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Witkowski, Luke

NHL Game Night: 11-25-16 Blue Jackets at Lightning

Thanksgiving hangover dooms Lightning.

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Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 38 shots for the loss. You couldn't fault him on the first four goals, but the lack of concentration on Columbus' Third Period insurance marker was... troubling.

First Period
3:46 CBJ Wennberg (4), (Saad, Johnson)
8:35 CBJ Foligno (8), (Atkinson, Werenski)

Second Period
8:33 TB Kucherov (11), (Johnson, Palat)
9:02 CBJ Anderson (6), (Hartnell)
18:28 TB Garrison (1), (Filppula, Witkowski)

Third Period
3:37 TB Palat (4), (Kucherov, Hedman)
4:34 CBJ Saad (5), (Wennberg)
11:13 CBJ Atkinson (8), (unassisted)(SH)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

As was the case in Syracuse's game, a Lightning Thanksgiving hangover at home was predictable, but nonetheless unacceptable. Columbus flat out dominated a flat Lightning team in the First Period to stake a 2-0 lead, and with a crossbar and post thrown in, it could've been 4-0. The Lightning showed resiliency to battle back the rest of the game, but their defensemen as a group played the dumbest game they've probably played in years. Some of the turnovers and weak plays along the wall they made were just unbelievable for a group with the experience and pedigree of these players. Ultimately, a soft play in the corner by Garrison led to Saad's eventual game winner and an unbelievable turnover by Hedman on the PP led to Atkinson's insurance goal. Tack that on to about a half dozen idiotic mistakes by Nikita Nesterov and other turnovers by Coburn and Sustr that could've led to goals against versus a more skilled team, and you have a classic example of why I wouldn't be a good coach. Because, simply put, I'd be in jail right now for strangling the whole bloody lot of them. Idiotic. Dumb. Moronish. Brain dead. Imbecilic. Pathetic.

Get well soon, Anton Stralman, because I can't take another night of THAT.

Brayden Point was -1 in 12:42.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with his first NHL assist and 2 penalty minutes in 8:26.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 15:31. He and Witkowski might've been the only Lightning d-men tonight who didn't make a completely boneheaded mistake at some point.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-23-16 Flyers at Lightning

Lightning eventually lap overmatched Flyers.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Both the goals he allowed were subpar short side goals and the first one, in particular, was an inexcusable softie. But, he ultimately staunched the bleeding at that second goal and made a spate of timely stops as the night rolled on to eventually give the team the chance to pull out the win.

First Period
19:57 TB Hedman (4), (Palat, Point)(PP)

Second Period
6:06 PHI Weise (2), (VandeVelde, Provorov)
19:05 PHI Provorov (1), (Read, Streit)

Third Period
13:28 TB Killorn (8), (Koekkoek, Namestnikov)
13:40 TB Callahan (2), (Point, Johnson)
18:45 TB Kucherov (10), (Filppula, Palat)

Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn were the game's first and second stars.

Really, this was a three act play with the common thread running throughout all of it that the Lightning just have an overall higher talent level than Philly that eventually broke through. The Lightning absolutely dominated the First Period despite a lack of crispness in their passing and handling of the puck. The Flyers looked really loose in the neutral zone and were allowing Tampa Bay a lot of speed and odd man rushes, and it seemed a matter of time before Tampa Bay would start running up the score. Philly allowed a late power play goal in the frame to fall behind 1-0 and really should've counted themselves lucky, because Mason had more than one fortunate save/bounce over the course of the evening. The Lightning got a little too fat/happy with themselves in the Second Period and let off the gas a little which allowed the Flyers to run up a large shot advantage in the middle frame although very few really scoring chances came with those shots. But, the Lightning eventually conceded the lead on the softie off the rush allowed to Weise and later Kucherov losing his man off a faceoff loss late in the period on Provorov's goal. The Third Period then became a reprise of the First Period, with the exception that the Lightning started to bear down and focus on their finishing. Three quick goals later Philly was doubled up and dispirited and Mason's luck had fully run out. It really was a matter of time. The Flyers were a hot mess defensively in the neutral zone all night long, and between that and a lot of turnovers under forechecking duress by their defense, a melt down looked inevitable. That's just a bad hockey team, defensively.

Brayden Point had 2 helpers, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 13:35. Made a really good look to Callahan on the goal on a quick change turnover to give the Lightning the eventual game winner.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 7:36. Played a rough and tumble game. He took some big hits and he handed out some big hits.

Slater Koekkoek had a helper and was +2 with 1 hit in 7:32. Took a big pop in the First Period that may have contributed to his diminished ice time. Eventually, though, his jumping into the rush was a key part of Killorn's equalizing goal.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Day: 11-19-16 Lightning at Flyers

There will be kittens on Graduation Day.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 32 shots he faced for the shutout in a commanding performance that allowed the Lightning to overcome a 32-18 shot deficit. Vasilevskiy's win was his 41st NHL decision, officially graduating him from prospect status on Bolt Prospects. And, given how well he's played over the past couple of games, we can't help but feel like Andrei's doing a lot to validate our graduation methodology at the moment. He's clearly all grown up now.

First Period
14:25 TB Johnson (6), (Killorn, Filppula)(PP)

Second Period
7:40 TB Palat (3), (Namestnikov)

Third Period
4:26 TB Drouin (3), (Palat)

Vasilevskiy, Ondrej Palat, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

It's very heartening to see the Lightning make such a seamless readjustment to their game in light of the injuries to Stralman and Stamkos. They needed to adopt a more low-scoring game that relies in part on goaltending and attention to defensive detail. This road trip has seen a return to a lot of the basics that have made the Lightning successful over the past three years, along with some slump-busting by the likes of Tyler Johnson and Palat and the return of Jonathan Drouin from injury. In other words, a lot of the pieces that would have been prerequisites I would have named off for weathering the storm and being met.

Today's victory clinches a successful second 10-game segment of the season, and the Lightning have already secured 1 insurance point with 1 more game left in the segment. This is good. Without Stamkos, the Lightning likely won't be as consistent in the goal scoring department. So, having insurance points socked away will be important for when the team hits speed bumps along the way to March/April.

Brayden Point had 1 hit in 4:16. The low ice time came from a very nasty cut he took on his lip that required a significant amount of stitches. If women do indeed dig scars, Brayden Point is about to become a stinking matinee idol.

Luke Witkowski had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:06.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 hits in 10:45.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 10-1-16 Lightning at Predators

Fourth game in five nights for the barnstorming Lightning.

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Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:54 TB Nesterov (1), (Filppula, Drouin)
19:25 NSH Fisher (1), (Neal, Subban)

Second Period
5:56 NSH Subban (1), (Ribeiro)(PP)
12:37 NSH Ribeiro (1), (Forsberg)(PP)
15:18 TB Filppula (1), (Bishop, Wisniewski)

Third Period
3:07 TB Conacher (1), (unassisted)
15:37 NSH Bass (1), (Neal)

I'm having flashbacks of when Koules and Barrie owned the team and they signed up for a zillion preseason games every year to try to make a little extra scratch because they were so strapped. That's not the case with Vinik, but this is just a lot of games and a lot of travel in the span of less than a week.

Centers
Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 14:20. He was also 46% on 13 draws.

Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:07. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Kind of interesting to see him play center rather than wing, which may be the better fit for him as a pro.

Wingers
Yanni Gourde had 1 hit in 12:16.

Jeremy Morin had 1 shot in 9:10.

Defensement
Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:13. I need to go back and add up all his ice time this week, but suffice it to say he might deserve some sort of iron man trophy. Tonight the Lightning decided to give him a full load after easing him in with the mid teens of minutes earlier in the week. 3 games in 5 nights is still a lot of work.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 11 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 14:12. Witkowski also deserves an iron man trophy of his own.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-30-16

Lightning miss a second straight preseason shutout by an eyelash.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the OT win. The lone blemish was a goal surrendered in a 6-on-4 situation with 1:05 left in regulation. If the performances of the past two nights by Gudlevskis and Vasilevskiy are any indication, Yzerman might have the flexibility he needs if he does choose to move Ben Bishop for cap reasons.

First Period
5:21 TB Johnson (1), (Palat, Nesterov)[/b]

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
18:55 CAR Skinner (2), (DiGiuseppe, Rask)

Overtime
1:38 TB Palat (1), (unassisted)

Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars, as the usual suspects start to calibrate their game for the regular season.

Very interesting lineup tonight from the Lightning and a pleasantly surprising performance. Tonight's group mixed in more NHL forwards, at least on the wings, but they pretty much went with Syracuse's defensive corps plus Nikita Nesterov, who may be a bubble player in this camp. It helps when you have Vasilevskiy behind you, but to almost get a shutout with that group is not too shabby.

Centers
Tanner Richard had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 17:35. He was also 33% on 12 draws. Please, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.

Brayden Point had 4 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 16:09. He was also 33% on 9 draws. Sorry, son, you don't get to score a goal every game.

Cam Darcy had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:31 and was 30% on 10 draws. PLEASE, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.

Wingers
Joel Vermin had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:44.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 14:02. For a guy who didn't score, his stat line still looks quite active, I have to say.

Henri Ikonen had 1 blocked shot in 14:15. The window is closing on the young Finn.

Brian Hart had 4 hits in 10:14. He then hit someone with an aluminum chair and put them in the Sharpshooter.

Defensemen
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 4 hits and 2 blocked shots in 21:10. He's not giving any quarter in camp to anybody.

Dominik Masin had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 19:55.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 19:46.

Dylan Blujus had 3 blocked shots in 19:29.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:10.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-27-16 Hurricanes at Lightning

Valiant Third Period comeback bid by Junior Lightning gives hope for the future.

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Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 23 shots before giving way to Adam Wilcox, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots for ye old backdoor loss. It was a respectable outing for both netminders who get additional time thanks to the World Cup of Hockey.

First Period
19:07 CAR Br. Sutter (1), (Foegele)

Second Period
10:26 CAR Wallmark (1), (Kuokkanen)
11:28 CAR Skinner (1), (Stempniak, Pesce)

Third Period
11:28 TB Point (1), (Johnson, Hajek)
18:41 TB Imama (1), (Vermin, Cerelli)

Brayden Point was the game's third star.

This is going to be a strange camp/preseason because of it being chopped up by the WCOH. The silver lining is some extra time for potential future contributors like Point, who didn't embarrass themselves tonight. Among those prospects, the ice time was as follows, revealing more who the organization wanted to take a long early look at for the future than who they trust and are thinking about from an NHL roster standpoint for this season...

Centers

Brett Howden was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:50. He was also 44% on 9 draws.

Point had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot in 15:38. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper and 1 shot in 15:36. He was also 39% on 18 draws.

Wingers
Joel Vermin had a helper and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 15:19.

Mathieu Joseph had 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:04.

Dennis Yan had 2 penalty minutes in 12:40.

Boko Imama had 1 goal, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 10:28. He also killed 0 Hurricanes with his fists... this time.

Defensemen
Libor Hajek had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in a hefty 20:45.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:59.

Matthew Spencer was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 18:51.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:23.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Re-sign Defenseman Luke Witkowski

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in four games with the Lightning in 2015-16. He also made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, skating in two games during the second round against the New York Islanders. Witkowski also played in 70 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, recording three goals and 14 points. He ranked third on the team for games played and led all blue-liners for plus/minus with a plus-2 rating.

A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski has played in 20 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, during the previous two seasons, registering 19 penalty minutes. He has also amassed 199 career AHL games, all with Syracuse, with seven goals, 34 points and 465 penalty minutes. Witkowski has skated in three career Calder Cup Playoff games, all during the 2015 playoffs, and recorded an assist.

Witkowski was drafted in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft.

Witkowski Doing Dirty Work for Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Luke Witkowski showed little hesitation in getting his hands dirty.

During a stoppage in the final minute of the third period during a game in Binghamton Saturday, a squid -- apparently thrown from the stands -- ended up on the ice. The Syracuse Crunch defenseman and avid outdoorsman took off his glove to pick up the sea creature, gave it a quick whirl as he pondered what to do with it, and sent it flying back into the stands.

“I noticed the refs were skating away from it and no one was grabbing it, so I thought I’d chuck it back up to where it came from,” Witkowski said.

Witkowski is no stranger to doing the necessary dirty work on the ice, and is now focused on improving his game with by logging big minutes in the American Hockey League to make the next step to the National Hockey League.

NHL Game Night: 11-28-15 Islanders at Lightning

Choke job on Channelside.

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Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.

First Period
16:20 TB Killorn (4), (Stamkos, Stralman)

Second Period
1:39 TB Stralman (2), (Stamkos, Filppula)
3:51 NYI Bailey (5), (Nelson, Strome)(PP)
16:51 NYI Clutterbuck (5), (unassisted)

Third Period
16:24 NYI Tavares (11), (Nielsen, Leddy)(PP)

Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman were the game's second and third stars.

It was Black Saturday at the rink tonight, and the Isles got 2 free points just for showing up. The Lightning absolutely dominated about 45-50 minutes of this game, but went 0-for-4 on the PP (rarely looking threatening) and going 1-for-3 on the PK (and also looking rarely threatening). When you couple those with a Clutterbuck cheapie on a puck Coburn misplayed in front of his own net, you get a tragedy like tonight's outcome. The Lightning had a chance to pull into the halfway point of this segment in very good shape to rehabilitate some of the damage they caused in games 11-20. Instead, they'll have to win 3 of the next 5 just to make sure they don't dig the hole any deeper. It's not good enough. It was something to shrug off last season when the team was so good at even strength it could get by without a functional power play and still lead the league in goals. This season, it can't be shrugged off. They HAVE to figure out this power play or they're through, and it starts with the other 4 players on the ice starting to create pressure points and take shots rather than telegraphing everything to Stamkos. If I could've reached through my TV and choked out Kucherov tonight on the power play I would've for passing up two solid chances for a lesser opportunity to Stamkos. It can't happen. It's not unselfishness. It's self-destructiveness.

Jonathan Marchessault had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:45. Marchessault nearly set up a go ahead goal late in the Third Period to Namestnikov with a good read an exceptional quickness.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 1 hit in 11:57.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 3 hits in 7:31.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-25-15 Kings at Lightning

The momentum is real.

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Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. He was sparkling tonight. The only regulation goal he allowed was a seeing eye shot through three players and he did get victimized again 5-hole in the shootout, but on balance he was the difference in the game tonight. He's formed the backbone for the resurgence of the team the last 3 games.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
5:57 TB Johnson (4), (Marchessault)
14:37 LA Lucic (7), (Toffoli, Carter)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
LA- Kopitar
TB- Marchessault, Filppula

Bishop and J.T. Brown were the game's first and third stars. Marchessault may have gotten robbed, IMO.

That's the tightest checking team in the NHL, right there. The Kings apply so much back pressure it's stifling and I think the Lightning really struggled with it because there's not another team that gets back on you that quickly in the league. It's just really tough to get anything other than a greasy goal on those guys because you're not allowed any time and space to do anything of much creativity and they don't turn the puck over much. Credit to the Lightning for manufacturing the win, and now you look at consecutive wins against the Rangers, Ducks, and Kings. Those are three teams with talent levels that scream legit Cup contenders, and tells you the Lightning are earning their way back into the high rent district of the league. They're halfway to the segment goal of 12 points just 3 of 10 games into the segment, so they've got an opportunity to carve away at that 5 point deficit from their stinky performance in the previous 10 games. The schedule doesn't lighten up any, but it's certainly not any worse than the league heavies the Lightning put away these past three contests.

Jonathan Marchessault had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 11:05. His coming out party continues. He created the lone regulation goal by picking off a pass at the Kings blueline and showing good awareness to move it quickly to Johnson in open space. And, in the Shootout, he abused one of the best goaltenders in the world with a laser beam top shelf. He's making a case for himself nightly now.

Luke Witkowski had 3 hits in 5:28. Not a chance he was seeing much ice time in a game this tight on the scoreboard. Not a chance for any young d-man in the #7 role coming up from Syracuse. He got in and out of his 7 shifts without much incident, and that'll keep the coach's happy enough for tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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