Lightning win a game marked by playoff style intensity and great goaltending.
Dwayne Roloson stopped all 34 shots he faced to win his Lightning debut.
02:54 TB St Louis (17), Lecavalier (10), Kubina (12)
Roloson and Martin St. Louis were the game's first and second stars.
It's pretty cool that the '03-'04 Cup team members dialed up the winning overtime goal. It's hard to imagine a more closely played game than tonight's, which is a marked improvement considering what a nightmare Washington DC has been traditionally for the Lightning. Now the Lightning hold first place in the Southeast with another potential statement game against Pittsburgh tomorrow night.
Matt Smaby played his best game of the season, by the way.
Dana Tyrell played 14:25 and the Kids n' the Hall line got quite a compliment going out for the first shift in overtime. Tyrell and company got shifts against the Ovechkin line here and there over the course of the night and they didn't acquit themselves poorly.
Cedrick the Entertainer is bidding to stick around a while.
Cedrick Desjardins stopped 34 of 35 shots to improve to 2-0-0. He's earned another start, IMO.
13:03 TB Tyrell (4), Thompson (8)
19:14 NYR Gaborik (11), Girardi (17)
00:19 TB Thompson (6), Tyrell (5), Lundin (8)
Desjardins and Nate Thompson were the game's first and third stars.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 7:55.
Dana Tyrell had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 14:12. It was Dana's first multi-point NHL game.
An emphatic result for the Lightning and for several members of the team who come from the Montreal area.
Cedrick Desjardins entertained the crowd by stopping 27 of 28 shots to win his NHL debut. I think you saw displayed tonight some of his strengths and weaknesses: he's incredibly quick and athletic with great flexibility, but on the same token sometimes he gets off his angle or has some holes open up when he's scrambling because he doesn't have the tightest technique. I especially wonder if he can keep playing as low to the ice as he did tonight in close, because he seemed to be giving an abnormally high amount of net from three feet and up in the cage. We'll see if NHL shooters catch up to that.
My measuring stick for this type of goaltender is whether you scare me more or less than Rick Tabaracci did back in the day, and the jury remains out of Desjardins. But you can't complain about the outcome and I think you can make a very good argument that he earned another start with how he played tonight.
00:58 MTL Pacioretty (2), Gomez (13)
02:48 TB St Louis (16), Lecavalier (9), Stamkos (24)(PP)
12:31 TB Kubina (2), St Louis (34), Stamkos (25)
01:46 TB Stamkos (30), unassisted(PS)
04:40 TB Stamkos (31), Malone (20), Hedman (12)
Steven Stamkos, Desjardins, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars. For Stamkos, at 20 years of age, to have 31 goals now before the calendar even changes to 2011 is remarkable. Again, I hope the hockey media grasps what the real story is: it's not that Stamkos continues to push Sid Crosby in the scoring chase, it's that he's not even 21 and he's pushing Crosby in the scoring chase. When he gets to be Crosby's age 3 years or so down the line, how good do you think he'll be? I have my theory, and I'm excited about the future.
Tampa Bay will end 2010 in first place in the Southeast Division, albeit by a tiebreaker with Washington due to having 1 game in hand. They also have an 11 point lead in the standings on 9th place Carolina, which is very reassuring. Interestingly, Tampa Bay is still -2 in goal differential for the season, but that's a drastically improved situation from where the team sat just a few weeks ago. I like to look at goal differential because it really is a measure of consistency and whether a team is competitive night in and night out, even in losses, or do they get blown out when they lose. I don't think a team with a bad goal differential in the regular season is a team that is very well built for the playoffs, so continues improvement in that category for the Lightning is a necessary evolution as they push to possibly exceed the goal of being a playoff team and instead be a team that can be elite and make a deep playoff run.
Dana Tyrell played 13:51 in the match and seemed to be a target for the Canadiens all night long. They're brave men, going after a hulking 5'11" 185 lbs rookie. The thing about Tyrell and a player like Sean Bergenheim is that they become targets because they're a pain in the ass to play against because their speed and tenacity means they're always around the puck making an opponent work, and guys don't like to have to work. The 1995-96 team that made the playoffs was filled almost exclusively with guys like that: Burr, Cullen, Zamuner, Andersson, Gavey. Those types of players can make a team with ordinary scoring talent good and a team with good scoring line talent great. Consider the 2003-2004 team with: Modin, Taylor, Afanasenkov, Clymer, Cibak, and Dingman. The Lightning teams that have been really good over the years have been the ones that have 4-5 of these types of players, and this Lighting team has: St. Louis, Downie, Bergenheim, Thompson, Hall, Tyrell. They can do some business with guys like that which are annoyingly active for an opposing team to have to deal with. So, becoming a target like tonight means you're doing some things right as a hockey player. Credit to Tyrell in that his motor never stops, regardless of how many times he gets knocked down.
It's the annual Bruins/Lightning hosing at the hands of a referee or video goal judge.
Dan Ellis allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss.
00:28 BOS Ryder (11), Recchi (14), Seidenberg (11)(PP)
07:10 TB Stamkos (29), Clark (10), Malone (19)(PP)
03:27 BOS Kampfer (1), Savard (3), Horton (13)
14:02 TB Lecavalier (7), Bergenheim (9), Kubina (10)
03:00 BOS Marchand (5), Thornton (2), Campbell (6)
10:50 TB St Louis (15), Stamkos (23), Kubina (11)
19:40 BOS Recchi (7), Bergeron (15), Seidenberg (12)(PP)
Vincent Lecavalier was the game's second star. He made a brilliant play to almost set up a goal by Pavel Kubina in the first period and an equally brilliant goal to score Tampa Bay's second goal, but I'd be hard pressed to give him a star nod after losing the faceoff cleanly on Boston's third goal. Details matter, and the Lightning stunk in the faceoff circle in the defensive third in the final frame. I counted three clean faceoff losses in the period. You can't survive on a diet of that. All that aside, offensively, I haven't seen Vinny look this good since he was running and gunning for a Richard Trophy. I think you're going to see a lot of this in the second half of the season: Stamkos drawing the attention while Vinny racks up a lot of goals because he's flying under the radar. Gagne too.
I'm not typically big on complaining about the officials. For the most part, things even out in the course of an NHL game. However, once or twice a season a team gets the shaft, and the Lightning always seem to get theirs against the Bruins. I'm still not over Zdeno Chara batting in a puck at his eye level and a video goal judge still saying it should count a few years back, and tonight was a call that was almost as terrible that I'm not going to get over for a long time. There is NO WAY IN HELL Steven Stamkos' hit late in tonight's game was a penalty. Let me reiterate that, NO WAY IN HELL! That was a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder hit by two players going for a puck in the corner. The player being hit was not in a defenseless position. Stamkos did not hit him in the back or slew foot him, or any of the other dangerous plays that should get you wrung up for boarding. No, Steven Stamkos got two minutes for being the stronger hockey player.
Shame. Shame on the officials. I remember a day when NHL referees would never make a borderline call like that late in a game and potentially rob a team of a point. But, in the post-lockout Gary Bettman world, they get rewarded for affecting the outcome of games, because that somehow equals excitement when you artifically put teams under duress (as opposed to hard, clean hits which in Bettman World aren't entertaining at all, because as we all know we all buy tickets to see the zebras and not the players). They get encouraged to do it, and they get encouraged for giving out penalties for good, hard, clean hits. Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania is complaining about the wussification of America with the football game being snowed out in Philadelphia. Well, I'm officially complaining about the wussification of the NHL when Steven Stamkos (not exactly Steve Avery) gets the gate in the last two minutes of a tied hockey game on a good, clean, hard hit. The referees tonight crossed a pretty bright line with that call. I hope the Lightning send the tape into the league and I hope the refs get reprimanded for what they did. Unfortunately, I would put it past Bettman to give them a bonus for it ("I just picked my All-Star Game crew!"). It was a total joke.
I'm pissed, in case you couldn't tell.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 8:34 tonight. He did some good things tonight offensively. It was one of his better games in a while.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:26.
The NHL just issued a clarification regarding the Atlanta Thrashers ownership settlement. The Tampa Bay Lightning actually own the Atlanta Thrashers.
Dan Ellis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory.
08:14 TB Stamkos (28), Malone (18), St Louis (32)
06:03 ATL Bogosian (3), Stewart (14), Little (10)
09:04 TB Lecavalier (5), Gagne (4), Bergenheim (8)
16:17 ATL Modin (7), Slater (6), Eager (6)
01:13 TB Lecavalier (6), St Louis (33), Stamkos (22)(PP)
Vincent Lecavalier was the game's first star.
The Lightning have won nine straight games against the Thrashers. Folks should consider the implications of what the Lightning did tonight: the Thrashers were all in for this game, on their home ice. The Lightning came into town with an ailing Martin St. Louis and didn't, seemingly, have quite as much to play for. And the Lightning, honestly, dominated the Thrashers for much of the game. Pavelec kept the Thrashers close enough to take a point, but on balance the Lightning carried the play, holding the Thrashers to just a single scoring chance in the first period and outshooting them 34-28 in the game... with a sick Martin St. Louis who didn't entirely look like himself from the second period on. The Lightning, at 80%, took the Thrashers' best punch and barely flinched. It's hard to imagine the Thrashers jumping over the Lightning, in the long run, considering that.
Mattias Ritola had 2 shots and 1 hit in 10:31.
Dana Tyrell had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:22.