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AHL Game Night: 12-19-14 Crunch at Wolf Pack

The yak is still on the loose.

SYR-2
HFD-0

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 24 shots he faced for the victory and his first shutout of the campaign. He's won his last 4 starts allowing just 3 total goals in the last 3 of those starts, while running his season save percentage back up to .906 in the process. Now things get very interesting in Syracuse, once Vasilevskiy returns, because this is what we expected coming into the year. These are two of the best prospect netminders around, and they'll be in a knock-down, drag-out for starts all season long. The competition is going to push both guys to play better than they ever thought possible. It's going to be great to see unfold.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Richard, (5) (Koekkoek), 2:12
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Nesterov, Marchessault)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Gudlevskis and Tanner Richard were the game's first and second stars. As of this posting, Richard's +18 mark is second best in the AHL behind the +21 of Manchester's Nick Shore. I should also point out that, on top of the game winning helper he had tonight, Nikita Nesterov hasn't had a minus game in a full month, when he had a -1 outing on 11/19 against Hartford. He's been +9 since that game, taking him up to +9 for the year. He was -2 last year and the 13 points he has in 28 games this season is 3 off the 16 he posted as a rookie in 54 games last season. So, like Richard, here's a player who had some holes in his game who seems to be rounding the corner a bit. Nice to see. Slater Koekkoek, oh by the way, has helpers in 3 of the last 4 games.

Tomorrow, Syracuse draws Albany at home.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-19-14 Lightning at Devils

Lightning manage to wrestle 1 point out of the quicksand.

TB-2
NJ-3 (SO)

Evgeny Nabokov allowed 2 goals on 18 shots before allowing 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. I'll give him full marks for battling tonight, but that was hard to watch. The first goal was a fluky goal that he put into his own cage. Okay. But, the second goal cannot be allowed at any level of hockey and he got the benefit of 5 or 6 posts tonight on top of that. The Lightning have a real issue there, and the solution may be figuring out some way to shuttle one of the two good goaltenders they have in Syracuse up in back-to-back situations from here on out, which is a roster challenge, but may be necessary. You could've timed that second goal from shot to net with a sun dial it fluttered so slowly.

First Period
3:01 NJ Henrique (9), (Greene, Gomez)(PP)
15:17 NJ Elias (4), (Havlat, Henrique)

Second Period
14:55 TB Stamkos (19), (Callahan, Drouin)

Third Period
19:19 TB Kucherov (13), (Callahan, Garrison)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
NJ- Elias

Nikita Kucherov was the game's first star.

Glass half full: they managed to squeeze a point out of a game where they trailed New Jersey in the Third Period. That's no small feat, and part of climbing out of the big hole that they were in was one of the better passing displays we've seen in the last 3-4 weeks, especially in the Second Period. I also thought Radko Gudas, coming off a stomach bug, might've played his best game of the season tonight at both ends of the rink.

Glass half empty: the goaltending was bad. The power play might've actually been worse, though. 0-for-5 on the power play tonight and one was a key double minor in the Third Period while they were pushing to tie the game where they got nothing going. Nothing. At some point as the season progresses, Yzerman seriously needs to find a righty PP QB to acquire via trade. Nothing they're doing to try to free up Stamkos with lefties at center point is working, and it's becoming counterproductive trying to force set pieces his way or asking him to force passes back through the seam to Filppula, who can't do anything with them because he's not a shooter.

Cedric Paquette had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 12:39 and he also was 44% on draws.

Jonathan Drouin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 21:15. Circle that ice time number. Playing with Stamkos for the full game, this was the first time Cooper really let Drouin out of the stable, and I think Stamkos in particular responded well with 10 shot attempts tonight. My big thing with Drouin now, though, is that team's are playing him as a pass first guy. He needs to shoot it more. 2 shots is more than he's been getting, but he only had 3 shot attempts total. I want to see him at a minimum of 4 shot attempts a game from here on out. Stamkos won't mind, Jonathan. 91 likes rebound goals, too.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 12-18-14

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 1 @ Sherbrooke Phoenix 2

C Cameron Darcy, SHR: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 6/14 FO, 1 Hit, *First Star*
With Sherbrooke: 3 GP, 1-3-4, -3, 4 PIM
With Cape Breton: 21 GP, 1-13-14, -6, 14 PIM
Season totals: 24 GP, 2-16-18, -9, 18 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 65 GP, 35-47-82, +3, 51 PIM

Darcy extended his point streak to five games when he scored the game-winning goal for the Phoenix early in the third period. It was Darcy’s 100th career point and first goal with his new team.

Ontario Hockey League

Saginaw Spirit 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 1

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 26 GP, 9-6-15, -12, 43 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM

The Spits put up 38 shots on Spirit goalie Jake Paterson (Red Wings), but could only beat him once.

Notes: The following players remain out of their respective lineups:
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw) is with Team Canada for the World Junior Championships
Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia) and Adam Erne (Quebec) are with Team USA
Dominik Masin (Peterborough) is with Team Czech Republic
Ben Thomas (Calgary) remains out with a lower body injury

ECHL Game Night: 12-17-14

Gwinnett Gladiators 4 at Florida Everblades 5

D Artem Sergeev, FLA: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 18 GP, 5-4-9, +7, 6 PIM, 28 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, FLA, Recalled to Syracuse (AHL)
Season totals: 15 GP, 12-2-0-1, 2.23 GAA, 0.906 SV%, 2 SO

F Kevin Lynch, FLA: 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 10 GP, 2-5-7, -4, 10 PIM, 16 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 10 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 10 PIM

F Jeff Costello, FLA: 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 14 GP, 4-3-7, +3, 20 PIM, 29 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

F Mike Aviani, FLA: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 15 GP, 4-4-8, +1, 11 PIM, 28 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM

Life, at least temporarily, without Allen York began for the Everblades Wednesday night after his recall to Syracuse earlier in the week as part of the ripple effect of the Ben Bishop injury. Gwinnett jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but the Blades stormed back scoring five straight, topped off by Bolt prospect Artem Sergeev's power-play marker early in the 3rd that would become the eventual game-winner. Kevin Lynch, fresh off signing his AHL contract with Syracuse, tallied in his first game back with Florida. Both Jeff Costello and Mike Aviani had helpers in the five-goal run. Gwinnett, losers of four straight, will get another chance to end the East Division leader's six-game win streak on Friday night.

Wichita Thunder 2 at Tulsa Oilers 1

F Danick Gauthier, WIC: 0-0-0, +1, 4 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 25 GP, 12-13-25, E, 35 PIM, 85 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 1 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM

D Daniel Milan, WIC: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 25 GP, 0-5-5, -5, 53 PIM, 28 SOG

Following up on last weekend's five-zip shutout, Wichita notched its first win in seven attempts against arch-rival Tulsa on Wednesday night. Next game Friday night against Rapid City.

AHL Game Night: 12-17-14 Crunch at Americans

The Killer G's.

SYR-3
RCH-2

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. That's two straight quality starts for Kristers since Vasilevskiy started to show his Latvian tandem-mate his tail lights, and he squared his save percentage away at exactly .900 with his effort tonight.

First Period
SYR Paradis, (7) (Mormina, Gourde), 1:19
RCH Ellis, (7) (McCabe, Pysyk), 18:20 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Gourde, (12) (Richard, Koekkoek), 5:24
RCH Ruhwedel, (6) (Irwin), 11:28 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Blunden, (4) (Angelidis, Kunyk), 2:14

Yanni Gourde and Mike Blunden were the game's first and second stars. Gourde, who along with Gudlevskis was the other Killer G in tonight's contest, is now tied for 3rd in the league in goals, as of this posting. He's just 2 back of the league leader right now and is doing his best to be the next diminutive, undrafted Lightning gem, following in the footsteps of Conacher and Johnson before him.

Here's a stat that you could've won a lot of money with before this season: Tanner Richard is tied for second in the league in +/- right now at +17. His point tonight helped him match his scoring totals from all of last season (17 points) in 38 less games, and his +/- has improved dramatically from the -9 mark he posted last year. The light has come on for the pesky Richard, who looks to fit a future role as a two-way third liner who can create as a playmaker and has a little bit of instigator's edge to him, too.

Syracuse's win moves them into a tie with Springfield for the division lead at 37 points and they currently sit at second in the Eastern Conference by virtue of this 7-game winning streak/magic carpet ride they're on. Although they don't yet have the ridiculously good defensive stats and goal differential, this is starting to take on the appearance of one of the old Jon Cooper teams: long winning streaks, plenty of goals, and also, at this moment, tied for second in the league in penalty minutes, too. Fast, talented, and rough and tough when they need to be.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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