Tampa Bay Lightning
Not even Carey Price could deny the Lightning tonight.
Ben Bishop stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout, and handed down some U of Maine Justice in the process. He didn't face many quality chances, but his rebound stop off the rush in the Second Period was the most important stop of the contest, bar none.
1:03 TB Johnson (25), (Garrison, Coburn)
Just a masterful individual effort by Johnson swooping around the net and feeding a puck through a defender's legs on the way to set up his own winning goal in OT. Kucherov made 1-2 moves like that too, tonight. All-in-all, the Lightning just took their game to another level tonight, out-attempting the Canadiens by about a 2-to-1 margin. Carey Price's superhuman effort was the only thing that kept Montreal from getting blown out, and in the end, even that wasn't enough. There's one more game between these two teams on the schedule and just one point separating them atop the division, and the Habs have to be looking over their shoulder after getting dominated in all three head-to-heads so far this season.
The Lightning sit at 90 points through 68 games played, so they've already hit 12 points for this 10 game segment and they're sitting on at least 6 insurance points for a playoff pace with 2 games to hit 70 games played. The Lightning have hit 12 points in every 10 game segment so far this season except one, when they just missed with 11 points. At this pace, they'll more or less clinch a safe number of points for a playoff berth some time around game 72 or 73 of the season, meaning the focus shifts toward the possibility of hanging banner(s) and positioning themselves advantageously for the playoffs.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 shots and 3 hits in 14:12 tonight. He was really strong tonight, and could've had a couple of goals easily with a little luck. He's really played well since his recall, and is giving off every indication he's got the potential to be a real force in the Lightning lineup next season when he gets up to the NHL full time.
Lightning win a shootout against some Texans.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the victory. The stat line isn't pretty, but he made several key saves in the Third Period to preserve the victory for the Lightning. Were it not for Fiddler's goal with under 3 seconds left, which might've been kicked in, it'd look a lot better.
12:59 TB Stralman (6), (Palat)(PP)
14:24 DAL Seguin (30), (Spezza, Ja. Benn)(PP)
15:52 TB Kucherov (25), (Palat, Coburn)
3:52 DAL Seguin (31), (Klingberg)
11:03 DAL Fiddler (9), (Goligoski, Sceviour)
3:40 TB Killorn (14), (Callahan, Hedman)
5:31 TB Hedman (9), (Johnson, Palat)
19:36 TB Boyle (14), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:57 DAL Fiddler (10), (Jo. Benn, Sceviour)
That was hardly artful, but effective in the end. The Stars defense ultimately just wasn't going to be able to stop the Lightning unless Enroth stood on his head. He didn't and therefore they didn't. Just that simple, really.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 hits in 12:50. He was very effective in limited ice time, helping to set up a handful of prime chances. He's gone to dirty areas and he showed good vision and decision-making off the rush.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.
4:25 TB Kucherov (24), (Palat, Johnson)
15:17 TB Callahan (21), (Stamkos)
6:48 TOR Booth (2), (Holland)
6:31 TB Namestnikov (4), (Sustr, Hedman)
15:14 TB Killorn (13), (Stamkos, Garrison)(PP)
17:42 TOR Panik (10), (Phaneuf, Kadri)
That's a beautiful thing. The Lightning went out and built a 2 goal lead over 40 minutes of hockey while holding their opponent to just 14 shots, and proceeded to get the back breaker on the power play in the Third Period to get that all-important three goal lead. That last part is critical, and although it may be a mirage, it's nice to see the Lightning starting to get those put-away markers on the PP of late.
Now you put a little heat back on Montreal and see if some things can shake loose in the division crown race.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:53.
Namestnikov had a goal on a beautiful setup from Sustr and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 10:00. Made the most of his minutes, for sure.
Let there be kittens!
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 28 shots he faced for his first career NHL shutout. He got the emergency start for the Lightning after Bishop got injured earlier in the day and he made a huge difference by standing on his head while the Lightning sleepwalked through the first 5-10 minutes of the game.
16:37 TB Stamkos (36), (Killorn, Sustr)
2:48 TB Callahan (20), (Johnson, Filppula)(PP)
4:24 TB Hedman (8), (Stralman, Palat)(PP)
Vasilevskiy, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden "Rooster" Coburn were the game's three stars.
It's hard to read too much into the night's festivities given the defensive pairs were shuffled with the addition of Coburn and, more importantly, because Buffalo is sporting a lineup right now that's probably just barely an even match for the Syracuse Crunch.
Still, it's a big 2 points to close within 3 of Montreal. That Panthers loss still stings, though.
No prospect skaters in the lineup tonight. Really.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Radko Gudas, along with the Lightning’s 2015 first round and third round picks, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. If Tampa Bay fails to make the playoffs in 2015 and ends up with the first overall selection, Philadelphia will receive the New York Rangers’ 2015 first round pick (previously acquired) in the draft in lieu of Tampa Bay’s own first round selection. Additionally, the Lightning have acquired the Boston Bruins’ 2015 and 2016 second round draft picks in exchange for forward Brett Connolly.
Coburn, 30, has skated in 39 games this season with the Flyers, recording one goal and nine points to go along with 16 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman ranks third among Flyer defensemen for average time on ice (20:14). Coburn leads Philadelphia for average shifts per game (27.9) this season.
The Shaunavon, Saskatchewan native has appeared in 614 career NHL games with the Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers, posting 37 goals and 166 points to go along with 504 penalty minutes. He set career highs for goals (nine), assists (27) and points (36) during the 2007-08 season while with the Flyers. Coburn has also skated in 72 career postseason games, all with the Flyers, collecting two goals and 23 points.
Coburn has represented Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships on two different occasions, capturing the Silver Medal in 2009. He also represented Team Canada at the World Jr. Championships twice, winning a Gold Medal in 2005 and a Silver Medal in 2004.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss. Lots of greasy goals for the Panthers in today's game.
10:24 FLA Jagr (12), (Huberdeau, Campbell)
12:08 TB Stralman (5), (Drouin, Boyle)
5:31 FLA Barkov (10), (Jagr, Huberdeau)
17:00 FLA Boyes (11), (unassisted)
4:18 FLA Ekblad (10), (Bjugstad, Huberdeau)(PP)
8:31 TB Stamkos (35), (Killorn, Garrison)
17:16 TB Johnson (24), (Kucherov, Stralman)
Lack of effort, plain and simple. After the masterpiece the Lightning put in against the Blackhawks, they were sloppy moving the puck out of their own zone and couldn't generate anything because of it. And, they didn't seem very worried about it while the Panthers incrementally built their lead up until they got their kill shot goal in the Third Period on the PP. The Lightning finally woke up with about 15 minutes left to go, but it's too late at that point. When you fall behind by 3 in the Third Period in pro hockey, it's over.
If the point of today's game was to try to inspire Steve Yzerman to push all in on a Cup run: mission failed. The wild inconsistency of this team, coupled with it's complete lack of a power play, simply does not inspire confidence that it's ready to make a deep run in the playoffs. You simply don't know what you're going to get from the team on a night-to-night basis, tracing back to the fact you simply don't know what you're going to get on a night-to-night basis from the guys who are supposed to be the team's best players: Stamkos and Hedman. How many nights have these guys taken a (way) back seat to the Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line and the likes of Anton Stralman? That's how you go from dominating the Blackhawks one game and absolutely wetting the bed against a bummy team like Florida the next. I wouldn't be gung ho to bet a 1st or 2nd round pick to put pieces around that shakiness, either.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 5 blocked shots in 14:29. Busy young man.
As close to perfect as it gets...
Ben Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced for the shutout and the win. He didn't face many quality chances, but he was solid as a rock when he did, including turning aside a breakaway bid by Saad. In a battle of two ex-Black Bears, it was Bishop who got him some #UofMaineJustice.
8:27 TB Boyle (13), (Drouin)
17:53 TB Stamkos (33), (Garrison, Nesterov)
7:37 TB Callahan (19), (Filppula, Johnson)(PP)
17:15 TB Stamkos (34), (Garrison, Hedman)(PP)
That's probably the most complete game the Lightning have played all season. True, the Hawks played last night and the Lightning have just been relaxing at the crib since returning from their West Coast trip, but that was just a good old fashioned butt whipping. When you have that long of a layoff, maybe you worry about rust and your timing and passing being off, but that wasn't the case tonight. I thought the breakout was as crisp and efficient as it has been all season, and when the Lightning get out of their own end that cleanly and quickly and get to use their skating ability, they're more than a handful for the opposition. They built the 2 goal lead headed into the Third Period and then, my goodness, they finally figured out how to put a game away on the power play. Yes. That's how it's done.
Don't be coy, Rick Peckham. You know where the Dump Truck nickname came from.
Nikita Nesterov had a helper and was +2 in 14:21. It was a good recovery game after the debacle against the Avs. He got back to being smart with the puck and he was assertive when the times came to jump up and hold pucks in the offensive zone.
Defense falls apart at the end of the road.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 18 shots. The stat line looks terrible but there was really only one goal I felt was one that he'd definitely want back. With that said, part of being an elite goaltender is keeping your team in contact and at least giving them a chance by making 1-2 key stops. He didn't do that tonight by allowing the team to fall behind by 3 in the Third Period, which is almost always a death sentence.
10:53 TB Palat (15), (Johnson)
16:21 COL MacKinnon (10), (Landeskog)
3:10 COL MacKinnon (11), (O'Reilly, Barrie)
3:39 COL Duchene (16), (unassisted)
5:51 TB Johnson (23), (Kucherov, Killorn)
12:50 COL MacKinnon (12), (O'Reilly)
7:20 COL Tanguay (16), (Everberg)
11:43 TB Connolly (12), (Filppula, Paquette)
18:58 TB Kucherov (23), (Johnson, Hedman)
In the universe I come from, if you score 4 goals and hold your opponent to 18 shots, you should win. The only time that doesn't happen is when you have self-inflicted wounds like really terrible turnovers against a skilled team. And, that's what happened tonight. This youthful defense the Lightning have patched together with Carle and Gudas out has been such a mixed bag. They'll play 2-3 decent games and then absolutely wet the bed like they did tonight. Nesterov, Barberio, and Hedman each had plays I think they'd want back, and it really burned the Lightning hard tonight.
Hedman's inclusion on the goat horn list is particularly vexing given what I've said about best players needing to be best players. So is Steven Stamkos checking in at -3 and 31% on draws. Were both guys so awful they should be traded? No, but as I've said those two guys really need to start being the Lightning's top players night in and night out. Stamkos is the engine that makes Callahan go, and the young defense just seems to go as Hedman goes. God bless the Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line, but I don't want them to have to carry the team in the playoffs and I don't want a guy like Stralman or Garrison to have to play over their head. Stamkos and Hedman are trophy-winning caliber talents who need to start playing like it. I'm not saying it to be mean or to run the guys out of town, it's just the expectations have to rise now.
It's too bad. Winning 4 of 5 on this road trip would've been a wildly successful outcome. 3 out of 5 is minimally acceptable, but leaving 2 winnable points on the ice like the team did tonight will ultimately cost them an Atlantic Division banner at the end of the year, barring them finding their next gear.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:29. He and Garrison got split on MacKinnon's first goal and he made the absolutely horrible turnover of Duchene's goal. That turnover gets you demoted on a lot of teams. As it is, it might get him a seat in the pressbox, at least.
Taking care of business in the desert.
14:02 ARI Stone (3), (Erat, Korpikoski)
6:45 TB Palat (13), (Callahan, Stralman)(PP)
14:31 TB Callahan (18), (Barberio, Stralman)
3:27 TB Palat (14), (Hedman)
11:42 ARI Arcobello (11), (unassisted)
19:55 TB Stamkos (32), (Filppula, Garrison)(PP)(EN)
The Lightning just asserted their will on the Coyotes in the Second Period and early Third Period to build a 3-1 lead and eventually take away the victory. It puts them in a position to cap off a very successful road trip that many other teams in the Eastern Conference were desperately hoping would critically wound Tampa Bay.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:19.
Everytime the Lightning carry a 3 goal lead into the Second Intermission an angel gets its wings.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of work after the First Period, but he made a handful of key saves over the course of the game to eventually allow the Lightning to stick this one in cruise control.
4:17 ANA Maroon (7), (Rakell, Palmieri)
4:31 TB Stralman (4), (Boyle, Drouin)
5:55 TB Johnson (22), (Palat, Garrison)
18:05 TB Kucherov (22), (Stralman, Palat)
19:39 TB Stamkos (31), (Killorn, Sustr)
Both teams in this contest played a very loose First Period defensively and could've had a handful of goals. Anaheim had a chance to really grab the game by the throat with a two goal lead early when they got a 2-on-0 breakaway, but their failure to convert turned the game into a race to see who could make the adjustments first, defensively. The Lightning, emphatically, took the game by the throat in the middle frame outshooting the Ducks 20-5 and building the three goal lead that allowed them to glide through the last 20 minutes. I find the stress-free lifestyle that affords Lightning fans to be a very good thing.
Steven Stamkos had 6-7 scoring chances in this game and Victor Hedman, although silent offensively, ended up blocking 9 (9!) shots on defense after looking a little iffy on Anaheim's only marker. I'll say it again, when the Lightning's two best non-goalie players play like their best players, everything tends to flow from there.
At the 60 game mark, the Lightning have ended another successful 10-game segment with 78 points, meaning they have 6 insurance points headed into the 7th 10-game segment of the year. 12 in 10 do it again, as we officially move into the stretch run of the season and the final quarter of the regular year. On paper, they should be able to get off to a solid start to the segment as the final two games of the road trip are against opponents in Phoenix and Colorado that don't have the same level of quality as the first three opponents. But, you know, games are played on ice not on paper.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot and 3 hits in 16:57. He got caught flat footed on one breakaway allowed to the Ducks, but was otherwise efficient.