Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Game Night: 12-31-18 Lightning at Ducks

Lightning outlast clutch-n-grab Ducks to complete 2018.

TB-2
ANA-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 36 shots to win a pretty pitched goaltending duel with Gibson at the other end.

First Period
6:06 TB Kucherov (19), (Cernak, Point)
17:08 ANA Ritchie (5), (Kase, Mahura)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
0:35 TB Point (23), (Kucherov, Hedman)

Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and third stars.

That win wasn't a Picasso, but after a couple of ridiculous wide open games, there were some things to build on in tonight's win. The opening frame was a troubling thing to watch, with the Lightning's passing a shambolic mess. But, from the midway point of the game on, I thought the Lightning's speed advantage started to turn the run of play in Tampa Bay's favor as they started winning the 50/50 puck battles and they started generating more and better scoring chances than the Ducks. By the time OT rolled around, it was advantage Lightning because their speed and skill superiority was on full display in the 3-on-3. It's not just that Tampa Bay ran the Ducks off the ice in 35 seconds in OT... it's that the Ducks never once possessed the puck in OT. Not once. Tampa Bay won the faceoff. Controlled it. Took Anaheim for a skate. Opened them up, and then surgically completed the deal with a laser stretch pass that gave Point the half step he needed for the partial breakaway goal. Clinical. Cold blooded.

May I just also say how farcical Western Conference hockey is? It feels like every time the Lightning jump in a plane west they might as well be hopping into a time machine back to the early 90's with the amount of obstruction that goes uncalled out there. It's like the two conferences are playing in different leagues by different rule books, like the MLB. Heck, why not just reinstate the red line over there in the Western Conference? Might as well. The AL has the DH in baseball. The Western Conference showcases the finest in skill-deficient lumberjack hockey. What's even funnier is that they think it's some kind of virtue to play that style. I shake my head.

The Lightning complete the fourth 10-game segment of the campaign with 64 points, putting them a full 16 points ahead of the minimum pace they'd need to make the postseason. Put another way: The Lightning probably need just 32 of a possible 84 points the rest of the way to make the playoffs (.381 hockey). The hellacious pace this team has put together in the first half have left them in an enviable position where they can spend the second half perfecting their craft, keeping veteran players fresh, and possibly even working in some additional reinforcements from Syracuse if they decide to do some diagnostic cups of coffee on some youngsters. They've got that house money to play with from hereon out.

Mathieu Joseph was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:06. In the Third Period, it felt like his game started to turn the corner after a rough first 5 periods of hockey since returning from injury.

Anthony Cirelli had a blocked shot in 17:13 and he was 53% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 12:40. I would've hoped he could string two nice impactful games back-to-back after starring down the stretch of the Montreal win, but he wasn't quite threatening in this contest.

Erik Cernak had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:51. Yet another strong performance for Cernak.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-29-18 Canadiens at Lightning

Erne's heroics save Lightning from another defensive holiday hangover.

MTL-5
TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 38 shots for the victory. This may be exciting hockey, but the coverage busts against the rush and off faceoffs aren't sustainable, and the team can't keep on counting on winning these 1980's-style high scoring games. Refocusing is needed across the board.

First Period
9:44 MTL Shaw (10), (Tatar, Kotkaniemi)(PP)
10:00 MTL Agostino (2), (Benn, Danault)
14:12 TB Gourde (11), (Erne, McDonagh)
17:07 TB Stralman (2), (unassisted)
17:35 MTL Benn (2), (Danault, Gallagher)

Second Period
7:55 TB Kucherov (18), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
8:33 TB Johnson (18), (Sergachev, Kucherov)
12:19 MTL Kulak (1), (Tatar, Danault)
13:11 MTL Shaw (11), (Lehkonen, Weber)

Third Period
9:36 TB Erne (5), (Stralman, Hedman)
18:58 TB Erne (6), (Gourde, Cirelli)

Adam Erne and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars. One of these crazy, high scoring games you can excuse as an anomaly. Two in a row is an alarming trend. I'll just reiterate it: There needs to be a team-wide refocusing, because this isn't sustainable and it's not acceptable to be allowing this many goals a game.

With one more game to go in this 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning have already banked 14 insurance points on the year. They're more than a full 10-game segment ahead of playoff pace, meaning they could play just below sub-.400 hockey from here on out and still sneak into the postseason. That's great, mind you, but it's not an invitation for complacency.

Mathieu Joseph was -3 in his return from injury in 6:54 of ice time. Joseph is eight NHL appearances this season shy of graduation from prospect status on the site.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 14:04. He was also 54% on 13 draws. Cirelli will retire from prospect status on the site in just two more NHL appearances this year.

Erne had 2 goals and an assist and was +4 with 3 shots in 10:47. His game gave you a full display of what this young player can provide the team from the faceoff dots down in the offensive zone — big body who was tough to knock off the puck on the cycle. Got a defender on his back boxing him out with the big body in front to jab home the rebound on his first goal. And then you see the hand skills with the wicked release on one-time on the pass coming out of the corner top shelf with a near perfect shot. Keeping Erne healthy and continuing to develop him as a contributor as this regular season wears on ought to be a priority for the team, because he's got the kind of game that travels well at playoff time and they don't have a ton of guys in the organization like him.

Erik Cernak had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-27-18 Flyers at Lightning

Another wild and crazy affirmation of the 3-goal rule.

PHI-5
TB-6 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 33 shots for the OT win.

First Period
10:50 PHI Raffl (2), (Laughton, Sanheim)
13:56 TB Kucherov (17), (Johnson, Point)
19:12 TB Point (22), (Gourde, Stamkos)(PP)

Second Period
4:36 PHI Giroux (13), (MacDonald, Gudas)
12:23 TB Stamkos (21), (Kucherov)
14:54 TB Stamkos (22), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
19:51 TB Johnson (17), (Kucherov, Stamkos)

Third Period
1:33 PHI Weise (5), (VanReimsdyk)
4:21 PHI Hagg (4), (Giroux, VanReimsdyk)
8:38 PHI Provorov (4), (Voracek, Couturier)

Overtime
0:18 TB Killorn (10), (Cirelli)

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

I'm going to chalk the weird complexion of this game to it being the first one back from the Christmas break and try not to read too much into it, other than that the old rule held true. The team that holds a 3-goal lead anytime after 40 minutes of hockey seemingly wins 99.9% of the time, even if the other team manages to come back and tie it.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper and was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 16:36. He was also 39% on 18 draws.

Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-22-18 Lightning at Oilers

Lightning complete Western Canada swing with impressive display of stamina.

TB-6
EDM-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Had a real highlight reel stop on McDavid in the First Period, but honestly wasn't called upon to make a ton of big saves despite all of Edmonton's firepower.

First Period
10:15 EDM Nugent-Hopkins (12), (McDavid, Puljujarvi)
17:09 TB Stamkos (19), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
2:50 EDM Chiasson (16), (Nurse, McDavid)(PP)
13:00 TB Kucherov (16), (unassisted)
14:32 TB Miller (7), (Cernak, Killorn)

Third Period
4:17 TB Johnson (15), (Point, Kucherov)
6:17 EDM Draisaitl (17), (McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins)
15:03 TB Stamkos (20), (Kucherov, Stralman)
18:35 TB Johnson (16), (Kucherov, Point)(EN)

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

Wow. What an impressive display by the Lightning tonight under the circumstances. They're at the end of an arduous four game road swing through Western Canada with Christmas beckoning. They had every incentive to call this a schedule loss. But, instead, they outshoot Edmonton 45-28 on the game and then blow them off the rink in the Third Period with the contest still in doubt.

I legit did not expect this team to get 7 of a possible 8 points on this road swing either. Between the travel and playing a different style of teams out west, I expected just a little cooling off. Nope. Still red hot. 37 games into the season they're sitting on 58 points. That would be a decent number after 47 games. This is a ridiculous pace through 37. I'm not ready to anoint the Lightning as anything, and over in the Metro Washington and Pittsburgh appear to be taking the season more seriously now that we're deep into December. There's challenges ahead for this Lightning team. But... this year feels different.

Danick Martel had 3 shots and 1 hit in 9:11.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 shots in 15:45. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Erik Cernak had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:27. I thought he was excellent tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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