Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Game Night: 4-2-17 Stars at Lightning

Lackluster Lightning still power through to set up big game in Boston.

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TB-6

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory. Strange game. Budaj got the benefit of two video replays and a quick whistle on a shot that knocked off his mask. Was he bad? No. Was he lucky? A little. It was just a bizarre contest.

First Period
11:27 TB Erne (2), (Gourde, Sustr)

Second Period
1:49 DAL Smith (3), (Lindell, Spezza)
10:57 DAL Spezza (14), (Klingberg, Lindell)
19:42 TB Coburn (4), (Stralman, Palat)

Third Period
5:43 TB Point (14), (Dotchin, Palat)
13:27 TB Palat (17), (Drouin, Kucherov)(PP)
14:37 TB Erne (3), (Namestnikov, Johnson)
16:40 DAL Ritchie (15), (Lindell, Shore)
19:58 TB Stralman (5), (unassisted)(EN)

Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, and Adam Erne were the game's three stars.

I'm not going to call that a work of art, because it wasn't. The Lightning looked particularly trashy in the Second Period when they seemed like they could neither give nor receive passes cleanly. They had a lot of luck with the video replays, too. But, in the end equation, it's about survival and manufacturing ways to stay in the race. That's what the Lightning did tonight. I don't care how. They just did it.

Tampa Bay moves to 88 points, 3 points back of Ottawa with the Senators holding a game in hand. Next up, a meeting in Boston on Tuesday night with the Spoked Satan. Win and they move within 2 points of Boston with a game in hand. Lose and the Lightning probably stay home for the postseason.

Luke Witkowski had 3 hits and 2 blocked shots in 7:02.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:52.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 hit in 8:59 and was 20% on 10 draws.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 15:06. He was also 54% on 13 draws.

Erne had a pair of goals and was +2 with 5 shots and 2 hits in 13:36. Surprise, Dan Hamhuis! Big Erne has afterburners.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 4-1-17 Canadiens at Lightning

Big Goal Gourde helps Lightning salvage a life-sustaining point.

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TB-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. He was brilliant, really. Justified the faith of the franchise by acquitting himself well in a goaltending duel with Price that he nearly won.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
14:24 MTL Danault (3), (Pacioretty)

Third Period
11:38 TB Gourde (4), (Hedman, Drouin)

Overtime
0:51 MTL Radulov (17), (Pacioretty, Danault)

Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.

This was a tough game for the Lightning. They looked gassed throughout a healthy portion of this one and it took a lot of character to dig deep in the Third Period and at least salvage the point. It's a shame that Kucherov couldn't quite finish his glorious OT chance, but the Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of and they've got 2 more critical points to chase tomorrow night when Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson possibly return to the lineup.

It's pretty simple math now. At the start of the season, we always talk about pursuing that magic 96 points to make the playoffs safely. Well, the Lightning must now win out to hit 96 points on the nose. They might have 1 more point worth of margin for error, but they likely can't afford a regulation loss the rest of the way. Right now Ottawa is looking like the most realistic target for the Lightning to run down and get into the dance, with Boston and Toronto refusing to fade. The Lightning are 5 points back of Ottawa with both teams having 5 more games left to play. They're also 4 points back of Boston with a game in hand and a head-to-head still on the docket, but the ROW tiebreaker heavily favors the Bruins.

Luke Witkowski had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 12:14.

Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes in 8:46.

Jake Dotchin had 2 shots and 4 hits in 17:50.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits in 9:19.

Yanni Gourde had the big goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:20. He was also 40% on 10 draws.

Adam Erne had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:44.

Joel Vermin was +1 with 1 shot in 10:32.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-30-17 Red Wings at Lightning

Even with Kucherov out ill, the Lightning keep their playoff hopes healthy.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory.

First Period
4:22 DET Nielsen (15), (Helm)
18:58 TB Brown (3), (Dumont)

Second Period
2:22 TB Sustr (3), (Palat)
12:46 DET DeKeyser (4) (Tatar, Zetterberg)
16:13 TB Killorn (18), (unassisted)(PP)
18:04 TB Drouin (21), (Hedman, Point)(PP)

Third Period
6:03 TB Gourde (3), (Palat, Sustr)
8:18 DET Green (13), (Nielsen, Larkin)(PP)

Andrej Sustr, Alex Killorn, and J.T. Brown were the game's three stars. If you picked those three as the opening three goal scorers tonight, I salute you on hitting the million to one trifecta.

With Nikita Kucherov out of the lineup sick, the Lightning cobbled an important victory out of duct tape, bailing wire, spit, and guile.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:28.

Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:22.

Gabriel Dumont had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 73% on 11 draws.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 22:44. He was also 25% on 8 draws. Yanni Gourde with 22:44 of ice time in a must-win game down the stretch of the regular season. We live in interesting times.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 10:12.

Joel Vermin had 1 shot in 9:16.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-27-17 Blackhawks at Lightning

Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.

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TB-5 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 goals for the win. He was actually pulled toward the end of the opening frame for Petr Budaj, who stopped the 3 shots he faced, but Cooper re-inserted Vasilevskiy and eventually got the payoff in the form of two key breakaway saves including the save of the game denying Kane on a breakaway move that he scores on 99 out of 100 goaltenders on the planet. Not Vasilarceniy tonight, however.

First Period
1:23 CHI Panarin (25), (Kero)
9:29 TB Palat (16), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 CHI Kane (34), (Hjalmarsson, Keith)
13:41 CHI Jurco (1), (Schmaltz)

Second Period
8:47 CHI Panik (21), (VanRiemsdyk, Schmaltz)
11:45 TB Drouin (19), (Killorn, Stralman)
12:47 TB Stralman (4), (McKegg, Palat)
16:24 TB Drouin (20), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)

Yanni Gourde, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

My God. What did we just witness? Every once in a while something happens in sports that you think can't happen, but by shear force of will a player or a team makes it happen. When Richard Panik put the Lightning down 4-1 around the middle of the Second Period of this game, the Lightning season looked completely dead and over. It's not just that the Lightning had fallen behind an opponent by three goals with about half the game to make up the deficit, but it was against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was against a defensive corps we all watched strangle this Lightning team to death in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of years ago. There should have been no way they would surrender a 3 goal lead, and especially so to a Tampa Bay club that looked sloppy and disorganized for most of the first 30 minutes and couldn't get out of its own way.

I give a lot of credit to Jon Cooper and, more importantly, to the character of this team. They could've flat given up right there and I might not have blamed them. Instead, the team resolved to turn the remaining ~35 minutes of hockey in this game into a breathtaking demonstration of the brand of Lightning hockey we've rarely seen this season but know these players are capable. Speed? Yes. Skill? Yes. But, more importantly, a suffocating dedication to puck pursuit and denying the opposition time, space, and passing lanes. The Lightning started to crawl all over the Blackhawks like a troop of extremely pissed off fire ants in all three zones and eventually made the breaks they needed to get 2 points that looked impossible just an hour and a half or so ago. That forecheck tonight, in particular... my goodness. When they forecheck like that there's not a team on earth that can stand up to the pressure.

The Lightning move to just 1 point behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot, and they've got another game against Jack Edwards and The Spoked Satan left on the schedule. The dream of a Lightning playoff berth refuses to die.

Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. He had a hit on Hossa tonight that you rarely see do that much damage against a guy as sturdy on his skates as Hossa is.

Gregg McKegg had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:20. A comeback like this rarely comes without some secondary scoring help from the lower lines, and McKegg supplied the key play around the net that led to Stralman's goal.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 20:40.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:41.

Gourde, the man of the hour, had the OT GWG shooting forehand on a breakaway. He also had 1 shot in his 16:30 of ice time and was 27% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 2 hits in 11:15. Even without gaudy stat lines, I can't underscore enough how important the minutes and work Dumont, Erne, and Vermin put in tonight. They were active, tenacious, and they didn't let up on Chicago as the Lightning comeback continued to sweep over Chicago. You would think a team like Chicago's depth would be able to take advantage of some of these Lightning callups, and it was the other way around tonight. Guys like Erne were looking to take their lunch money.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

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DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

Overtime
3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.

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BOS-3

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)

Third Period
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.

Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-22-17 Coyotes at Lightning

The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)

Second Period
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)

Third Period
4:45 ARI Ekman-Larsson (12), (Domi, Duclair)
6:39 ARI Vrbata (18), (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson)
18:24 ARI Murphy (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Full disclosure: the power went off at my house about 15 minutes through the Second Period and didn't come back until late last night. So, the lights went out at my house shortly before they probably went out on the Lightning. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't have to witness that Third Period slide into the abyss. In a way, it's fitting. I declared the Lightning season more or less dead when the team got blown out in Arizona with one of the more feckless efforts of the season. At that point, the math simply didn't work out for a happy ending for the Lightning, and while they did an amazing job to play themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot the fact is there's been far too many nights like this one where the team didn't mind its details against opponents of all stripes and got lit up on the scoreboard. And, it's because of that the team is (probably) heading for early tee times this offseason and a lot of reflection on what might have been.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:53.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:17.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:32. He was also 80% on 10 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. He too was 80% on 10 draws.

Adam Erne had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:50.

Joel Vermin had 2 shots in 11:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-18-17 Capitals at Lightning

Lightning run into a juggernaut, see playoff hopes harmed.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
3:44 WSH Oshie (27), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
11:52 WSH Oshie (28), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
15:52 TB Kucherov (32), (Palat, Point)(PP)
16:08 TB Killorn (17), (Drouin)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
3:14 WSH Williams (20), (Niskanen, Burakovsky)
5:30 WSH Carlson (8), (Oshie, Backstrom)
18:30 TB Kucherov (33), (Point)
19:16 WSH Oshie (29), (Backstrom)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Valiant effort by the Lightning still playing with darn near all their centers out of the lineup and really testing the East's best team. Were it not for a bit of embellishment that led to the call in the Third Period that led to Williams' goal shortly after its conclusion, Tampa Bay might've well gotten points out of the evening.

Unfortunately, with the standings predicament the Lightning are in, there are no moral victories. They're running out of road quickly.

Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 7:19

Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes and was 60% on 10 draws in 8:44. McKegg is now a couple of games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 3 hits in 19:40.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:58.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 33% on 15 draws in 15:17.

Adam Erne had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:19.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-16-17 Maple Leafs at Lightning

It didn't happen...

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Rather than write a full game report, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a while tonight. It's probably been a couple of years, but I'm going to skip the detailed post mortem of what happened tonight to offer you a different perspective.

It didn't happen.

The fact of the matter is the Lightning were completing a marathon leg of 4 games in 6 nights, and while the effort level was good, they just couldn't get a single bounce to go their way all game long. It's not overly surprising under the circumstances, and it happens. Do we all wish it hadn't happened under this particular circumstance in the standings and against this particular club? Sure. But what's done can't be undone, and there's too much heavy lifting left to do for the club to really dwell on a seemingly impossible night at the office. Better to bury it now and just move on like it didn't happen when the sun rises tomorrow morning, especially for young netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy who still has a lot more big moments to face down before now and the finish line of the regular season.

NHL Game Night: 3-14-17 Lightning at Senators

The stuff that dreams are made of.

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OTT-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. It's overshadowed by the heroics at the other end by Condon, but what Vasilevskiy did again tonight was make every situational save asked of him to get the Lightning their chance at the winner's circle.

First Period
3:05 TB Point (12), (Dotchin, Coburn)

Second Period
2:35 OTT Wingels (7), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:05 TB Hedman (14), (Palat)

Victor Hedman was the game's second star.

Facing near impossible odds in their quest for a playoff spot, the Lightning look like a locked in team that is already playing postseason hockey. Tonight's challenges: 1.) Get road points in a back to back after a tough game against the Rangers last night, 2.) Again play short of centermen with Vlad Namestnikov back on the shelf, 3.) Solve a netminder in Mike Condon who decided to lose his mind tonight with ten bell save after ten bell save. Amazingly, the team never showed the effects of #1 or #2 and eventually they got the one they needed to solve #3. Now, after all the heavy lifting is done, they find themselves tied for the 8th spot in the East after being left for dead a month ago. The dream lives for the Lightning, with a lot of heavy lifting still left to do.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 7:51.

Greg McKegg had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04. He was also 45% on 11 draws.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 19:13.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 11:22.

Yanni Gourde had 4 shots in 20:20. He's playing so well on this recall and he hasn't shown signs of hitting a wall yet.

Adam Erne had 3 shots and 7 hits in 8:30.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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