Not as close as the score indicates.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 28 shots in the loss.
05:05 TB Craig (1), (Hall, Pettinger)
06:41 TB Prospal (8), (Lecavalier)
14:46 CAR Williams (2), (Brind'Amour, Seidenberg)(PP)
15:57 CAR Larose (9), (Seidenberg, Pitkanen)
06:21 CAR Pitkanen (4), (Williams, Whitney)
The Lightning could only muster 19 shots in the game, and after a good first 10 minutes the team was completely dominated by Carolina.
Ty Wishart was -1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 7:53. He looked lost, tenatative, and slow. He's not ready for primetime.
Matt Smaby had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:50. His mistakes were a bit more pronounced in this game.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot in 10:47. He's sort of fallen off the face of the earth since his big game against Pittsburgh.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot and 2 penalty minutes in 10:47, and 3 giveaways. Athletically he's capable of playing at the NHL level. Metally, he's not there yet.
Steven Stamkos was 50% on draws in 9:50. Non-factor.
Thin Lightning defensive corps gets thinned out even more.
Mike Smith allowed 7 goals on 35 shots in the loss.
03:58 WSH Collins (1), (Ovechkin, Morrisonn)
08:02 WSH Steckel (5), (Bradley, Jurcina)
18:29 WSH Green (9), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
00:58 TB Lecavalier (15), (Prospal, St. Louis)
02:37 TB Malone (9), (Halpern)
02:48 WSH Bradley (4), (Gordon)
19:44 TB Lecavalier (16), (Prospal, St. Louis)
08:07 WSH Gordon (5), (unassisted)
12:22 TB Recchi (9), (St. Louis, Meszaros)
12:47 WSH Clark (1), (Nylander, Green)
18:14 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Backstrom)
Paul Ranger and Lukas Krajicek were already scratches when Jamie Heward got sent to the hospital in the third period with a concussion. It left the Lightning with an incredibly short bench at the end of the game, with the coaching staff not having much confidence in recall Vladimir Mihalik.
Matt Smaby was -2 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:22. He has 13 hits in his last two games. That's something, although he was also on the ice for five Capitals goals (albeit, he was saddled with Eminger as a pairing partner).
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 15:13.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 13:22. He saw precious little ice though after Heward went down, which is telling.
Steven Stamkos was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit and he was 50% on draws in 12:20.
I think you ball this one up and forget about it, considering all the injuries and other odd circumstances. The good news is: Lecavalier and St. Louis woke up.
Ou est Lecavalier et St. Louis?
Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 30 shots, but then allowed both Montreal shooters to score in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss.
13:18 TB Prospal (7), (Malone, St. Louis)(PP)
00:46 MTL Latendresse (5), (Lapierre, Kostopoulos)
MTL- Kovalev, Lapierre
The Lightning's best players tonight were, in no partocular order, Smith, Ryan Malone, Andrej Meszaros, and Evgeny Artyukhin. Absent from that list? Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. It's not rocket science: if those two don't score, the Lightning are going to struggle to defeat quality opponents like Montreal. They're getting excellent goaltending and some secondary scoring. Heck, they're even getting some inspired play from their defensemen at times. So now it's up to Lecavalier and St. Louis. They need to turn up the volume over the next two months to get this team over the hump.
It was nauseating to be outnumbered by Canadiens fans in our own barn. They were well behaved, at least. I mean, I wasn't stepping over drunks and weaving between fist fights like I would if we were invaded by Flyers fans. Still, I would've loved nothing better than to answer their annoying little "Go Habs Go" chant with a little "Go Home Habs."
Matt Smaby had a team high 7 hits in 15:47 filling some of the ice time vacated by a scratched Marek Malik. He did some good things. He's looked better in this recall; good enough for me to think that maybe he needs to replace Jamie Heward on the roster. He made some mistakes again, sure. But, like I said after the last game, as long as they are mistakes of aggression I'm more willing to live with them. And, it's not like his veteran bretheren on the Lightning blueline don't make mistakes in their own rights. Steve Eminger is working hard to make me go gray early in life by backing off shooters and routinely letting them walk the puck into the slot.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 hit and was 57% on draws in 10:34. He's taken a bit of a step back since that amazing game against the Pens.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot, 2 hits, and was 67% on draws in 11:45. He had one really awful power play shift in the third period. Other than that I thought he was ok.
The Lightning are finally starting to establish an identity in the post-Tortorella era.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 29 shots in the win.
07:06 TB Stamkos (4), (Smaby, Jokinen)
14:03 TB Artyukhin (3), (Recchi, Jokinen)(PP)
03:09 FLA Booth (13), (unassisted)
04:52 TB Lecavalier (13), (St. Louis, Malone)
16:27 FLA Horton (7), (Stillman, Weiss)(PP)
16:53 FLA Booth (14), (Frolik, McCabe)(PP)
19:54 TB Lecavalier (14), (St. Louis, Malone)
04:42 TB Malone (8), (St. Louis, Ranger)
07:46 TB St. Louis (13), (Lecavalier, Malone)
13:57 FLA Weiss (6), (Booth)
I haven't seen a Lightning team play this physical is about 12.5 years. You can see, it's starting to sink in and become the new identity of this team. Rick Tocchet has found a real nice energy line with Artyukhin, Szczechura, and Pettinger, and he's got some other bangers like Hall and it's starting to get contagious. I noticed Andrej Meszaros and Mark Recchi starting to take the body more recently and tonight, my goodness, Vaclav Prospal was in seek and destroy mode on a couple of plays. When you start getting a finesse playmaker like Prospal to lower the boom, you've got something cooking.
The other side of the equation, as I said last night, is that the first line has to get cooking, and they did tonight. The Lightning are getting secondary contributions, but they're meaningless unless Lecavalier and St. Louis can manufacture a couple of goals themselves between them on a nightly basis. Lecavalier's goal late in the second period settling down his tee shot off a Marty St. Louis rebound was a big, big goal; maybe the biggest of the year thus far.
The Lightning are now 6 games under .500 and I think they now need to go into the same mode Norfolk is in: try to get this thing back to .500 over the next month or so and then go from there.
Matt Smaby had 1 assist, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 12:57 tonight. He made some mistakes, but they were mistakes of aggression, which I think the coaching staff is more able to live with than passive mistakes.
Paul Szczechura had 4 shots, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 10:08.
Steven Stamkos had 1 goal, and was +1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and he was 60% on draws. He might've stolen Smaby's first NHL goal from him on the tap in (Smaby got his first NHL point on the resulting assist). As with Smaby, Stamkos isn't playing perfect, but he's at least playing aggressive. Controlled aggression: that's what this team's motto needs to be.
Florida's luck finally ran out in the shootout.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before stopping 2 of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
11:24 TB Eminger (2), (Ranger)
18:28 FLA Ballard (4), (Boynton, Dvorak)
16:53 TB Recchi (8), (Eminger, Pettinger)
18:27 TB Artyukhin (2), (Malone, Eminger)
13:37 FLA Stillman (8), (Bouwmeester, Ballard)(PP)
19:46 FLA McCabe (6), (Weiss, Stillman)
TB- Hall, Jokinen, Malone
FLA- Stillman, Horton
Interesting message sent by Tocchet to Lecavalier and St. Louis by going with shooters like Hall and Artyukhin in the shootout session. Considering the Lightning have won the past two games on the road without any meaningful contributions offensively from the top line, one could interpret this as a wake-up call. If Lecavalier and Marty ever do get it cooking along with the secondary scoring the team has, they could reel off a winning streak here. Taking both ends of a home-and-home away from that vile cesspool of a franchise down in South Florida by winning tomorrow night at home would be an outstanding morale booster for the team and the fanbase alike.
Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 14:30. He got a fair amount of ice time but wasn't terribly noticable.
Steven Stamkos was +1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 13:17. He was really flying tonight, and he had a point blank chance in the third period that could've been the dagger in Florida's heart. He's still struggling anywhere below the circles because of his lack of strength, but his jump was good tonight and he seemed more aggressive. If they can get that effort from Stamkos every night for the next little while, they'll take it, I'm sure.