Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning just made a huge statement in the early season jockeying for divisional supremacy.
John Tortorella continues to ride with the hot hand as Johan Holmqvist stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win. The Lightning scored 4 unanswered goals to start the game and never looked back. Dan Boyle led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist and was named first star of the game. Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards also had 1 goal and 1 assist while Martin St. Louis chipped in a pair of helpers. Richards and St. Louis were named second and third stars respectively. Ryan Craig and Vincent Lecavalier also had goals for the Lightning with individual helpers going to Paul Ranger, Filip Kuba and Vaclav Prospal. The Lightning outshot the Thrashers 36-30 in the game.
I hope the national hockey media takes notice of what occured in this game. In their race to heap piles of praise upon the Thrashers and annoint them as Eastern Conference royalty, they seem to have forgotten that the Lightning, along with the Carolina Hurricanes, are the only battle tested teams in this division with hardware to prove it. With the victory, the Lightning are now 8 points behind Atlanta for the division lead, but it should be noted the team has 3 games in hand on their rivals from Georgia. I expect the race for the Southeast to get much tighter in the next month and then we'll see if Atlanta truly has the endurance for this kind of marathon. To this point of their franchise's existence, they have not.
Tampa Bay 17:55, Ryan Craig 6 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Paul Ranger)
Tampa Bay 4:58, Dan Boyle 1 (power play) (Filip Kuba, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 12:26, Brad Richards 5 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 15:29, Vincent Lecavalier 10 (Nikita Alexeev, Martin St. Louis)
Atlanta 19:28, Marian Hossa 14 (power play) (Glen Metropolit, Slava Kozlov)
Atlanta 8:56, Marian Hossa 15 (Slava Kozlov, Shane Hnidy)
Tampa Bay 13:23, Nikita Alexeev 6 (power play) (Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis)
Atlanta 17:16, Steve Rucchin 3 (Slava Kozlov, Niclas Havelid)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
(Springfield Falcons release)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired center Daniel Corso from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for right wing Darren Reid, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.
Corso, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound native of Montreal, Quebec, has appeared in six games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League this season. He has scored two goals and recorded four assists with an even plus/minus rating in his first season with the Phantoms. He spent the 2005-06 season with the Frankfurt Lions, recording 11 goals and 17 assists in 29 games. Corso ranked fourth on the team in points and goals.
That Vinny/Marty magic.
Vincent Lecavalier scored the overtime game winning goal on a breakaway set up by an amazing no look two line pass by Martin St. Louis. St. Louis led the Lightning attack with 2 assists in the game. Dimitry Afanasenkov, Brad Richards, Eric Perrin and Lecavalier scored the goals. Alexeev, Kuba, Craig, Karlsson and Ranger supplied individual assists. Johan Holmqvist stopped 17 of 20 shots faced for the win.
Tonight's game wasn't pretty and the three goal flurry by Pittsburgh in the second period shows the Lightning still haven't figured out how to keep momentum from snowballing negatively after a goal against. Still, it seems like this road trip has cured a great deal of the Lightning's ills. When they started it with their uninspired win in Philadelphia they looked like a tired team that wasn't having fun. Combining Lecavalier and St. Louis on the same line on this trip has had electrifying results, and bit by bit Brad Richards is coming out of his early season slumber and he now has 4 goals this season. 17 points moves the Lightning into a tie for second in the division with the Canes, 10 points behind red hot Atlanta. Fortunately, with the unbalanced schedule, the Lightning will have plenty of opportunity to whittle that down if they can stay in the neighborhood in the standings, and the Lightning also have two games in hand. Critical game Saturday.
Fun with numbers: Vincent Lecavalier is on a pace for 46 goals and 108 points. Martin St. Louis is on a pace for 56 goals and 97 points. Brad Richards is on a pace for 21 goals and 67 points, but Richards is trending positively in the past couple of weeks. If he can get up to a 30 goal pace, and Vinny and Marty stay at or above a point a game with 40+ goal paces, the Lightning are going to reel off some massive winning streaks. Were it not for the shaft job they received in Boston, they would be in the midst of a 4 game streak right now.
Tampa Bay 10:12, Brad Richards 4 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Filip Kuba)
Pittsburgh 15:37, Nils Ekman 3 (Sidney Crosby, Sergei Gonchar)
Pittsburgh 18:19, Nils Ekman 4 (power play) (Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar)
Pittsburgh 19:47, Nils Ekman 5 (Sidney Crosby, Colby Armstrong)
Tampa Bay 4:47, Eric Perrin 3 (Ryan Craig, Andreas Karlsson)
Tampa Bay 2:41, Vincent Lecavalier 9 (Martin St. Louis, Paul Ranger)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
The Islanders are wicked horrible.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 25 of 26 shots faced for the win. Filip Kuba led the way with a pair of power play goals. Andreas Karlsson, Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin each had 1 goal and 1 assist in the game. Vaclav Prospal and Nikita Alexeev each had 2 assists. Ruslan Fedotenko, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards each had individual helpers.
Tampa Bay 12:26, Andreas Karlsson 2 (Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal)
NY Islanders 19:04, Alexei Zhitnik 2 (Chris Simon, Mike York)
Tampa Bay 12:38, Martin St. Louis 11 (power play) (Eric Perrin, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 17:28, Filip Kuba 1 (power play) (Vaclav Prospal, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 12:55, Filip Kuba 2 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Nikita Alexeev)
Tampa Bay 15:32, Eric Perrin 2 (Nikita Alexeev, Andreas Karlsson)
With the win, the Lightning get back to .500 on the season at 7-7-1.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
The Lightning were hosed.
Marc Denis allowed 6 goals on 33 shots for the overtime loss. Denis is now 4-0-1 when the Lightning provide him 3 or more goals of support. Vincent Lecavalier led the Lightning attack with 4 assists and Martin St. Louis had 1 goal and 1 assist. Individual goals went to Afanasenkov, Alexeev, Fedotenko and Richards and individual assists went to Kuba, Prospal and Ranger.
If you ever needed proof the league office in Toronto favors their big market, northeastern traditional teams over their small market, southern expansion cousins, witness Zdeno Chara clearly knocking in the game tying goal with a high stick and after a full 10 minutes of review Toronto still blew the call. And, to add insult to injury, Filip Kuba was given a cross check to give Boston a 5-on-3 which they cashed in on in overtime to take the second point. Kudos to the otherwise attrocious Lightning penalty kill for managing to get out of regulation with a point despite being down two men. I won't sit here and say the Lightning played well (they didn't) in this game, but I do know the NHL robbed the team of a point tonight.
Boston 4:08, Marc Savard 3 (P.J. Axelsson, Glen Murray)
Tampa Bay 12:13, Ruslan Fedotenko 6 (power play) (Vaclav Prospal, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 7:15, Brad Richards 3 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Filip Kuba)
Boston 9:08, Marc Savard 4 (Glen Murray, Nathan Dempsey)
Boston 11:03, Phil Kessel 3 (Shean Donovan, Wayne Primeau)
Tampa Bay 11:13, Nikita Alexeev 5 (Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 15:38, Martin St. Louis 10 (Vincent Lecavalier, Paul Ranger)
Boston 17:47, P.J. Axelsson 4 (power play) (Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron)
Tampa Bay 18:14, Dmitry Afanasenkov 2 (unassisted)
Boston 19:13, Zdeno Chara 3 (power play) (Marc Savard, Paul Mara)
Boston 0:17, Glen Murray 6 (power play) (Paul Mara, Marc Savard)
Game sheet from NHL.com.