Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruised but unbroken.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 30 shots before allowing 2 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. He looked like he was battling it a bit at times tonight, but 2 goals in 65 minutes is strong, even if the Bruins' second goal was a bit soft.
7:57 BOS Pastrnak (9), (Spooner, Lucic)
15:29 TB Stamkos (37), (unassisted)
2:20 BOS Bergeron (19), (Seidenberg)
8:04 TB Namestnikov (5), (Barberio, Sustr)
BOS- Bergeron, Marchand
Boston's media, bastions of class and taste that they are, decided to award all three stars to Bruins players in a game that went to the shootout and where the Lightning outshot and outchanced the B's. Quite scum baggy on their part.
Everything was going against the Lightning going into this game as they found out they'll be facing extended absences by Palat, Coburn, and Paquette due to injury and they were heading into a barn where they simply have been cursed. They had a pretty poor First Period adjusting to the shuffled lines and pairings, but from the Second Period on they dominated, eventually outshooting the Bruins 37-30 for the game. That's an impressive show of strength from the Lightning's depth players, especially given how much Boston traps. Honestly, the two goals Boston got tonight were a goal that could've easily been waved off for being kicked in and a point shot softie that Bishop didn't get. If anything, these close games against Montreal and Boston have been very good stress tests heading toward the playoffs, and for the most part the team has responded impressively.
With Montreal going down to Ottawa tonight, all is now square at 91 points stop the Atlantic Division with Montreal holding just 1 game in hand. The Canadiens hardly look like world beaters right now, though, so the Lightning are in good shape to take this at the finish line even with the injuries.
Mike Angelidis had 1 hit in 7:36.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:11. I thought he was pretty heady with the puck, for the most part, but it was clear he had some struggles with the size and physicality of the Bruins' forwards. So, the coaching staff had to be careful about usage with Nikita tonight.
Vladislav Namestnikov had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 12:29. He very quickly moved up to take the Palat spot on the line with Johnson and Kucherov and performed admirably. His goal was a pretty nice display of skill to quickly get the puck up to his stick after a point shot hit some traffic in front. He's looking like a guy who will be very hard to send down to Syracuse ever again.
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.