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CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-5-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Finals

QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 7 @ QMJHL-1 Rimouski Oceanic 4
Quebec leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Adam Erne, QUE: 1-1-2, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 0 Hits, *Third Star*
Playoff totals: 16 GP, 16-6-22, +14, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM

Quebec stole home ice advantage from the Oceanic by winning Game 1 of the QMJHL Finals, 7-4. It was a 5-4 game with just over five minutes remaining in regulation before Quebec scored an insurance goal and later an empty-netter. Adam Erne scored again, giving him 16 goals in 16 playoff games. He’s scored in nine of his past 11 games. The Remparts have won 10 straight games, dating back to Game 7 of the first round. Game 2 of the Finals is Friday.

Lightning complete Black Aces roster

The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled forwards Yanni Gourde, Joel Vermin, Henri Ikonen and Tanner Richard, along with defensemen Dylan Blujus, Jake Dotchin, Luke Witkowski, Slater Koekkoek and Anthony DeAngelo, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. These prospects will join Kristers Gudlevskis, Mike Angelidis, and Jonathan Marchessault as call-ups from the Crunch after Syracuse was eliminated in three AHL playoff games.

The Black Aces are a practice squad of sorts which will gain valuable experience being around the Lightning during its playoff run. Notable omissions include Carter Ashton (pending RFA), Cody Kunyk (RFA) and JP Cote (UFA). Recently signed prospects Adam Wilcox and Matt Peca do not have active NHL contracts so they cannot be officially recalled.

DeAngelo jumps right to the Lightning practice unit after his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were eliminated Saturday night. According to Lightning Assistant GM Julien BriseBois - via Syracuse.com's Lindsay Kramer - DeAngelo's NHL contract is active this year so he is able to join the club.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-3-15 Lightning at Canadiens

When the levees broke...

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game Two

TB-6
MTL-2

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. As in Game One, he held the Lightning in the game early in the First Period long enough for them to gain their equilibrium and eventually trounce the Habs.

First Period
7:20 MTL Petry (1), (Mitchell, Prust)
19:36 TB Filppula (2), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)

Second Period
8:06 TB Stamkos (1), (Garrison, Coburn)
12:29 TB Kucherov (2), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
19:46 TB Hedman (1), (Killorn, Filppula)(PP)

Third Period
6:37 TB Kucherov (3), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
11:06 MTL Gilbert (2), (Emelin, Smith-Pelly)
16:05 TB Brown (1), (Filppula, Boyle)

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Killorn were the game's three stars.

That, folks, was one of the most satisfying playoff victories in Lightning history. The team, again, struggled to get any momentum to start the First Period with a combination of early penalties, poor passing, and faceoff impotence costing them possession. Again, though, they weathered that storm fairly well, only falling down 1-0, before Filppula's semi-soft power play goal toward the end of the frame. Montreal absolutely outplayed Tampa Bay in the First Period, and just like in Game One they absolutely blew their opportunity to land a knockout punch early. What happened thereafter was the stuff of stories and legends.

You see, the Lightning had already removed one item from their to-do list on Filppula's PP goal, but they proceeded to get everything knocked off from there. Stamkos scored on a very strong breakaway move on a nice long pass from Garrison to get that monkey off his back. Kucherov got a pair of PP goals to underline that the floodgates have indeed opened for him after Game One. His 2 goals, along with a Hedman PP tally, formed a chain of 4 goals on 4 consecutive PP shots for the Lightning as the absolutely embarrassed Carey Price, the NHL's presumptive MVP. To rub salt in the wound, the Lightning got the equivalent of a human victory cigar in the form of J.T. Brown scoring a tip in goal.

Teams that take a 2-0 lead on the road to start a series have an 80% chance of moving on, historically. I like those odds. I like the idea of avenging what happened last season even more. The Lightning have a chance to show the same cold blooded lack of mercy Montreal showed them last year in Game Three when the scene turned north after Tampa Bay fell behind 0-2 on the road. A quick goal by the Tampa Bay Lightning early in Game Three may lead to Montreal's resolve evaporating altogether. Time to step on their throats, Tampa Bay Lightning. Remember, the playoffs are a war of attrition. Advance as quickly as you can. Stay as healthy as you can. Conserve as much energy as you can. Let the other two teams kill each other in a long battle in the other Semifinal. Lay in wait for the Eastern Conference Finals. The opportunity for that scenario to play out is sitting there for the taking for the Lightning, starting with a strong opening 10 minutes at home in Game Three.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-2-15

Ontario Hockey League
Western Conference Finals

West-1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3 @ West-2 Erie Otters 7
Erie wins best-of-7 series, 4-2

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-1-1, -2, 4 PIM
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 0-16-16, +12, 18 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

Erie completed the upset of top-seeded Sault Ste. Marie, winning 7-3 Saturday night to take the Wayne Gretzky Trophy. The Otters, who were led by Connor McDavid’s goal and five points, will face the winner of Oshawa and North Bay in the Finals. OHL Rookie-of-the-Year Alex DeBrincat had a hat trick for Erie in the game. Lightning prospect Anthony DeAngelo’s remarkable season and junior career came to an end. He’s signed to an NHL contract and will turn pro next season. He took a bad roughing penalty in the second period after Erie’s Nick Betz tried to complete a play after a whistle, sliding the puck at the Soo’s goalie. DeAngelo went after Betz, but couldn’t get to him in the scrum. DeAngelo circled the pile after the scrum seemed to be over and shoved another player to the ice. The commentators gushed about DeAngelo most of the game, but mentioned the fine line he rides between playing with emotion and letting his emotions get the best of him. That will likely be Rob Zettler’s challenge next season for the Syracuse Crunch.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-1-15 Lightning at Canadiens

A game you could argue the Lightning won three times. Wish it counted as three wins.

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game One

TB-2
MTL-1 (2OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 44 shots for the victory. That 1 goal he allowed was a terrible, world class softie that would've been a huge blemish on an otherwise amazing performance had the Lightning lost this game in OT. Fortunately, they got the winner they needed to erase the bad taste of that goal away, and although soft goals are still inexcusable it's important to note than Ben Bishop absolutely was the Lightning's best player tonight.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
2:34 TB Johnson (7), (Carle, Sustr)
14:47 MTL Pacioretty (3), (Subban, Gilbert)

First Overtime
NO SCORING

Second Overtime
2:06 TB Kucherov (1), (Filppula)

Nikita Kucherov and Ben Bishop were the game's first and third stars. The Lightning finally got Kucherov on the board and hopefully they can get Stamkos and the PP, not necessarily in that order, out of the ditch and on the scoreboard in Game Two as well.

The Lightning played a nearly perfect road game and fought hard through a lot of adversity to put them in excellent position to start this series. As could be expected, they came out flat as a pancake after an emotional Game Seven victory on Wednesday and they had to ride some really sharp goaltending and the good graces of two strikes off of Ben's left post to survive Montreal's early surge. After about 10-12 minutes of hanging on for dear life, though, the Lightning settled down and started playing Lightning hockey. True, Montreal ended up taking the shot totals by about a 4:3 margin in the game, but the Lightning had the puck more, which is certainly more in line with the Lightning's style of play than what we saw in the Detroit series. Eventually, the Lightning manufactured what appeared to be the game winning goal on a Tyler Johnson deflection of a Carle point shot and the Lightning settled into Third Period lead protection mode. And, let me tell you, it's been shocking to see how good the Lightning have looked the last two games protecting a 1-0 lead in the Third Period. They've grown a lot in that department. That was the first time they won the game.

Then the Bishop softie happened. It's inexcusable. It's gut wrenching. It's the kind of thing that can destroy a team's morale. Credit to the Lightning though, in that they showed a lot of maturity by not hanging their heads as the game headed into Overtime. Then, in the First Overtime, Nikita Kucherov scored a breakaway goal that in any situation other than in OT in a playoff game against one of the NHL's darling franchises would've stood. Absolutely. No question in my mind. By the specter of dubious refereeing in Montreal reared its ugly head again as the goal was waved off under the guise that Kucherov pushed Price into the net. I could probably show you 100 goals exactly like that in the last decade that have stood up. That was the second time they won the game.

But, the refs decided they should play on. And play on they did when a Montreal turnover led to a quick pass to the slot for a quick release by Kucherov that beat Price for the winning goal. That was the third time they won the game, and the one that actually counted. In retrospect, I just wish the game counted as three wins for all the heavy lifting they had to do to get it.

Of course, there's a lot of controversy on the zone entry on the play that became the winner, with still shots being waved by the Canadian media showing Filppula as offside. The video, however, shows the play was less cut and dry, but still very close. It's really a case of Montreal trying to beat the wrap on a technicality, though, considering they got puck possession and had an easy opportunity to clear that they choked away. It's also karmatic justice considering how many times Tampa Bay has been shafted by the referees in games against Montreal over the past two seasons. No tears should be shed for the Habs, regardless of how much the northern hockey media tries to frame this as a tainted win.

Moving on to Game Two, the Lightning find themselves in the envious position of playing with house money on the road. They've accomplished what they need to stealing home ice to start the series. Now they've got a chance to really put the Habs behind the eight ball before heading home to Tampa Bay. It would behoove them to do so and shorten the series, because as we all know playoff hockey is both a marathon and a war of attrition. The fewer games you can play to get to 16 wins, the less energy you have to expend and the fewer opportunities you have to get players injured. So the message should be clear: seize the opportunity now and try to put Montreal away sooner rather than later.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-1-15

Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference Finals

East-2 Calgary Hitmen 2 @ East-1 Brandon Wheat Kings 8
Brandon wins best-of-7 series, 4-1

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 17 GP, 0-4-4, -5, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM

Brandon scored eight goals for the second straight game, sending the Hitmen to the golf course by winning the series, 4-1. The Wheat Kings will play the winner of Kelowna and Portland in the WHL finals. That series is currently tied at two games apiece. This ends the season of Ben Thomas, who still has another year of juniors to play before being up for contract consideration. He didn’t put up many numbers in the postseason after a solid regular season. He was getting solid minutes for Calgary in their run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-30-2015

Ontario Hockey League
Western Conference Finals

West-2 Erie Otters 2 @ West-1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 0-15-15, +14, 14 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

The Greyhounds forced a Game 6 with a close-fought, 4-2 win at home Thursday night. The Soo outshot Erie 28-13 through two periods, but the score was 1-1 entering the final frame. The teams traded goals before Bryan Moore scored at 12:55 to give the Soo a 3-2 lead. They added an empty net shorthanded goal with DeAngelo in the box for delay of game in the final minute. DeAngelo had his first assist in his last four games played. Game 6 is Saturday in Erie.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-29-15

Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference Finals

East-1 Brandon Wheat Kings 8 @ East-2 Calgary Hitmen 3
Brandon leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 0-4-4, -2, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM

After an overtime loss in Game 3, Brandon made a statement in Game 4, thrashing the Hitmen 8-3. The Wheat Kings can close out the series Friday night.

Crunch Swept By Penguins in First Round


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Down to the final buzzer, the Syracuse Crunch couldn't find a way out of their slump.

The Crunch tied the score late in the first period but the Penguins finished with three power play goals and goalie Matt Murray shut the door with 33 saves, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton beat Syracuse, 5-2, in Game 3 the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

The Crunch lost 12 of their final 13 games and was swept 3-0 in the series.

"I thought we had a great run up until the last three weeks of the season," said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. "I didn't see a lot of ups and downs. I saw a pretty consistent hockey team that won a lot of games and worked extremely hard and played really well."

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-29-15 Red Wings at Lightning

Bishop rises up.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game Seven

DET-0
TB-2

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-3

Ben Bishop stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout win in the clutchest of clutch moments. He was not on his game to start, fighting the puck hard for the first 25 minutes or so of the game. But, the longer it went on, the stronger Bishop got. By the end, Bishop looked sharp as a razor and ready to hand out his brand of U of Maine Justice in the postseason for the very first time. It's appropriate that on the night of Bobby Taylor's last broadcast at color of Sun Sports that his fellow Goalies Union, Local 813 member stole the show.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
3:58 TB Coburn (1), (Callahan, Killorn)
18:42 TB Stralman (1), (Bishop)(EN)

The Lightning pilfered this one. They were incredibly nervous and played about 45 minutes of scared, hot potato hockey. That said, they hustled, they worked hard, and they capitalized on the break when it came to them on Coburn's goal. It wasn't pretty. Cripes, even the anthem singer was playing hurt. But, in the end, figuring out how to pull out a series like this is so critically important for an extremely young team trying to make a transition to becoming an elite franchise. Now that they have that experience, it's going to get easier from here on out because they've lived through a tight series against a difficult, veteran opponent where they had to overcome a lot of adversity. It bodes well for the Montreal series and on into the future.

It also bodes well, in a weird way, that Stamkos and Kucherov still couldn't get a goal. For those two guys to go 7 games without a goal has to be the very definition of, "due." If I were the Canadiens, I'd be pretty terrified because if either of those guys get 1, especially Stamkos, the floodgates are liable to open. Both players had ten bell opportunities they just missed in Game Seven.

Going against hometown Montreal, might we also see Jonathan Drouin again starting Friday? It still seems that Stamkos needs a little more speed/skill on his wing, and Drouin has it. Just sayin'.

Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot in 10:02. For the little he played, he was very assertive and nearly won the game himself with a near end to end rush on one power play. He's forced his way into the lineup and forced Cooper and the staff to play 7 defensemen.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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