The Lightning suffer another crippling defeat in the Steve Stamkos derby tonight.
Mike Smith stopped all 20 shots he faced tonight for his first shutout in a Lightning uniform.
If you find these young goaltenders the goal support, I'm telling you, they'll make it stand up. This team is not that far away from turning this thing around. Heck, Smith even got an assist on the empty netter tonight to put the icing on the cake.
Tonight's game winning goal belonged to Alexandre Picard who now has 2 goals and 4 points in 10 games since joining the Lightning. That pro-rates to a 30+ point season over 82 games. Whoever scouted this young man with the Phantoms, and I kind of assume it was Bill Barber, deserves a steak dinner. This young man's been a bit of a revelation since coming over in the Prospal trade. He had 18:30 in ice time tonight, and is looking like a lock to be the team's #5 or #6 defenseman next season. Heaven help the NHL when he gains that extra 5-10 pounds of muscle and gets a little sturdier on those Bambi legs. "Make it so, Number Two."
Unfortunately, injuries on the backline may finally be catching up to Norfolk.
Marc Denis allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss before being pulled for Jonathan Boutin who stopped all 4 shots he faced.
POR Bouck, (7) (St. Jacques, Ebbett), 5:35 (PP)
NOR Henrich, (14) (Keller, Wanvig), 17:11
POR King, (26) (Bouck, Festerling), 12:58
POR Birner, (7) (Ferguson), 13:38
NOR Wanvig, (20) (Henrich, Mihalik), 14:44
POR St. Jacques, (7) (Miller, Bootland), 1:14
POR Bouck, (8) (Ebbett, Ferguson), 7:05
NOR Keller, (12) (Jones, Lawrence), 17:45
Keller now has 12 goals and 33 points in 60 games with a +5 rating. A season ago in Springfield, Keller played exactly 60 games but only managed 24 points and had a -11 rating. The improvement is obvious.
Prior to this season Henrich had just 13 goals and 38 points in his entire AHL career of three seasons and 102 games. This season Henrich already has 14 goals and 31 points in 40 games, and there is still a chance he will double his career statistical output by the end of the year. Again, the improvement is obvious.
A year ago, as a rookie, Blair Jones had 5 goals and 21 points in 45 games (.467 PPG). This season, Blair Jones has 13 goals and 35 points in 63 games (.556 PPG). Again, the improvement is obvious.
A season ago, as a rookie, Radek Smolenak had just 1 point in 20 games. This season, the big winger has 11 goals and 21 points in 45 games. Again, the improvement is obvious.
Coupled with a strong rookie campaign by Vladimir Mihalik (now a team leading +9 among defensemen), the organization is looking less and less like the disaster the local and national media was making it out to be just a month or two ago. In fact, I dare say, it's difficult to claim that there isn't progress being made in Norfolk, even with the defeat tonight.
Eventually, some of that progress will find its way onto NHL ice.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Andreas Holmqvist did not play in Frolunda's 4-0 Game Three win over Farjestads. Frolunda takes a 2-1 opening round series lead.
BCHL Coastal Conference Semifinals
Game 5: No.5 Victoria Grizzlies 2 @ No.2 Langley Chiefs 7
Chiefs lead Best of 7 Series 3-2
W Justin Courtnall, VIC:
Game: 1-0-1, 2 PIM (plus a misconduct)
Series: 5 GP, 1-1-2, 8 PIM
Playoffs: 10 GP, 3-1-4, 12 PIM
Langley scored 5 power play goals to win their third straight in the series. This game got ugly at the end, with multiple misconducts and major penalties.
Green Bay Gamblers 4 @ Chicago Steel 5 (OT)
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 0-1-1, E, 15 PIM (kneeing major + ejection), 4 shots on goal
Cunti was ejected mid-way through the third period.
Lewiston MAINEiacs 1 @ Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 2 (OT)
D Michael Ward, LEW: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 shot on goal
Lewiston is locked into the fifth spot in the Eastern Division and will play either Cape Breton or Acadie-Bathurst in the first round.
Moose Jaw Warriors 4 @ Lethbridge Hurricanes 3 (SO)
C Mitch Fadden, LET: 0-2-2, -1, 2 PIM (hooking)
Fadden scored as the â€˜Canesâ€™ second shooter in the shootout.
Kelowna Rockets 2 @ Tri-City Americans 4
G Torrie Jung, KEL: Loss, 23 saves on 27 shots
Prince George Cougars 2 @ Vancouver Giants 4
C/W Dana Tyrell, PG: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Seattle clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference. They will play either Everett or Kelowna in the first round. Helenius improved his record to 21-12-5-1. There were eight fighting majors in the last few seconds of this game.