Tampa Bay Lightning
Think Atlanta is starting to hear footsteps?
Johan Holmqvist stopped 24 of 26 shots faced in the win and has won 8 of his last 9 starts. King Holmer officially en fuego. Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis each had a pair of assists on the night with the Lightning goals belonging to Paul Ranger, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier (Lecavalier and Richards' goals being of the blistering/unstoppable power play variety). Eric Perrin and Ryan Craig added individual helpers.
The Lightning are cooler than the other side of the pillow in one goal games right now. It took a while for this team to find its confidence, but right now they've got swagger. And, don't look now, but by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to Philly the Lightning have now moved within six points of the division lead with a game still in hand. Furthermore, the Lightning have now tied the Thrashers with 29 wins and, looking at the schedule, the Lightning get the worst team in the Western Conference Tuesday night (Los Angeles) and the Thrashers get to play the best in the East (Buffalo). This thing could EASILY be down to 4 points with a game in hand if the Lightning stay focused and take care of business against the Kings. If I'm Thrashers GM Don Waddell, I'm having Doctor Feel Good call in a 'scrip for Valium right about now.
This is fun.
NY Rangers 7:31, Jason Krog 3 (Brendan Shanahan, Marcel Hossa)
Tampa Bay 6:51, Paul Ranger 3 (Dan Boyle, Eric Perrin)
Tampa Bay 14:06, Brad Richards 19 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis)
NY Rangers 18:23, Michael Nylander 17 (power play) (Jaromir Jagr, Karel Rachunek)
Tampa Bay 11:53, Vincent Lecavalier 33 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Ryan Craig)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Holmer and the road warriors just smacked the champs in the mouth in their own barn. I like it.
Johan Holmqvist pitches a 31 save shutout for the win. The shutout is the first of Johan's career and he improves his season record to 17-10-0. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier continued on their MVP caliber tears through the NHL with 1 goal and 1 assist each. Vaclav Prospal added 2 assists of his own as well. The other Lightning goals came from Ryan Craig and Doug Janik. Eric Perrin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Richards added individual helpers.
The well oiled war machine that is the Lightning on the road extended their franchise record winning streak away from the SP Times Forum to 7 straight games. More importantly, the Lightning have caught the Carolina Hurricanes at 58 points with the Lightning still holding a game in hand. And, by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to the Islanders tonight the Lightning are now with single digits of the division leader at 8 points behind. The Lightning still hold a game in hand on Atlanta and, more importantly, have two more head-to-head games left on the schedule for a total of six potential points the Lightning can pick up quickly. I am reminded of 2002-2003 when the Lightning ran down the Washington Capitals from behind like a hungry lion runs down a misfortunate antelope.
If the Lightning can stay focused and remain hot for the next couple of weeks, then the spotlight should fall squarely on GM Jay Feaster. Feaster knows as we all do that the team is just a deal or two away from being a serious title contender. It will be incumbent on him to pull the trigger and hit the right targets to give this team the reinforcements they need. If he does, look out. Dare we use the pun, Lightning could strike twice?
Rookie Blair Jones had 5:39 of ice time tonight and was 40% on draws with 2 penalty minutes (and looked about 1,000,000% more comfortable than last time out).
Tampa Bay 15:12, Ryan Craig 12 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 19:23, Doug Janik 2 (Eric Perrin, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 2:49, Vincent Lecavalier 32 (Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 9:29, Martin St. Louis 32 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports:
First the tradeâ€¦
Lightning have traded Andy Delmore and Andre Deveaux to Atlanta in exchange for Stephen Baby and Kyle Wanvig. All four players will remain in the minors for now, Delmore and Deveaux to Chicago while Baby and Wanvig will be assigned to Springfield.
Of note, apparently Delmore may more than likely stay in the minors as Philadelphia is ready to swipe him off waivers if he is put on recall, so there is a good chance that Delmore wonâ€™t come back to bite the Lightning as a member of the Thrashers this season.
All hail King Holmer.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 32 shots faced in overtime and regulation before stopping 2 of 2 in the shootout to remain a perfect 15 for 15 in the shootout this season. A bit of a softie on the Richardson goal tonight, but Holmqvist made up for it on several stops tonight. This was not necessarily a game the Lightning deserved to win, but as road warriors they've been finding ways to grind out two points out of these games lately. The win is the Lightning's sixth straight road win which is a new team record.
Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning offensively. Ruslan Fedotenko had the other Lightning goal (and played great tonight) and Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle, Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba added individual helpers. Lecavalier and Brad Richards (who also played great tonight) had the Lightning's shootout talleys.
For anyone wondering, Blair Jones played just 4 shifts tonight for 2:36 of ice time. He had 1 blocked shot and was 2-for-2 on faceoffs. His last three shifts he must've been in stealth mode, because his first period shift was the only time I saw him all night.
The win, coupled with a Carolina loss against Toronto tonight, moves the Lightning within 2 points of second place in the Southeast Division with a game in hand and the Hurricanes on the slate for Thursday night. The team also maintains pace with Atlanta 10 points back of the division lead with 1 game in hand on the Thrashers and 2 head-to-head matchups remaining on the schedule. The Lightning can almost certainly make a run at this, especially with the bottomfeeding Panthers on the schedule 5 more times.
Tampa Bay 6:32, Martin St. Louis 31 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle)
Philadelphia 7:23, Mike Richards 2 (shorthanded) (Alexei Zhitnik, Joni Pitkanen)
Philadelphia 18:49, Jeff Carter 7 (shorthanded) (Simon Gagne, Denis Gauthier)
Tampa Bay 19:24, Ruslan Fedotenko 11 (power play) (Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger)
Philadelphia 3:13, Peter Forsberg 9 (Joni Pitkanen)
Tampa Bay 12:06, Vincent Lecavalier 31 (Filip Kuba, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay: Lecavalier, Richards
Game sheet from NHL.com.
According to the press release, Jones, 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, has played in 45 games for the Falcons this season. He has scored five goals and recorded 21 points. He played in two games with the Lightning during the 2006 preseason and logged nearly 10 minutes of ice time in each game while landing two hits, recording one takeaway and blocking three shots.
He has already played six games with the Lightning this season. He appeared in his first NHL game November 20 at Buffalo and logged nearly 10 minutes of ice time. He recorded his first career point with an assist on the game winner on November 22 at Florida. He has two assists this season with Tampa Bay.