Total third period implosion.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 19 shots before giving way to Jonathan Boutin who fared even worse allowing 2 goals on 5 shots. Justin Keller and Norm Milley had Springfield's goals with assists belonging to Marek Kvapil, Jay Rosehill and Daniel Corso. Unfortunately, after hanging around for the first 40 minutes of the game, Springfield self destructed and allowed 4 goals in the final frame. The Falcons also had an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead early in the game on a David Spina penalty shot, but Spina failed to score and a Bruins goal in the final minutes of the first evened the game up.
Positives: with Kyle Wanvig up in Tampa on recall, Kvapil was moved back up to the second line with Keller and Spina and the three responded. Kvapil had the assist and 2 shots on goal, Spina had 4 shots and Keller had a team high 5 shots on goal. Hopefully the youngsters can keep it up. Remember, a couple of years ago Paul Ranger and Evgeny Artyukhin really came on at the end of the year (especially Ranger in the last dozen games) and it catapulted them into the NHL early the next year. Even though Springfield's playoff chances are slim and none, these young players still have a lot of developmental time left to capitalize on and once the college and junior team seasons start to end there will be an opportunity for the Lightning to identify some players to sign to ATO contracts with a view toward shaping next year's roster. There's still a lot to play for here.
SPR Keller, (10) (Kvapil, Rosehill), 2:10
PRO Rosa, (2) (Karsums, Lashoff), 19:21
PRO Trevelyan, (19) (Hoggan, Zinger), 6:16
PRO Trevelyan, (20) (Walter), 2:23
PRO Rosa, (3) (Talbot, Zinger), 7:07
SPR Milley, (19) (Corso), 7:30
PRO Karsums, (13) (Glenn, Lashoff), 14:32 (PP)
PRO Curry, (4) (Pelletier), 15:12 (PP)
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Lion= Lightning, Antelope=Thrashers
Johan Holmqvist stopped 23 of 26 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier led the way with 2 goals and 1 assist while Martin St. Louis had 1 goal and 2 assists. The other member of the MVP Line, Vaclav Prospal, had helpers in triplicate. Brad Richards dropped 1 goal and 1 assist including a salty game winning slap shot on the power play and Ruslan Fedotenko had a pair of assists. The Lightning's insurance goal came from Eric Perrin and Paul Ranger chipped in 1 assist.
The Lightning temporarily move within 3 points of division leading Atlanta while the Thrashers are playing on the road tonight in Calgary. A little over midway through the game at the Saddledome, Atlanta is down 3-1. If the score holds, the Lightning will not only have shaved a once commanding division lead down to 3 points but they'll still also hold 2 critical games in hand.
Tampa Bay 5:56, Vincent Lecavalier 36 (Vaclav Prospal, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 7:52, Martin St. Louis 33 (Vincent Lecavalier, Vaclav Prospal)
Phoenix 8:18, Mike Zigomanis 10 (Oleg Saprykin, Georges Laraque)
Phoenix 11:48, Oleg Saprykin 11 (Keith Ballard, Mike Zigomanis)
Tampa Bay 15:19, Vincent Lecavalier 37 (Martin St. Louis, Paul Ranger)
Phoenix 18:16, Derek Morris 4 (Travis Roche, Shane Doan)
Tampa Bay 1:24, Brad Richards 20 (power play) (Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 11:45, Eric Perrin 9 (Ruslan Fedotenko, Brad Richards)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Think Atlanta is starting to hear footsteps?
Johan Holmqvist stopped 24 of 26 shots faced in the win and has won 8 of his last 9 starts. King Holmer officially en fuego. Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis each had a pair of assists on the night with the Lightning goals belonging to Paul Ranger, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier (Lecavalier and Richards' goals being of the blistering/unstoppable power play variety). Eric Perrin and Ryan Craig added individual helpers.
The Lightning are cooler than the other side of the pillow in one goal games right now. It took a while for this team to find its confidence, but right now they've got swagger. And, don't look now, but by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to Philly the Lightning have now moved within six points of the division lead with a game still in hand. Furthermore, the Lightning have now tied the Thrashers with 29 wins and, looking at the schedule, the Lightning get the worst team in the Western Conference Tuesday night (Los Angeles) and the Thrashers get to play the best in the East (Buffalo). This thing could EASILY be down to 4 points with a game in hand if the Lightning stay focused and take care of business against the Kings. If I'm Thrashers GM Don Waddell, I'm having Doctor Feel Good call in a 'scrip for Valium right about now.
This is fun.
NY Rangers 7:31, Jason Krog 3 (Brendan Shanahan, Marcel Hossa)
Tampa Bay 6:51, Paul Ranger 3 (Dan Boyle, Eric Perrin)
Tampa Bay 14:06, Brad Richards 19 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis)
NY Rangers 18:23, Michael Nylander 17 (power play) (Jaromir Jagr, Karel Rachunek)
Tampa Bay 11:53, Vincent Lecavalier 33 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Ryan Craig)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
All hail King Holmer.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 32 shots faced in overtime and regulation before stopping 2 of 2 in the shootout to remain a perfect 15 for 15 in the shootout this season. A bit of a softie on the Richardson goal tonight, but Holmqvist made up for it on several stops tonight. This was not necessarily a game the Lightning deserved to win, but as road warriors they've been finding ways to grind out two points out of these games lately. The win is the Lightning's sixth straight road win which is a new team record.
Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning offensively. Ruslan Fedotenko had the other Lightning goal (and played great tonight) and Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle, Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba added individual helpers. Lecavalier and Brad Richards (who also played great tonight) had the Lightning's shootout talleys.
For anyone wondering, Blair Jones played just 4 shifts tonight for 2:36 of ice time. He had 1 blocked shot and was 2-for-2 on faceoffs. His last three shifts he must've been in stealth mode, because his first period shift was the only time I saw him all night.
The win, coupled with a Carolina loss against Toronto tonight, moves the Lightning within 2 points of second place in the Southeast Division with a game in hand and the Hurricanes on the slate for Thursday night. The team also maintains pace with Atlanta 10 points back of the division lead with 1 game in hand on the Thrashers and 2 head-to-head matchups remaining on the schedule. The Lightning can almost certainly make a run at this, especially with the bottomfeeding Panthers on the schedule 5 more times.
Tampa Bay 6:32, Martin St. Louis 31 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle)
Philadelphia 7:23, Mike Richards 2 (shorthanded) (Alexei Zhitnik, Joni Pitkanen)
Philadelphia 18:49, Jeff Carter 7 (shorthanded) (Simon Gagne, Denis Gauthier)
Tampa Bay 19:24, Ruslan Fedotenko 11 (power play) (Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger)
Philadelphia 3:13, Peter Forsberg 9 (Joni Pitkanen)
Tampa Bay 12:06, Vincent Lecavalier 31 (Filip Kuba, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay: Lecavalier, Richards
Game sheet from NHL.com.
The Eastern Conference YoungStars defeated their Western Conference counterparts 9-8 tonight. Lightning defenseman and Bolt Prospects alumni Paul Ranger did well in the game with 1 goal and 2 assists. Ranger was +1 with 1 shot on goal in 10:42 of ice time.
And the road warriors keep rolling...
Marc Denis stopped 30 of 35 before stopping 4 of 4 shooters for the extra extra session win. It wasn't pretty, but with the chips down Denis got it done. Vaclav Prospal and Martin St. Louis each had 1 goal and 2 assists in the win. YoungStar Paul Ranger added 1 goal and 1 assist and Doug Janik (AKA Secret Weapon 3) had 2 assists. Vincent Lecavalier and Filip Kuba had the Lightning's other goals with Kuba's being a smoking slap shot on the rush to tie the game with 2:54 left in regulation. Nikita Alexeev and Eric Perrin had individual helpers.
If you look up "sore losers" in the dictionary, you might spot the Carolina press corps. Denying Prospal a three stars selection on a night when he had 3 points? Ridiculous. Giving first star to a guy who had a couple of goals bounce in off of him? More so.
I wish there wasn't an All-Star Break at all, because this Lightning team is rolling like a battle hardened war machine right now. To go into Buffalo, New Jersey and now defending champion Carolina and grind out 2 points in hostile road environments should make the league take notice. The Lightning appear done messing around this season. The character of a real contender is starting to show. Now they just need Feaster to pull the trigger on one or two more trades to get them the reinforcements to put this team over the top. The Lightning now move 2 points behind Carolina for 2nd place in the division and remain 8 points back of Atlanta. Lurking. Waiting for the Smirkin' Chikins to slip. The Lightning have also opened a 4 point gap on a gaggle of teams in 8th place and are within 5 points of 4th place Montreal for a little first round home ice.
Carolina 5:32, Eric Staal 21 (power play) (Scott Walker, Andrew Hutchinson)
Tampa Bay 6:51, Vaclav Prospal 8 (Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle)
Carolina 18:23, Eric Staal 22 (Scott Walker, Anton Babchuk)
Carolina 0:34, Ray Whitney 19 (Dennis Seidenberg, Justin Williams)
Tampa Bay 3:22, Vincent Lecavalier 30 (Martin St. Louis, Paul Ranger)
Carolina 7:35, Andrew Ladd 4 (Anton Babchuk, Justin Williams)
Tampa Bay 8:06, Paul Ranger 2 (Nikita Alexeev, Eric Perrin)
Tampa Bay 12:02, Martin St. Louis 30 (Vaclav Prospal, Doug Janik)
Carolina 9:31, Scott Walker 16 (Andrew Hutchinson, Andrew Ladd)
Tampa Bay 17:06, Filip Kuba 8 (Vaclav Prospal, Doug Janik)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
What a big win to keep the fledgling streak alive.
Marc Denis stopped 32 of 34 shots faced for the win. The second goal he allowed to Kotalik was obviously inexcusable, but other than that I thought he played an outstanding game particularly in that third period where the Lightning were under siege getting outshot 13-5. Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle and Brad Richards had the Lightning goals. Martin St. Louis, Paul Ranger and Ruslan Fedotenko had individual helpers. Ranger, in particular, made a great play to set up Richards' third period game winner.
With his 41st game of the season tonight, Nick Tarnasky has graduated from prospect status by Bolt Prospects criteria. Tarnasky will be moved to the Bolt Prospects Alumni section on the prospects page once we release our Midterm Rankings for the organization within the next week. Congratulations to Tarnasky who played an even 10 minutes tonight. In the last couple of weeks he's finally started to become more than a spot shifter and started to really contribute to the team's success on a nightly basis. That's a 9th round pick folks. The Lightning have given Nick the opportunity and his hard work has carried him the rest of the way.
The Lightning move to 2 games over .500 and will establish a small measure of breathing room between them and Toronto which is getting pasted tonight by Vancouver.
Monday, noon. 5 in a row?
Tampa Bay 10:05, Vincent Lecavalier 27 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Buffalo 4:06, Jason Pominville 20 (Jaroslav Spacek, Daniel Briere)
Buffalo 4:50, Ales Kotalik 13 (Brian Campbell)
Tampa Bay 15:38, Dan Boyle 10 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 6:56, Brad Richards 15 (Paul Ranger, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Game sheet from NHL.com.