Gagne is back.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 25 shots tonight for the win. His rebound control was pretty poor tonight, and he didn't make the greatest decision on Toronto's third goal to leave his crease to try to play the puck. Fortunately, the boys in front of him picked him up.
01:25 TOR Versteeg (7), Bozak (4), Gunnarsson (2)
05:18 TB Malone (6), Gagne (1)(PP)
11:51 TOR Kulemin (8), Kaberle (11), Versteeg (7)(PP)
07:23 TOR Kulemin (9), Crabb (1), Komisarek (6)
08:25 TB St Louis (9), Downie (12)
19:51 TB St Louis (10), Stamkos (19), Moore (5)
01:15 TB Gagne (1), Clark (6)
Simon Gagne and Martin St. Louis were the game's first and second stars. Gagne, in his first game back after missing almost a quarter of the season, scored the overtime winner, had a helper, and set a screen in front on the tying goal with less than ten seconds to go in regulation. I think I'd call that a successful return.
Credit to the Lightning for playing 60 minutes of hockey. Good teams find ways to win games like this when they don't have their best but they find ways to make plays to pull out the two points. Bad teams find ways to lose games like this, and Toronto is surely a bad team.
Mathieu Roy had 1 hit in 2:00. Nice work if you can get it.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 1 shot in 12:06.
How close are the Lightning's prospects to graduation, you ask? Roy is 17 games off, based on the 82 career games rule. Tyrell is 19 games off. Ritola is 26 games off. B. Jones is 32 games off. Harju is 37 games off.
I hate shootouts, but not as much as I hate the Panthers.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 27 shots before giving up 1 goal on 4 attempts for the shootout loss. One of Ellis' goals allowed was on a penalty shot.
10:21 TB Purcell (5), Stamkos (18), Malone (10)(PP)
10:12 TB Tyrell (3), Ritola (3), Downie (11)
12:22 FLA Dvorak (5), unassisted (SH)(PS)
03:08 FLA Kulikov (1), unassisted
08:31 FLA Matthias (4), Santorelli (3)
13:15 TB Bergenheim (4), Purcell (12), Malone (11)
Teddy Purcell and Dana Tyrell were the game's second and third stars. Florida got the bounces they needed to hang around in the game and ended up stealing two points. The effort level was much improved from the Washington debacle, at least.
Mattias Ritola had an assist and two shots in 7:26. Tonight, his softness officially became a liability, when he got beat on Kulikov's goal.
Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 12:22.
Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 2:37.
Suggestion to Coach Boucher for the next morning activation exercise in DC: bag skate.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 18 shots for the loss before Dan Ellis came in and gave up 2 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way. You can't blame the goaltending, though, when the team in front of the netminder can't win a single skate race or puck battle and only manages a measely 17 shots on goal.
03:09 WSH Carlson (3), Johansson (1)
04:38 WSH Erskine (3), Fahey (1), Laich (11)
06:52 WSH Semin (15), Johansson (2)
08:56 WSH Semin (16), Backstrom (16), Ovechkin (20)(PP)
11:21 WSH Semin (17), Backstrom (17), Ovechkin (21)(PP)
14:46 WSH Poti (2), Hendricks (5)
I can't explain it. I can't explain why this team starts playing stupid hockey every time they go into Washington DC, and I can't explain why this team seems to lay down every time they see the Caps. It's as amazing as it is unacceptable, especially given what was on the line in this game. It's like they don't respect Washington's offense enough and they get into run-and-gun mode, and you lose if you get into run-and-gun mode with Washington. But what's even more annoying is to only manage 17 shots on Washington, when you know damned well the Capitals don't play any defense. But, when you're last to the puck every single time, you don't generate shots on goal, and you get shutout. Lesson learned, I hope. Move your feet.
In any event, there's a trap game tomorrow night against a Florida team that seems to only play about a half a dozen good games a season, and they save them all for the time they play against the Lightning. Time to get back to basics, and start working hard again, because the last two periods against Washington were pittiful.
Mattias Ritola was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit. And, the next puck battle he wins will be his next. He's soft as margarine on the forecheck. There, I said it.
Dana Tyrell was -1 in 11:27.
Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:15. He also was 56% on draws. I thought today's game was a step forward for Blair. He seemed to do less thinking on the forecheck and more competing. This kid's a beast behind the opposing cage on the forecheck when he's playing rather than outsmarting himself. When he tries to be clever, he kills himself, because he's just not quick enough to take that extra split second to ponder the play. He just needs to stick his nose in and play like the JYD we all know he can be.
First five game winning streak since 2007.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the win.
07:06 TB Malone (4), Stamkos (16), St Louis (20)(PP)
15:37 TB Malone (5), Stamkos (17), Purcell (10)(PP)
04:53 TB Stamkos (21), Downie (9), St Louis (21)
11:05 TB Clark (5), Downie (10), Purcell (11)(PP)
16:56 TB Hedman (1), Ritola (2), Bergenheim (6)
03:58 NYR Eminger (1), Stepan (8)
12:51 NYR Boyle (10), Staal (3), Prust (6)(SH)
18:56 NYR Stepan (5), Gaborik (6), Del Zotto (5)(PP)
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone, and Steve Downie were the game's three stars. It was forty minutes of some of the best hockey of the year, followed by twenty minutes of the team letting its foot off the gas a bit and starting to freelance a bit and play outside of the team system, especially on the power play, as they tried to get Malone his hat trick goal. They'll take the two points and learn from that third period, hopefully, and get ready for a big game against the Caps. The Lightning have maintained contact in the standings at 4 points back with a game in hand. A win against Washington really sends a message.
By the way, Malone's two power play goals and the Clark goal were Exhibit A on how teams cheating to try to take away Stamkos on the power play are just playing Russian Roulette. They left Malone in front for two easy rebound goals by cheating toward Stamkos and then left Downie wide open for a one timer up the slot on the Clark goal. And, what's funny is, Stamkos still had about three really good chances from around the left wing circle anyway. Teams are going to start weighing the risk-reward of overplaying to Stamkos' side now, and I don't think that's a gamble where the team that does it wins. He's got such a quick release there's still a decent chance he's going to get his shot off anyway, and you're surrendering the front of the net or a shot from dead center up the slot in the process. Heaven help the league when that unit gets Lecavalier back in the right wing circle, because if he can pound a few one timers home like he used to back-in-the-day, it's going to create absolute chaos in the assistant coaching community.
Mattias Ritola had an assist and was +1 with 3 shots in 8:04. He darned near had a goal on the first shift on the Lightning's last power play.
Dana Tyrell had 1 blocked shot in 13:36. It's crazy to see his stat line so blank, because he was definitely involved in tonight's play. He played well again.
Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 8:34. I've seen him play better. It's not for lack of effort. He just seems to be playing tight, perhaps.
... And you keep winning...
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win.
03:26 TB Tyrell (2), Jones (6), Thompson (6)
05:15 TB Stamkos (20), St Louis (19), Downie (8)
11:36 TB Purcell (4), Moore (4), Malone (9)
10:38 BOS Ryder (6), Wheeler (4), Caron (3)
The Lightning absolutely dominated Boston for about 36 of the first 40 minutes, and outshot Boston 36-27 overall on the game, with a ton of chances. They could've scored another 8 like in Philly if not for the play of Tuukka Rask. That's a nice statement to make on national TV.
Mathieu Roy had 1 hit in 2:51. Nice work if you can get it.
Dana Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:33. That was probably his best NHL game thus far, and not just because of the goal he got going into a high traffic area. His speed was evident, and he got himself another nice chance from the left wing circle he just shot wide with Rask screened. The most impressive thing I saw, though, was Tyrell almost knocked Zdeno Chara off the puck at one point after Steve Downie almost got killed trying to run at Chara. How strong is Dana Tyrell if he can move a mountain like Chara?
Blair Jones was scoreless in 6:01.
Expect moves to be made with Ritola coming off suspension and Gagne seemingly close to returning.