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Liiga Game Day: 2-17-15

Sport 0 vs. HPK 4
Saku Salminen, HPK, DNP
Season totals: 32 GP, 3-4-7, E, 4 PIM

Ex-Preds pick Juuse Saros turned aside all 35 shots he faced in HPK's 4-0 win over Sport. Ex-Sharks 7th rounder had 1 goal and 1 assist in the win.

NHL Game Night: 2-17-15 Lightning at Kings

Lightning PP undermines them again.

TB-2
LA-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He kept the game close and gave the Lightning a chance, particularly in the Second Period, but the team had no chance when he couldn't maintain contact by keeping out the third goal.

First Period
12:11 TB Nesterov (1), (Palat)

Second Period
7:04 LA Kopitar (12), (Lewis, McNabb)

Third Period
3:36 LA Nolan (4), (King, Shore)
13:59 LA Carter (16), (Doughty, King)
19:23 TB Johnson (21), (Kucherov, Hedman)

The Lightning power play, which has been around 12% for the past couple of months, is evidently < 3% on the backside of back-to-back games. < 3%? It's hard to imagine a professional power play that bad (sans, of course, Syracuse's). The power play is so bad right now, it actually generates momentum for the other team. It's inexcusably bad, in fact.

One night after stepping up and starting to take the bull by the horns, Steven Stamkos gets the puck taken off of him high in the offensive zone on the play that ended up transitioning into the Kings' lead goal. I don't mean to unfairly single anyone out, but he's got to be better.

Luke Witkowski was -2 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:25. One night after his best performance of his young NHL career, he got crumpled behind his net in the First Period and subsequently co-donned the goat horns by backing down too much in the face of the rush on the Kings' lead goal.

Nikita Nesterov had his first NHL goal and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits. It was a mixed bag of good and bad. Overall, you have to praise the assertiveness and whatever mistakes he made were mistakes of commission rather than tentative mistakes.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Prospect of the Week: 2-16-15

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for February 16, 2015 is … Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA – USA).

It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult.

Coming into the season, Lightning 2011 sixth rounder Adam Wilcox had a lot of expectations on his shoulders. He was a Hobey Baker nominee and Mike Richter Trophy finalist as the nation’s best goaltender, and would be the unquestioned No. 1 once again for the mighty Gophers. Wilcox’s future was so bright, talk started that he may choose not to sign with the Lightning and instead become a free agent in the summer of 2015 and shop his services elsewhere.

Juniors Game Night: 2-16-15

Ontario Hockey League

It was Family Day in Ontario, so the OHL had lots of afternoon games for people with the day off.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 6 @ Sarnia Sting 0

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 1-0-1, +3, 0 PIM
With SSM: 15 GP, 5-21-26, +14, 28 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 44 GP, 15-49-64, +15, 93 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

DeAngelo returned from an automatic one-game suspension for removing a helmet in a fight to score a goal against his former team and extend his point streak to 13 games. DeAngelo, who tied his career high for goals in a season, was honored before the game for his 3 ½ years with the Sarnia organization. His parents made the trip to the game for the ceremony. DeAngelo told the Sarnia broadcast during an intermission interview that (paraphrased) while his junior career is ending with the Soo, he’ll be remembered for his time with Sarnia, which is an honor.

Windsor Spitfires 4 @ Guelph Storm 5 (OT)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 49 GP, 16-18-34, -10, 91 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM

This one will hurt. Windsor outshot the Storm 50-36, but Guelph scored the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation then won in overtime. The Spits are two points out of a playoff spot in the West.

North Bay Battalion 2 @ Peterborough Petes 3

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 44 GP, 7-18-25, -12, 64 PIM
2013-14 totals (Czech U20): 39 GP, 2-19-21, +6, 102 PIM

Peterborough came back from a 2-0 hole to defeat the Battalion, 3-2. The Petes are now tied for the last playoff spot in the East. Masin continues to consistently hit the scoresheet in the second half. As was expected, he’s taken off in the latter half of his first North American season:

First 29 games: 5-8-13, -21
Last 15 games: 2-10-12, +9

NHL Game Night: 2-15-15 Lightning at Sharks

The biggest win of the season thus far.

TB-5
SJ-2

Ben Bishop sparkled, allowing just 2 goals on 35 shots for the victory. He chose a good night to uncork a bottle of '13-'14 Bishop: an excellent vintage, for sure.

First Period
19:44 TB Stamkos (30), (Stralman, Filppula)

Second Period
7:12 TB Killorn (12), (Callahan, Stamkos)
10:27 SJ Couture (21), (Nieto, Irwin)

Third Period
0:10 TB Palat (12), (unassisted)
11:38 SJ Burns (15), (Marleau, Thornton)(PP)
16:19 TB Paquette (12), (Filppula, Garrison)
17:40 TB Callahan (17), (unassisted)(EN)

Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars. Remember what I wrote after the Blues game debacle? The part about the Lightning needing Hedman and Stamkos to step up and be the team's best players? Remember how I also said that when Stamkos is on his game, he makes Ryan Callahan so much better? Case it point: tonight. It wasn't the complete game from either player, but it was a good game from both Hedman and Stamkos, with Stamkos playing an integral role in manufacturing the Lightning's initial 2-0 lead and setting the tone for success. Along with Bishop playing well, you saw the triumvirate that could take the Lightning deep in the playoffs. If those three play well, the Lightning are almost impossible to beat, because it takes pressure off the d-corps and allows the ThatDisputedName/Triplets/AnotherLoveTKO line (I'm not getting into the middle of that mess) to be in a position where they just need to chip in 1 goal instead of carrying the bulk of the scoring load for the Lightning to win.

Beyond those top two lines, you also got a key insurance goal from Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin looking incredibly dangerous all game long, including ringing a post that nearly put the Lightning up 3-0.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:52. To go through a game against the Sharks and play nearly 19 minutes and stay pretty unblemished is solid. It portends good things. Witkowski could be this Lightning team's Nolan Pratt. That's the type of guy you need if you want to win championships: a bottom pair guy who can go up and play second pair minutes when pressed into service and give you some grit, hustle, and steadiness.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 15:28. He got stone cold robbed of his first NHL goal by Niemi in the First Period.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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