR Adam, (14) (Chaput, Hoeffel), 16:52
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Blujus, Richard), 3:04 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (26) (Ashton, Koekkoek), 19:40 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (18) (Mormina), 14:03
Justin Courtnall continues to look like another Julien BriseBois trash to treasure conversion.
Things get interesting in the next couple of weeks for Syracuse as the amateur ranks yield some ATO opportunities for the Lightning organization. Specifically, Brayden Point could be a prime addition on an ATO for the Crunch, and an early exit from the NCAA tournament could put Matthew Peca in a Crunch jersey very soon, too. Both would be nice additions to a Crunch team in need of more speed and skill, especially up the middle.
Box score from TheAHL.com.