Keep your foot on the gas and you win.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 1 goal on 35 shots but he also allowed 1 goal on 3 shootout attempts and that was all it took for him to get the penalty shot session loss. He deserved a lot better. He was absolutely brilliant in the third period.
TB 12:12, Downie 6 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)
COL 12:11, Wolski 12 (Stastny, Wilson)
The Lightning were actually leading in shots after two periods 17-14, primarily on the strength of a very good first 30 minutes. They started to let off the gas midway through the middle frame, and then suddenly the Avalanche hung a 20-5 shot disparity on them the rest of the way. It's unacceptable. The forecheck just evaporates way too easily for this team, especially when they're trying to protect a lead. Take a tip from Chris Dingman, the best way to protect a one goal lead is to get the puck behind their net and sit on it for 30 seconds. The Lightning are lucky to hold possession in the other team's zone for 3 seconds in scenarios like tonight. Someone's got to start paying the price to hold onto the puck.
And for the love of God, someone please score a (Ooh La La!) shootout goal.
Matt Smaby led the Lightning in hits with 4 in 15:30. Hello old friend. We missed you.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 63% on draws in 8:37.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 18:18.
James Wright had 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 67% on draws in 15:32.
Victor Hedman had 1 shot in 25:31.
Lightning fall to .500. Season at a crossroads.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the loss.
TB 1:08, St. Louis 6 (Lecavalier, Malone)
EDM 11:21, Gilbert 2 (Nilsson, Stortini)
EDM 6:31, Penner 17 (Gagner, Brule)
TB 7:34, Hedman 2 (St. Louis)
EDM 11:07, Stortini 3 (Stone)
Messages are being sent. If they aren't received, changes are almost sure to be the next option.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 12 penalty minutes, and was 80% on draws in 7:48.
Paul Szczechura was -2 with 2 shots and 1 hit and was 56% on draws in 20:50.
James Wright was -2 in 13:57.
Victor Hedman had a goal, 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots as he rose back to the 26 minute mark with 26:04 of ice time.
They can skate with the Caps, but they couldn't finish their chances.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
WSH 7:39, Ovechkin 19 (Semin)
WSH 12:32, Eric Fehr 8 (Fleischmann)
WSH 19:35, Ovechkin 20 (Fleischmann, Semin)(PP)
Steven Stamkos 0 shots on goal. I rest my case. The coaching staff needs to get on Steven hard to shoot the puck more. If I was Tocchet I'd tell Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis the first one to 5 shots in the next game gets $500.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:57 and was 50% on draws.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 80% on draws in 13:17.
James Wright had 2 shots and was 50% on draws in 13:38.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 2 hits in 19:11.
Just what the doctor ordered.
Mike Smith stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout. He's been fairly resilient this season. He had a terrible game against Ottawa earlier in the year and he had a good start his next time out afterwards. He was suspect a couple of times against Boston, in my opinion, but he shut the door tonight against the Isles.
TB 1:35, Malone 16 (Meszaros, St. Louis)
TB 19:08, Downie 5 (Meszaros, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 2:58, Halpern 5 (Foster, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 10:31, Hedman 1 (Lecavalier, Tanguay)
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 71% on draws in 7:34.
James Wright had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 12:51.
Blair Jones had 1 shot, 1 blocked shot, and was 50% on draws in 12:00.
Victor Hedman scored his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 21:32. To use the basketball vernacular, the big man filled the lane and finished with authority on the "fast break" 3-on-1. Seriously, he looked like a shark attacking his prey the way he recognized the odd man rush situation and used his speed to blast right to the net and he made no mistakes with his shot. Beautiful, beautiful goal.
I'd almost rather lose a game 4-2 then cough up a winning goal in the last minute. Almost.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the loss. It's been an alarming trend over the last week and a half where the Lightning haven't been getting quite the same level of goaltending they were getting, and the results have very quickly turned sour because of it. That's not to say Niitty was terrible, but 3 goals on 19 shots isn't a pretty number.
TB 1:26, Lecavalier 6 (Halpern)
NJ 1:15, Rolston 9 (Niedermayer)(PP)
NJ 5:14, Bergfors 8 (Zharkov)(PP)
TB 17:00, Downie 4 (Stamkos, Malone)(PP)
NJ 19:21, Langenbrunner 6 (Greene, Rolston)
Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:18.
Paul Szczechura played just 4:12 in the game.
James Wright got in his first NHL fight and had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:23.
Blair Jones had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:27. Let me be one of the first to say how proud I am of Blair to work his way into this opportunity. He has always had a lot of promise since his days in junior, but he's fluctuated between the penthouse in his rookie season and the doghouse for the past couple of seasons because he's a bit of a laid back Western farm boy, as Steve Stirling once put it to me, so the physical and defensive intensity hasn't always been there night in and night out. He's really started to understand more about being prepared to go every night and he's earned this chance. Let that be a lesson to all the youngsters in Norfolk: even in your fourth season of pro you've got a chance if you work hard, prepare like a professional, and put it together at the rink.
Victor Hedman was +1 with 1 hit in 19:32.
Boston remains the Lightning's chamber of horrors.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 38 shots for the loss. I thought Smitty's play was subpar tonight. I think Boston's first and third goals were suspect, and I think they really changed the complexion of the game. You can't spot Tim Thomas two extra goals of support in his own barn. He'll beat you.
BOS 8:05, Savard 5 (Morris, Chara)(PP)
BOS 14:03, Bergeron 8 (Chara, Recchi)
BOS 13:36, Sturm 7 (Recchi, Bergeron)
BOS 16:09, Sturm 8 (Bergeron, Recchi)
TB 1:27, Halpern 4 (Downie, Malone)
The team didn't play as poorly as the score indicated, outside of the goaltending. The forecheck and the dirty work in front of the opposition's cage is coming along. They'd have gotten more were it not for Thomas being Thomas tonight.
It was good to see Matt Smaby back in action, although he only got one shift in the third period after seeing about 10-11 minutes in the first two periods. He was feeling his way out in this game. I think he needs a couple of games to get comfortable again and then the hits will start coming. I hope the Lightning recognize what they have in Smaby. Big, physical defensemen are rare and worth their weight in gold. It seems like every year teams draft 2-3 dozen of these types of guys out of junior and only a handful pan out. So, when you get one that does, you need to keep him and continue to develop him.
Steven Stamkos has gotten into more of a pass-first mode the past couple of games. Shoot the puck, young man. Shoot it from the team hotel. Shoot it from the nacho stand. Shoot it from the restaurant after the game. Shoot the puck. He had 5 shots tonight, but he gave up at least three shots from prime scoring areas. Shoot.
Zenon Konopka had 2 shots and 4 hits in 8:17.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots and 1 hit in 13:16 but was 43% on draws. He's been one of the Lightning's better forwards over the past couple of games.
James Wright had 2 blocked shots in 8:53.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:41.
The Lightning were dominated for about 45 minutes, and by then it was too late to come back.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the loss. His first goal allowed was painfully soft, but your team needs to give you goal support.
COL 8:16, Duchene 5 (Stewart)
COL 13:38, Duchene 6 (Stewart, Stastny)(PP)
COL 19:46, Wolski 10 (Galiardi)(EN)
The Lightning absolutely poured it on in the final 15 minutes of the game. If they came out with that intensity, they'd have had a chance.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 15 penalty minutes with 1 hit in 5:24.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots but was 36% on draws in 11:35. His line played well on the forecheck.
James Wright was -1 in 10:37.
Victor Hedman had 1 shot in 17:01.
Grabbed a point in a very tough spot.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 38 shots for the overtime loss.
TB 6:18, Szczechura 2 (unassisted)
DAL 15:44, Robidas 7 (Modano, Richards)(PP)
DAL 16:55, Lehtinen 1 (Richards, Robidas)(PP)
DAL 3:34, Morrow 10 (Benn, Ribeiro)(PP)
TB 15:06, Stamkos 17 (Meszaros)(PP)
TB 15:53, Halpern 3 (Tanguay, Hedman)
DAL 2:12, Wandell 4 (Eriksson)
It's tough to hop on the plane after playing last night and fall behind by a couple of goals, so lots of credit to the Lightning for coming back and clawing away a point.
Zenon Konopka had 3 hits in 5:49.
Paul Szczechura had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 13:15. He's really coming on.
James Wright was +1 with 5 hits in 11:30.
Victor Hedman had a helper, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 21:21.
Quite simply the best game the Lightning have played this season.
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory.
TB 6:54, Stamkos 16 (St Louis, Hedman)
TB 19:24, Foster 2 (St Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 8:05, Downie 3 (St Louis, Stamkos)(PP)
TB 12:25, Szczechura 1 (Wright, Walker)
TB 8:24, Foster 3 (Konopka)
NYR 17:53, Callahan 4 (Anisimov, Staal)
The Lightning have struggled to get shots on goal, and they finally got to 30 tonight (31) even with the Rangers blocking quite a few shots (14). If the Lightning can get up over 30 shots a game consistently, I believe they're going to start scoring 3-4 goals a night and they've got enough goaltending to make it stand up.
More than just the shots and the goals, though, I thought the Lightning also physically handled the Rangers. Walker and Konopka both treated Brian Boyle like a speed bag with eyes and the Lightning outhit the Rangers 15-13.
One other thing: Recent BoltProspects graduate Steve Downie and Kurtis Foster are really coming on lately. Downie, in particular, has an unbelievable knack for breaking up passes and clearing attempts along the wall. He's a lot like fellow little guy Martin St. Louis in that respect.
Zenon Konopka had an assist and was +1 with 17 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:16. He was also 75% on draws, including the clean win that got him the helper on Foster's second goal. More than that, though, he landed a couple of nice bombs on Brian Boyle after Boyle made a dangerous hit on young Mr. Wright.
Paul Szczechura got his nose bloodied and then responded with a 1 goal, +1 performance with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and he was 69% on draws in 14:34. It was his best game of the season, and given the circumstances Coach Tocchet may want to take a stick and pop Chewey square in the nose before every game.
James Wright had a helper and was +1 in 13:55.
Victor Hedman had 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 21:33. He's looked a little lost without Ohlund, but he played a strong, workmanlike game tonight.
Apologies for the lateness of this post, and apologies for the Lightning stubbing their toe for their first regulation loss at home of the year.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 4 goals on 30 shots for the loss. It was an uncharacteristic performance for Niitty.
TOR 6:45, Kulemin 4 (Gunnarsson, Primeau)
TOR 11:54, Hagman 10 (Beauchemin, Gunnarsson)
TB 14:14, Meszaros 3 (Downie, Stamkos)(PP)
TB 14:44, Lecavalier 5 (Halpern, Tanguay)
TOR 1:20, Hagman 11 (Grabovski, Exelby)
TB 7:51, Malone 15 (Stamkos, St Louis)
TOR 18:13, Stajan 6 (Gunnarsson)
Zenon Konopka had 2 hits in 9:44.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 shot in 10:14.
James Wright was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 12:07.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 2 penalty minutes in 17:01.