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NHL Game Night: 12-12-15 Capitals at Lightning

Hardworking Lightning nearly pull off the comeback.

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Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 20 shots for the loss. In a night where the goaltenders with the two best GAA's in the league played each other, Holtby bested Bishop by a wide mile. I won't get too upset by a premium skill play like Kuznetsov's wraparound, but Beagle's goal short side off the back of Bishop's arm was as soft as they get. And, as soft goals often are, that goal ended up being the margin.

First Period
2:09 WSH Beagle (4), (Galiev)

Second Period
11:16 WSH Kuznetsov (9), (Carlson)

Third Period
8:05 TB Kucherov (11), (Stralman, Stamkos)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman were the game's second and third stars.

After getting embarrassed in their last encounter with the Capitals, the Lightning acquitted themselves far better in the rematch. They jumped all over the Caps early and they absolutely dominated the Third Period, but Braden Holtby was fantastic. The Lightning had a 36-20 shot advantage, even while playing with just 10 forwards, and it was only Holtby's confident play between the pipes and Bishop's soft goal that kept the Lightning from getting a big win.

It's a tough pill to swallow that's made extra bitter by the fact the Lightning lost Tyler Johnson for a week prior to the game and lost Ondrej Palat to what appeared to be an ankle injury early in the First Period. If it's a re-injury of the same ankle, that's two bits of really bad luck that will continue to put the Lightning in a really tough position offensively.

The Lightning finish Segment Three of the season with 12 points in 10 games. They remain 5 points behind pace for the season because of their disastrous Segment Two. A win tonight would've been a boon for the team in helping them to cut into their deficit. As it is, though, it's back to the grind for Segment Four.

Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 4 shots and 3 hits in 15:05.

Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:26.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Liiga Game Day: 12-12-15

Karpat 5 vs. KalPa 3
Jonne Tammela, KalPa, DNP
Season totals: 18 GP, 3-1-4, E, 14 PIM

Blue Jackets 7th rounder Markus Nutivaara had 4 assists to pace Karpat in their 5-3 win over KalPa. KalPa is now 0-2 since Lightning prospect Jonne Tammela departed for U20 WJC camp.

Juniors Game Night: 12-11-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 5 @ Halifax Mooseheads 8

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, -2, 5 PIM, 0 SOG, 2 Hit
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-2-2, -2, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 28 GP, 14-15-29, +11, 35 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Lots of theatrics in Halifax tonight as Imama was ejected for leaving the bench to start a fight in defense of 15-year-old Joe Veleno, who was jumped by 20-year-old overager Kelly Bent. Imama kept throwing punches long after the linesmen tried to break up the fight, then spit in the direction of Halifax goalie (and former Lightning camper) Eric Brassard. His night will get him suspended for several other nights, possibly 15 or more. In game action, San Jose first rounder (9th overall) Timo Meier had two goals and six points in the game.

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Shawinigan Cataractes 4 @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 5 (OT)

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 27 GP, 22-22-44, +1, 33 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Dennis Yan is now scoreless in two straight games after having an 8-game point streak. This is the first time this season that Yan’s gone without a point in consecutive games.

Ontario Hockey League

Niagara IceDogs 2 @ Oshawa Generals 3

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 6/25 FO
Season totals: 27 GP, 8-16-24, -8, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Anthony Cirelli had his 3-game, 2-point-per-game streak end, but his Gens rode a third period comeback to a 3-2 win.

Windsor Spitfires 3 @ Sarnia Sting 0

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 11-14-25, +15, 40 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Michael DiPietro (2017) stopped 29 shots for the road shutout Friday.

Peterborough Petes 7 @ Hamilton Bulldogs 6 (OT)

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 31 GP, 3-12-15, +4, 27 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Hunter Garlent (undrafted) had a hat trick and Matt Spencer had two assists to lead the Petes to a high-scoring overtime win in Hamilton.

Western Hockey League

Victoria Royals 1 @ Vancouver Giants 4

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 33 GP, 2-11-13, -16, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 18 GP, 2-6-8, -7, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas broke a personal 6-game scoreless streak with two assists Friday.

NOTES: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), and Dominik Masin (Czech Republic) are with their respective countries preparing for the World Junior Championships. In the USHL, Kris Oldham (USA) and Ryan Zuhlsdorf (USA) are in Canada competing in the World Junior A Challenge. Zuhlsdorf had an assist and Oldham got the win stopping 10 of 11 shots in half a game in a pre-tournament exhibition USA win over Canada East today.

NCAA Game Night: 12-11-15

No. 12 Boston University Terriers 2 @ No. 15 Yale Bulldogs 3

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 16 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 14 PIM
2014-2015 totals: 37 GP, 2-7-9, +19, 58 PIM

Yale scored three unanswered goals after BU took a 1-0 lead. The Terriers scored an extra-attacker goal late, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Alabama-Huntsville Chargers 1 @ Minnesota State Mavericks 2

W Jimmy Mullin, MSU: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 12 GP, 1-0-1, -4, 2 PIM
2013-2014 totals (Miami): 19 GP, 1-6-7, 23 PIM

Minnesota State held UAH to nine total shots on goal, including three over the final two periods. The Mavericks were down 1-0 entering the final period, but prevailed.

*USCHO poll used

AHL Game Night: 12-11-15 Crunch at Devils

Vasiy can't stop the bleeding for Syracuse.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss in the first game of his conditioning stint with the Crunch.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
ALB O'Brien, (3) (Tropp, Boucher), 14:36
ALB O'Brien, (4) (Tropp, Boucher), 15:04
SYR Tambellini, (10) (Taormina, Richard), 17:24 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Burlon, (2) (Tropp), 7:38

Syracuse falls to .500 for the season and 6th in the 7 team North Division as a consequence of the defeat.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

ECHL Game Night: 12-11-15

Orlando Solar Bears 3 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 2 OT

F Brian Hart, GRN: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 20 GP, 6-2-8, -2, 2 PIM, 37 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, GRN, injured reserve
Season totals: 5 GP, 0-4-0-0, 5.61 GAA, 0.840 SV%, 0 SO

D Charlie Dodero, GRN: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 18 GP, 0-3-3, -8, 24 PIM, 16 SOG

The Solar Bears bested the Swamp Rabbits in overtime Friday night, avenging a blowout loss to Greenville the night before. Brian Hart assisted on game-tying goal in the 3rd period. Greenville travels cross-state on Saturday to take on the South Carolina Stingrays in Charleston.

Liiga Game Day: 12-11-15

KalPa 1 vs. SaiPa 3
Jonne Tammela, KalPa, DNP
Season totals: 18 GP, 3-1-4, E, 14 PIM

Ex-Maple Leafs pick Chad Rau had 1 goal and 1 assist to lead SaiPa to a 3-1 win over KalPa. Lightning prospect Jonne Tammela did not play in the match, as he's off to Finlands U20 WJC camp.

KHL Game Day: 12-11-15

St. Petersburg 5 vs. Magnitogorsk 3
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals (St. Petersburg): 15 GP, 6-10-16, +5, 0 PIM
Season totals (Khanty-Mansiysk): 23 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 4 PIM
Season totals: 38 GP, 13-17-30, +11, 4 PIM

Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 23/27, 4.02 GAA, .852 sv%
Season totals: 33 GP, 13-12-7, 0 SO, 2.31 GAA, .918 sv%

Nikita Gusev had a power play helper and an even strength helper in SKA's 5-3 win over Magnitogorsk. He played 15:11 in the match. Ex-Blue Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin had a pair of goals in defeat for Magnitka to put him at 28 for the season.

Novgorod 0 vs. CSKA 3
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 0-0-0, E, 25 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 32 GP, 8-7-15, +4, 49 PIM

Carter Ashton got a game misconduct and a major for slashing in the First Period of Novgorod's 3-0 shutout loss to CSKA. He played just 2:04 in the match. Former Syracuse Crunch Geoff Platt had 1 goal and 1 assist to pace CSKA in the win.

Juniors Game Night: 12-10-15

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 3 @ North Bay Battalion 4

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 6/15 FO
Season totals: 26 GP, 8-16-24, -8, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Anthony Cirelli opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period, but the Gens ended up allowing three straight goals in the third period to eventually lose, 4-3. Cirelli has had a goal and an assist in three consecutive games.

Mississauga Steelheads 4 @ Windsor Spitfires 3 (OT)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 25 GP, 11-14-25, +15, 40 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

DiGiacinto returned from a 5-game suspension, but the Spits fell in overtime. DiGiacinto did not register a point.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 @ Peterborough Petes 1

D Dominik Masin, PBO: Did not play (WJC)
Season totals: 29 GP, 3-10-13, +20, 28 PIM
2014-15 totals: 48 GP, 7-19-26, -13, 68 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 30 GP, 3-10-13, +2, 27 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Masin missed the game as he is with Team Czech Republic in preparation for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Finland. His usual partner, Matt Spencer, was minus-3 in Masin’s absence.

Saginaw Spirit 1 @ Niagara IceDogs 2

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: Did not play (WJC)
Season totals: 9 GP, 7-4-11, +3, 6 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

Stephens is with Team Canada preparing for the upcoming WJCs in Finland. His teammate with Canada and fellow Lightning prospect Brayden Point was kept out of practice the first day of Canada’s camp, but the coach said if it was a game Point would be healthy enough to play. They’re taking precautions with his shoulder injury.

NHL Game Night: 12-10-15 Senators at Lightning

The biggest win of the season.

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Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. In my opinion, even in the absence of goal support, Bishop's play this season is approaching the brilliance of his Vezina finalist season two years ago.

First Period
19:52 TB Kucherov (9), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
0:25 TB Filppula (3), (Brown, Callahan)
8:33 TB Kucherov (10), (unassisted)
12:06 OTT Ceci (3), (Ryan, Stone)
19:46 TB Brown (3), (Callahan)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov, Bishop, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

This was a big game for a number of reasons I'll elaborate on later, and it was obvious it was going to be a big game once the Lightning failed to get points out of the Kings game to close the road trip. I warned after that game the Lightning needed to avoid falling into the trap of playing flat as a pancake to start the first game back from a road trip. Well, my worst fears were confirmed and the first 12 minutes of the game were among the worst the Lightning have played all season. Unfocused, sloppy, turnover-riddled, just bad hockey. Chances were 6-1 in favor of Ottawa after about 10 minutes and only Bishop and Ottawa's own lack of sharpness in finishing kept the Lightning from suffering an early haymaker from the Sens. The Lightning slowly climbed back in the game and then Ottawa gave Tampa Bay a fortuitous two-man advantage where Nikita Kucherov, thank goodness, actually shot the puck and put the Lightning up 1-0. The rest of the game was a tale of Bishop's sharp play and the Lightning capitalizing on enough of their own chances along the way to build a 3 goal lead in the Third Period to seize a more leisurely feeling win for a change. Beautiful.

The standings impact cannot be understated. On a head-to-head basis, the win pulls the Lightning to within 4 points of Ottawa for 3rd in the division. Falling 8 points behind third place in the division would've been crushing. From a micro standpoint, the victory clinched a successful third 10-game segment for the season. As we've hammered home for the past 2+ seasons, you need to get at least 12 points every 10 game segment of the year to comfortably make the playoffs. The Lightning got 12 points in Segment One of the year but crashed and burned with just 7 points in Segment Two to dig a big 5 point hole for the season. One of the first rules for getting yourself out of a hole when you find yourself in one: stop digging. The Lightning did that by getting the big win tonight. You didn't want to see the Lightning going into a game against Metropolitan Division leading Washington needing 2 points just to avoid digging themselves into a deeper hole for the year. On a macro-level, that could've led to full-on disaster. Now the Lightning get a chance, if they can manage points against the Capitals, to cut into the deficit they created for the season to as little as 3 points. Ultimately, that's how the Lightning get out of the hole they've built for themselves. It's not reasonable to expect them to just go on some gigantic 8-9 game winning streak to get back into prime playoff position. They've got to keep putting together segments where they get 13, 14, 15 or so points and pay down that deficit over the span of a handful of 10-game segments.

That task should get easier as the Lightning continue to get healthier. With Ondrej Palat's return tonight, the team is now only missing Cedric Paquette from its regular lineup. Once he gets back, hopefully Jon Cooper can keep some steady line combinations in place and the Lightning can get their full 5-on-5 scoring swagger back while they continue to try and fix that thing they call a power play. If that scenario plays out, we may find the silver lining of this early season was that this Lightning team learned to be more mindful of the defensive side of the puck when they found themselves in their extended goal scoring slump. Knowing how to win games against multiple styles of opponents and being able to win games a variety of ways is the hallmark of a championship caliber club.

Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 2 penalty minutes in 8:56. He wasn't much of a factor tonight, and now we'll see the challenge that Marchessault has to overcome to stick in the NHL. With guys like Johnson and Palat returning, it's pushing Marchessault down to lower lines with less talented linemates in more of a checking role. How he adapts to that role and his ability or inability to make contributions in it will tell the tale.

Nikita Nesterov had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:32. On balance, I don't think he'll be asking Nigel Kirwan for the Blueray edition of his game film from tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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