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Juniors Game Night: 4-9-16

United States Hockey League

Omaha Lancers 5 @ Tri-City Storm 4 (OT)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 31 GP, 12-15-4, 2.82 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Omaha got a big win over Tri-City for the second night in a row, so they will finish their year with a win. The Lancers did not make the playoffs. Oldham's junior career ends quietly as he was relegated to backup duty the last month or so. He is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Dubuque Fighting Saints 6 @ Waterloo Black Hawks 2

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
With Dubuque: 16 GP, 0-4-4, +5, 8 PIM
With Sioux City: 30 GP, 0-23-23, -7, 51 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Dubuque outshot JT Brown’s former club, 40-22, en route to a 6-2 win. The Saints made the playoffs.

NHL Game Night: 4-9-16 Lightning at Canadiens

Lightning mail in meaningless game before a very meaningful postseason.

TB-2
MTL-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss. Vasiy had a respectable season for a young backup, and I think anyone who didn't have such high expectations on him as Andrei does would take that at 21 years old and be pretty happy with it. That said, he can get a lot better and he eventually will.

First Period
5:11 MTL Galchenyuk(29), (Gallagher)
16:27 MTL Plekanec(14), (Eller, Emelin)

Second Period
0:27 MTL Pacioretty(29), (Galchenyuk, Markov)
3:44 MTL Galchenyuk(30), (Pacioretty, Markov)(PP)

Third Period
6:33 TB Palat(16), (Filppula)
13:00 TB Drouin(4), (Carle, Palat)
19:54 MTL Pacioretty(30), (Gallagher)(EN)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star. It may have been garbage time, but it's certainly nice to see him developing some chemistry with some of the Lightning's scoring liners like Palat.

Coming into the game with nothing to gain and Hedman and Kucherov being held out with nagging injuries, the only thing the Lightning wanted was to get out of town healthy. This game had less meaning than a preseason game, if that's possible, and unfortunately they couldn't even pull that off after Greg Pateryn boarded Tyler Johnson shoulder-first into the boards after the whistle late in the First Period. I am thoroughly unimpressed with Pateryn. The guy's a bum, quite frankly, and the play he made was about as blatant and egregious a late hit as it comes. The guy deserves a suspension that carries over into the next regular season, in my opinion.

The Lightning will draw Detroit in a rematch of last year's opening round series by virtue of the epic meltdown the Bruins had against Ottawa. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys (Boston melting down, that is). I'd like to say that's a favorable outcome for the Lightning, but with so much uncertainty now with Johnson possibly being banged up too, the biggest matchup of all looks like it's between Tampa Bay and the injury bug. The big thing in Game One, I think, will be Ben Bishop giving the Lightning a good performance and helping them ease their way into the series while they continue to figure out lines and pairing combinations and ice time rotations. There's just so much retrofitting on the fly and Ben's going to need to be the spackle to cover up some of that mess.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 15:30.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-9-16 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch score bittersweet victory against one of the league's top teams.

TOR-2
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped all 5 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the victory.

First Period
TOR Conacher, (2) (C. Smith, Valiev), 0:33
SYR Tambellini, (27) , 6:33
SYR Stephens, (1) (Broll), 11:53

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
TOR Arcobello, (25) (Corrin, Leivo), 4:45

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- None
SYR- Vermin

Joel Vermin and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars. Recent ATO signee Mitchell Stephens scored his first pro goal in the win, as well, and led all Crunch skaters with 5 shots on goal.

It was a big win against a very talented Toronto team that by far and away has had the best regular season in the AHL. Unfortunately, the Crunch didn't get any help in the other games around the league and were eliminated from making the postseason. It's a shame for a Syracuse team that's really seemed to find itself in the last quarter of the regular season and had a nice stretch run. As it is, they should finish well over .500 for the campaign with some momentum going into the offseason and some nice new blood coming onto the roster.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Top Marlies, But Playoff Hopes Dashed


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch pulled out a win, but their playoff hopes were dashed.

Joel Vermin netted the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout, as the Crunch topped the Toronto Marlies, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. Both Utica and Bridgeport also earned points to mathematically eliminate Syracuse from earning a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.

“We knew it was going to be a tough stretch and we needed a (lot) of help to make it happen,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “We put ourselves in this position. … It was good to get the win, but it’s certainly disappointing that we’re in this position and not in the playoffs.”

AHL Game Night 4-8-16: Devils at Crunch

Syracuse leaves a critical point on the rink.

ALB-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 32 shots and 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.

First Period
SYR Gourde, (14) (Erne, Richard), 9:29 (PP)
ALB O’Neill, (12) (Lorito, Novak), 12:10

Second Period
SYR Erne, (14) (Gourde, Witkowski), 5:26
ALB Lorito, (18) (Lappin, O’Neill), 13:23

Third Period
ALB Kujawinski, (5) (Rooney), 2:05
SYR Richard, (11) (Vermin, DeAngelo), 5:35

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
ALB- Thompson
SYR- NONE

Adam Erne and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars.

Syracuse falls 7 points back of Utica and Bridgeport in the playoff chase with both teams holding a game in hand on the Crunch. At this point, to make the postseason, it's pretty much going to take Syracuse winning out and one of those other two clubs losing out. Both scenarios seem incredibly unlikely.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

USHL Game Night: 4-8-16

United States Hockey League

Tri-City Storm 4 @ Omaha Lancers 5

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 31 GP, 12-15-4, 2.82 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Omaha got a big home win over Tri-City and are two points ahead of Des Moines for sixth in the West. Oldham has sat for seven of the past eight games.

Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 4

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 45 GP, 0-27-27, -3, 57 PIM
With Dubuque: 15 GP, 0-4-4, +4, 6 PIM
With Sioux City: 30 GP, 0-23-23, -7, 51 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Zuhlsdorf was scoreless, but plus-2 against his former club.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-8-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2
QMJHL Second Round
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 3 Hits
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 3-4-7, +9, 16 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Charlottetown evened its series with Shawinigan Friday, winning 3-2 on the road. Yan opened the game’s scoring with his third goal of the playoffs before Charlottetown struck twice. The Cataractes tied the game at 14:33 of the third period before the Islanders notched the game-winner three minutes later. Game 3 is Sunday on PEI.

Western Hockey League

Moose Jaw Warriors 3 @ Brandon Wheat Kings 5
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Brandon leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 3-9-12, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM

The Warriors dropped a 5-3 decision in Game 1 to Brandon in Manitoba. Point was second star for earning a goal and an assist in the game. Moose Jaw had leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in the game before ultimately falling. Game 2 is Saturday.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-7-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 1
QMJHL Second Round
Cape Breton leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 6 Hits
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 0-1-1, -3, 6 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Cape Breton stole home ice advantage with a 4-1 win in Game 1 of their best-of-7 second round series with third-seeded Saint John. Lightning prospect Mathieu Joseph remains out of the playoffs with a cut calf muscle that required surgery. Boko Imama led the Sea Dogs in hits with six, twice as many as everyone else. Saint John’s scorers will have to step up in the absence of Joseph, who was a team leader on and off the scoresheet.

Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 5
QMJHL Second Round
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 2-4-6, +8, 16 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

The Cataractes had a 4-0 lead by the time the second period was only five minutes old, then got a little scare when the Islanders scored two quick goals in the next six minutes. Shawinigan held on for the victory. Yan had two primary assists. He had only two regular season multi-point games after January 11, one of which was the last game of the season.

NOTES: AHL Syracuse added three prospects yesterday, including Dominik Masin and Matthew Spencer of Peterborough, and Jonne Tammela, who was recently signed by the Lightning after his season completed in Finland.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-7-16

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
CSKA 5 vs. Magnitogorsk 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 26/30, 4.48 GAA, .867 sv%
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 10-3-0, 2 SO, 1.65 GAA, .945 sv%
Regular season totals: 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%

CSKA scored 5 unanswered goals to crush Magnitogorsk 5-1 in Game One of the Gagarin Cup Final. Ex-Predators first rounder Alexander Radulov was one of 5 different goal scorers for CSKA in the win. Ex-Bolt Prospect Artem Sergeev had a helper in the victory, as well.

NHL Game Night: 4-8-16 Lightning at Devils

Drouinsanity returns to the Lightning and helps secure home ice for the first round.

TB-4
NJ-2

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the victory. I reiterate one of the biggest virtues of Bishop since he's joined the Lightning: he typically does not have two clunkers in a row.

First Period
5:45 TB Condra(6), (Sustr, Boyle)

Second Period
7:16 NJ Kalinin(7), (Moore, Gionta)
14:45 TB Paquette(6), (Filppula, Carle)

Third Period
3:50 TB Drouin(3), (Namestnikov)
9:26 NJ Kalinin(8), (Farnham)
19:13 TB Filppula(8), (Kucherov, Carle)(EN)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's second star.

For a Lightning team that hasn't had a ton to feel good about lately, tonight was a bit of psychological salve for their wounds. For the second time in the past few weeks, the Lightning played the style of game they need to in order to be successful without Stralman and Stamkos and secured a win against a hard working, fairly well structured opponent. In doing so, they got some positive results from players who have had a tough time of it all season who they now need to step up if they're going to weather their early opponents in the postseason. There's no doubt Erik Condra's playing some of his best hockey of the season lately after having gone missing for some 3/4 of the campaign. Cedric Paquette finally got back in the goal column for the first time in a blue moon, which is also a hopeful sign. It's hard to believe Paquette has sagged to just 6 goals after how well he played in the postseason last year including actually outplaying Jonathan Toews head to head in the early games of the Stanley Cup Final. And then there's 2/3 of the Dead Money Trio: Matt Carle and Valtteri Filppula. Is Matt Carle still a turnstile with eyeballs at times? Yes. Does Matt Carle still do some gobsmacking idiotic things when he has the puck at times? Yes. Has he improved somewhat, though, to help fill minutes in the absence of Stralman and Hedman? Absolutely. No denying it. And then there's Valtteri Filppula, who might be the single biggest source of my personal frustration this season. He actually provided a multi-point night tonight and I would've lost a bet if anyone had asked me to go in on whether he'd have another goal by the end of the regular season. Are 8 goals sufficient for a centerman at his salary price point? You all know the answer to that. But, a good postseason performance has a way of glossing over a disappointing regular season.

And then there's Jonathan Drouin. I feel really happy for both the Lightning organization and Drouin in how things have unfolded since Drouin decided to report back to Syracuse. The Lightning got to enforce organizational discipline and got Drouin the instructional coaching and conditioning he needed. And, Drouin capitalized when the opportunity to get back into the NHL finally came, which again proves what upside he has as a player. So, at this hour, both sides have to feel like they "won" something in a scenario where neither can have felt all that great about everything that's happened. Where it goes from here? That's another matter. Short term, Drouin's walking into a situation that seems tailor made for him to step up and prove he's a budding superstar. But, being asked to fill Steven Stamkos' shoes is a double edged sword that is, frankly, an unreasonable expectation for Drouin to have to live up to. Reason needs to prevail here in the expectation game. Drouin's not going to score the GWG every night and he's not going to instantly fill the shoes of one of the 10-20 best scorers in the game overnight. Fans, the organization, and the Drouin camp alike need to have reasonable targets for his performance, such as ensuring that scoring chances he helps create outpace those he surrenders (he won't be perfect defensively, some mistakes will happen) at a reasonable ratio, and that he's chipping in every 2-3 games. If he can do that, all sides involved should be happy with that, and it should open the door to any number of scenarios that include everything from Drouin's trade request being honored for a solid return or Drouin returning to Tampa Bay as a valued member of the organization (Vincent Lecavalier ultimately learned to live with and respect John Tortorella, so all things are possible with patience and if people act like adults). Anything more will be gravy.

The win clinches the #2 position in the Atlantic Division and home ice in the first round, while the Lightning also leapt over that 96 point target line for the season just 1 game behind schedule. That means they'll draw Detroit or Boston in the first round. Detroit would be more ideal, in my opinion, and they'd be the opponent if the shooting began right now, but they got smoked head to head by Boston tonight heading into their regular season finale against the Rangers whereas Boston draws a seemingly less difficult challenge against the Senators. Both teams are knotted in points, but DET has the tiebreaker because of their ROW advantage of 1 whole game. It's that tight.

Matt Taormina had 2 blocked shots in 17:01. It's a nice little late season reward for Taormina to get to suit up against his old organization and get a W against them.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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