Tampa Bay Lightning
Playoff-bound Lightning make a statement.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 26 shots for the victory. He held the team in down 1-0 and gave them time to build up momentum at the end of the Second Period and eventually run the Habs out of the building. That's what good goaltenders do.
10:18 MTL Gallagher (19), (Galchenyuk, Weaver)
9:19 TB Callahan (17), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)
12:41 TB Johnson (23), (unassisted)
19:15 TB Killorn (17), (Palat, Brown)(PP)(EN)
Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars. My star goes to J.T. Brown, who got called for a baloney incidental contact infraction on a Purcell goal that should have counted at the end of the Second Period where he set a near perfect screen on Carey Price, and the set up several chances for his linemates early in the Third Period. So pleased he got the second assist on the empty netter to cap the win.
For the first time in a while, I can say, "That was Lightning hockey". After sleepwalking their way to the finish line for the past several weeks, the Lightning realized the magnitude of tonight's game and they brought it for 60 minutes against the team they are battling for home ice in the first round who will likely be their opponent in the first round. Bishop was strong. They minded their details. They played hard and generated a ton of chances. The scoreboard doesn't tell the full tale. Without Price standing on his head Montreal loses this game 4-1 or 5-1. Heck, without that terrible call on Brown to end the Second Period the Lightning would've gotten to Price at least one more time.
The victory, coupled with losses by New Jersey and Washington, clinches the Lightning's playoff spot with 93 points through 76 games. I thought 96 gets you in the playoffs comfortably. The Lightning's expedited trip to get 93 points gets it all done even earlier.
Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 14:00. The end of the game had one dark cloud, and that was Doug Murray's nasty elbow to Kostka's head at the Habs blueline on a power play entry that temporarily knocked Kostka out and led to the stretcher being brought out on the ice. Fortunately, Kostka eventually got up and left on his own power, but it was a scary scene. Murray got a match penalty for targeting the head and will be serving a suspension for what he did. Hopefully Kostka doesn't miss much time, if any, because of the play.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Adam Erne to an entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. He will report to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout contract.
Erne, 18, played in 48 games with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season, recording 21 goals and 62 points along with 65 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Remparts for points and was fourth for goals. Erne played in one playoff game with Quebec during the QMJHL playoffs and recorded one goal.
The 6-foot-1, 206-pound forward appeared in 180 games over three seasons with Quebec, amassing 57 goals and 189 points to go along with 164 penalty minutes. He also skated in five games for the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden, posting one assist.
Erne was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft
Things are different in the adult pool...
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He gave his team a chance staving off multiple breakaways to keep the game somewhat close, but once the team fell back 2 it looked like curtains, and it was.
8:40 TB Filppula (25), (unassisted)
11:08 DET Andersson (8), (Helm, Alfredsson)
15:24 DET Nyquist (27), (Legwand)
16:36 DET Legwand (13), (Franzen, Kronwall)(PP)
15:31 TB Salo (4), (Kucherov)
The Lightning's points streak gets snapped at 11 games. Good news/bad news. The good news is the team recognized they were playing a playoff caliber team and actually decided to skate hard. That's a welcome sign. The bad news is, you can't turn crisp hockey on and off like a light switch, and while the legs looked like they were there the brains were not. Detroit capitalized for the 2-1 First Period lead and outshot the Lightning 12-6 in the frame and never looked back. Hopefully the loss has some utility in waking the team up and preparing them for the upcoming monster matchup against Montreal.
Mike Kostka had 3 shots in 12:23.
When wins don't feel like wins...
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the OT win. Wait, what? 2 goals? Yes, because in a freak play Steven Stamkos scored into his own net with Bishop pulled on a delayed penalty. It was that kind of night.
12:20 BUF D'Agostini (5), (Ristolainen, Larsson)
14:07 BUF Hodgson (17), (Ehrhoff)
17:52 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov, Carle)
19:46 TB Stamkos (22), (Brown, Gudas)
8:14 BUF Conacher (7), (unassisted)(EN)
10:07 TB Callahan (16), (Purcell, Stamkos)(PP)
1:53 TB Stamkos (23), (Filppula, Purcell)(PP)
Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars. For my money, J.T. Brown deserved consideration as well, seeing as he was one of the few Lightning players who didn't snooze through about 55 minutes of play tonight.
The Lightning now have 91 points, meaning they're probably just 4-5 points away from what they need to make the postseason. The way things are looking they'll probably get Montreal with the only real question being which of the two clubs gets home ice. That's a wonderful story, given everything that's happened over the last year, and I don't want to diminish it. And, with the win tonight the Lightning have gotten points in each of their last 11 games at a time of the year when points don't come easy in order to put themselves in this position. I don't want to diminish that either. Manufacturing points isn't an easy thing.
However, at some point you keep waiting for the Lightning to show they have an extra gear up from simply manufacturing points to actually proving they're one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and that's not how the team has looked lately. Tonight was painful to watch, just like the Islanders game was. Worse, in fact, because I think the Lightning's effort level was even lower tonight than it was against the Isles. Playing against two of the most talent-bereft squads in the NHL the Lightning didn't show up and just barely scratched out 2 wins. Yeah, that'll get you in the playoffs, but let's be honest: play like that in the playoffs and Montreal will embarrass you. Flat out. Embarrass. You. This team does not, in any way shape or form, look ready for the crucible that is postseason hockey. They, at times, look like a team happy just to be near making the playoff treating the experience like a coronation. At other times, they look like a team that peaked way too soon and are now running on fumes near the finish line (Bishop falling mostly into this latter category).
Something's got to change, and I hope with home ice still on the line it doesn't take this team taking a tragic, soul-shattering butt whipping at some point in the next few games for them to realize something's got to change in the effort department.
Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 shot in 15:44.
Even if it takes all night.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 27 shots before stopping 9 shooters in a 13 round epic for the Shootout victory. By the end, he and Nabokov were looking like Rocky and Apollo Creed. "No rematch!" cried Nabokov. "Don't want one!" replied Bishop.
0:29 TB Callahan (14), (Gudas, Filppula)
1:33 NYI Strome (5), (Martin, Donovan)
9:17 NYI Donovan (2), (Nielsen, Lee)
5:50 TB Callahan (15), (Brewer)
NYI- Nielsen, Nelson, McDonald, Cizikas
TB- Kostka, Palat, Stamkos, Carle, Salo
2 points the team needed. 2 points they got the hard way. Credit to the Islanders. They're young and undertalented, but they played with energy and structure and came within an eyelash of putting the Lightning in a world of hurt in that Second Period. In the end, the Lightning carried the balance of the play in the First and Third Periods, as well as Overtime. They were the team more deserving of the second point, and they got it, primarily on the strength of some excellent work by their defensive corps. Seriously. Kostka, Carle, and Salo looked like cold-blooded assassins in their attempts. Just, wow.
Points in 10 straight now put the Lightning at 89 points for the campaign. That's 7 shy of the season goal with 9 left to play. With a 9 point lead on the last team out as of this posting, it won't be long now.
Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:59. He absolutely deked Nabokov out of his jock in the shootout and the quick release to roof the backhander off the crossbar and in was just outstanding. The trigger has no heart, and neither did Kostka for old man Nabokov. Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you.