Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Game Night 12/21: Lightning at Senators

That felt like a turning point to me.

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Marc Denis stopped 16 of 18 shots faced for the win in a game where the Lightning outshot a very skilled and very fast Ottawa team 30-18. Impressive. Paul Ranger and Vincent Lecavalier each had 1 goal and 1 assist with the other Lightning goals coming from Martin St. Louis and Ruslan Fedotenko. Brad Richards added an individual helper.

Tonight felt like a turning point for the Lightning, in my opinion. The Lightning played an incredibly solid game against a team they traditionally struggle with more than any other club in the league. To hold a team as loaded as Ottawa to 18 shots is simply amazing, and with the exception of the Lightning's usual impotent power play performance they crossed every T and dotted every I in this game and all those details you address over the course of 60 minutes will inevitably add up to a win. It was 100% appropriate the game winning goal by Ranger came off a little thing like a faceoff win. This team has lost a slew of one goal games this season because they haven't managed the details this year. Tonight showed when they do, they can beat even their most formidable nemesis soundly.

In my opinion, this was a very critical game for both Ottawa and Tampa. Neither team is playing well right now and I had a feeling going into this one that the winner had a chance to springboard and get well positioned in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt while the loser could be reeling for at least another week or two. Fortunately, the Lightning put forth one of their best efforts and if they can knock off a talented by struggling Rangers squad on Saturday they can pull into Christmas at .500. That seemed impossible just a week ago. .500 on December 25th sets this team up nicely to break out strong once they get back to work.

By the way, if this team does break out after Christmas, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis will both be MVP candidates down the stretch of this season. They've been incredible this year and easily a couple of the best kept secrets in the league, if that's possible. 9 out of 10 games this season they've been the two best players on the ice not just for the Lightning but both teams on the rink. The only serious question to me isn't whether or not they're worthy of consideration to get the hardware, but rather which one is Batman and which one is Robin?

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
Ottawa 2:21, Dany Heatley 20 (power play) (Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza)
Tampa Bay 5:46, Martin St. Louis 23 (Vincent Lecavalier)
Ottawa 13:53, Antoine Vermette 13 (Patrick Eaves)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 3:30, Ruslan Fedotenko 9 (Paul Ranger)
Tampa Bay 8:53, Paul Ranger 1 (Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 19:07, Vincent Lecavalier 20 (empty net) (unassisted)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/19: Lightning at Capitals

Thank goodness.

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Marc Denis stopped 20 of 24 shots for the win. Filip Kuba and Vincent Lecavalier paced the Lightning with 1 goal and 2 assists in the game. Martin St. Louis also chipped in 2 goals with Nikita Alexeev scoring the other Lightning marker. Dan Boyle, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal and Cory Sarich each chipped in a helper in the contest.

The win will keep the Lightning 2 points ahead of Florida, which is pounding Toronto tonight 7-1 and will move the team back to 2 games under .500. Baby steps, I suppose.

First Period
Tampa Bay 7:34, Filip Kuba 4 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 12:54, Martin St. Louis 21 (Vincent Lecavalier, Cory Sarich)
Washington 13:54, Alexander Ovechkin 23 (Brooks Laich, Brian Sutherby)
Tampa Bay 17:15, Vincent Lecavalier 19 (power play) (Filip Kuba, Dan Boyle)

Second Period
Tampa Bay 1:35, Martin St. Louis 22 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Filip Kuba)
Washington 8:36, Jamie Heward 3 (power play) (Ben Clymer, Kris Beech)
Tampa Bay 19:18, Nikita Alexeev 10 (Ruslan Fedotenko)

Third Period
Washington 10:29, Kris Beech 4 (power play) (Alexander Semin, Ben Clymer)
Washington 12:12, Bryan Muir 3 (Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/16: Hurricanes at Lightning

Someone pass me a bucket.

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Marc Denis stopped 24 of 27 shots faced as the Lightning continue to find new and creative ways to waste opportunities to get points and slide further and further under .500. Ryan Craig had 1 goal and 1 assist in the game while Martin St. Louis scored the other Lightning goal. Individual helpers belonged to Brad Richards, Vaclav Prospal and Eric Perrin.

I'm at a loss for words at this point. When the goaltending plays well, the offense breaks down. When the offense plays well the defense breaks down. And when this team gets in a one goal game, it seems incapable of making that one critical play it needs to stay out of the loss column. How does a team that has won so many games over the past two seasons forget how to do the little things that will put them over the top in a close game?

Don't look now, but the Panthers are just 2 points behind in the standings. Good grief.

First Period
None

Second Period
Tampa Bay 7:49, Ryan Craig 9 (Brad Richards, Vaclav Prospal)
Carolina 13:05, Ray Whitney 11 (power play) (Keith Aucoin)

Third Period
Carolina 12:58, Eric Staal 17 (Erik Cole)
Carolina 18:36, Ray Whitney 12 (Justin Williams, Eric Belanger)
Tampa Bay 19:04, Martin St. Louis 20 (power play) (Eric Perrin, Ryan Craig)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/14: Lightning at Canadiens

There's nothing much to say. This team just seems to have the worst kind of karma right now.

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The Lightning outshot Montreal 41-20 in the game, but Huet stood on his head allowing the Canadiens to stay in the game. They get a deflection goal in the third to tie and then a semi-soft shorthander later in the period (Denis must stop that one) and that's all she wrote. It's gotten into the realm of the absurd now.

First Period
Montreal 8:29, Mark Streit 1 (shorthanded) (Sheldon Souray, Tomas Plekanec)
Tampa Bay 13:39, Brad Richards 13 (power play) (Vaclav Prospal, Filip Kuba)

Second Period
Tampa Bay 18:42, Martin St. Louis 19 (Vincent Lecavalier, Nolan Pratt)

Third Period
Montreal 6:38, Maxim Lapierre 1 (Mike Komisarek, Garth Murray)
Montreal 13:34, Saku Koivu 11 (shorthanded) (Alexei Kovalev, Sheldon Souray)
Montreal 19:14, Saku Koivu 12 (empty net) (Mark Streit, Sheldon Souray)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/12: Lightning at Maple Leafs

For some reason, I want to believe tonight's collapse is rock bottom, but the more I think about it the more aprehensive I am that the worst is yet to come.

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The Lightning choked away a 3-1 lead by allowing 4 unanswered goals in a 20 minute segment between the second and third periods in the loss. Johan Holmqvist stopped just 20 of 25 shots he faced in taking the L and it appears as teams start to see him the second time around, they're eating him alive. I've never seen a 6'3" goaltender play smaller than Holmqvist does, and I'm not sure if it's correctable at this stage of his career. The good news is that young prospects like Karri Ramo and Jonathan Boutin are getting better by the game in the AHL, but that's not helping the team right now.

Vincent Lecavalier, who would be a bona fide MVP candidate if the team wasn't underacheiving at 1 game under .500, had 1 goal and 2 assists in the game while his partner in crime, Martin St. Louis, had 1 goal and 1 assist. Filip Kuba and Dan Boyle each had 2 helpers while Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards had the other Lightning goals.

At this point, you're going to hear the mighty Wurlitzer that is the Canadian hockey media start writing the Lightning's epitaph and I have no doubt the bogus trade rumors are going to start flowing hot and heavy. A lot of pressure is going to come bearing down on Feaster to make some sort of changes to right the ship and this team desperately needs a stay-at-home top four defenseman and possibly a decent natural right winger as well. It's beginning to get to the point where the points this team isn't picking up against beatable opponents like Toronto will definitely destroy their playoff chances, and I fear what the result will be if and when PS&E's bean counters decide to downsize the payroll. If these players really do value their time in Tampa and the team that has been built there over the past 7-8 years, they need to step up now because there will be irrevocable structural changes to the roster if they don't. I feel like John just introduced Yoko to the rest of the group, and this band may be on borrowed time.

First Period
Toronto 3:28, Alexei Ponikarovsky 9 (power play) (Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe)
Tampa Bay 7:32, Nikita Alexeev 9 (Vincent Lecavalier, Filip Kuba)
Tampa Bay 12:29, Vincent Lecavalier 18 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Filip Kuba)

Second Period
Tampa Bay 0:24, Brad Richards 12 (Martin St. Louis)
Toronto 12:55, Chad Kilger 5 (Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca)
Toronto 19:30, Chad Kilger 6 (Michael Peca, Pavel Kubina)

Third Period
Toronto 3:37, Darcy Tucker 18 (power play) (Mats Sundin, Kyle Wellwood)
Toronto 10:55, Jeff O'Neill 9 (Bates Battaglia, Ian White)
Tampa Bay 16:16, Martin St. Louis 18 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

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