Syracuse Crunch clamp down on Panthers B squad.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout victory. This is an excellent start for a netminder who just got a prove it contract who may have an NHL backup opportunity looming in his future once the Lightning sort out their starting situation up top.
3:54 TB Morin (1), (unassisted)
14:48 TB Point (2), (Morin, Bournival)
Gudlevskis, Jeremy Morin, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars. Kudos to the Lightning equipment guys for having the sense of humor to stick Morin in #33. He's one letter away from being a Lightning all-timer. Made me double-take, for certain.
If the Lightning preseason opener was a showcase for the team's junior prospects, tonight was an opportunity for many prospects earmarked for the Syracuse Crunch. And, on first blush, I'd think new coach Benoit Groulx will be pleased with what he saw tonight.
Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:37. 90% on 10 draws is pleasing to the eye. I remain convinced that for Syracuse to go anywhere, Peca's going to have to become a big time AHL player. He'll have a little more help this season with Brayden Point in Syracuse, but as an older and more experienced guy, he's one I suspect needs to become one of the leaders for the Crunch.
Tanner Richard had 2 hits in 16:49. 13% on 8 draws is a little cringe-worthy stat line on draws. He's on the clock now to make a push and earn a look in the NHL. Not sure he really flashed enough tonight.
Brayden Point had his second goal in as many games and was +2 with 3 shots in 14:02. He was also 45% on 11 draws. The Lightning are already trying to tamp down expectations because they know Point needs seasoning and experience, but his raw talent is undeniable.
Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 16:58.
Mike Halmo had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 11:48.
Gabriel Dumont had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:57.
Daniel Walcott had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:43.
Dylan Blujus had 3 shots and 4 blocked shots in 18:34. Blujus is a guy who somewhat falls into the same boat as Richard. He needs to start making a push to challenge Witkowski to become the Lightning's first righty callup from Syracuse.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:48.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 in 16:40. The Lightning have played Koekkoek in both games, which is telling, but they've also resolved not to give him a gigantic load of minutes in these games as they might've been tempted to do. That tells me they're easing Koekkoek into a marathon rather than putting him through a sprint of a look-see.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Yanni Gourde to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Gourde, 24, appeared in two games with the Lightning during the 2015-16 regular season, posting an assist and two penalty minutes. Gourde made his NHL debut with the Bolts last season on December 15 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and posted an assist, his first career NHL point. The 5-foot-9, 167-pound forward also played in 65 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League last season, recording 14 goals and 44 points to go along with 42 penalty minutes. He ranked fourth on Syracuse for points and assists and was tied for fourth on the club for goals.
The Saint-Narcisse, Quebec native has skated in two career NHL games, all with the Lightning last season, posting an assist. Gourde has also played in 242 career AHL games over five seasons with the Crunch and Worcester Sharks, collecting 58 goals and 150 points. During the 2014-15 season, Gourde led the Crunch for goals with 29 and ranked second for points with 57.
Gourde went undrafted and originally agreed to terms with the Lightning on March 9, 2014.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have issued qualifying offers to seven players today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
The deadline for NHL clubs to issue offers is today. By issuing qualifying offers to the aforementioned players, the Lightning are given the right of the first refusal or draft choice compensation should the player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club.
Forward David Broll was not issued a qualifying offer and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016.
BP Commentary (Chad): Really no huge surprises here. McGinn is a nice depth forward who will continue to help Syracuse. Gourde was not part of the Black Aces last year despite being a call-up earlier in the season, but he was hurt. He's also nice depth, a year removed from leading the Crunch in goals. Nesterov was a no-brainer though he's been passed by Slater Koekkoek, but again, depth. Broll's exit isn't surprising. Boko Imama could take his spot as the Crunch's pugilist, though he doesn't have a contract. Boko can go back to Saint John as an overager, or he could be signed to an AHL deal and have his rights retained, and therefore wouldn't count against the organization's 50-man roster. The guess here is Tampa Bay is in a wait-and-see mode over the summer.
Syracuse leaves a critical point on the rink.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 32 shots and 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
SYR Gourde, (14) (Erne, Richard), 9:29 (PP)
ALB O’Neill, (12) (Lorito, Novak), 12:10
SYR Erne, (14) (Gourde, Witkowski), 5:26
ALB Lorito, (18) (Lappin, O’Neill), 13:23
ALB Kujawinski, (5) (Rooney), 2:05
SYR Richard, (11) (Vermin, DeAngelo), 5:35
Syracuse falls 7 points back of Utica and Bridgeport in the playoff chase with both teams holding a game in hand on the Crunch. At this point, to make the postseason, it's pretty much going to take Syracuse winning out and one of those other two clubs losing out. Both scenarios seem incredibly unlikely.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch score gigantic win as playoff push continues.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 40 shots for the victory. He was a difference maker tonight, and he's now run off 5 straight wins and he's got a .936 save percentage this month. Peaking in crunch time.
SYR Drouin, (9) (Peca, Martindale), 8:11 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (13) (Ikonen, Martindale), 14:50
SYR Martindale, (4) (Gourde, Ikonen), 11:55
RCH Baptiste, (11) (Mormina), 17:50
Tonight was a crucially important 4-point divisional encounter, and by virtue of the win the 4th place Crunch extended their margin over the 5th place Americans to 6 points with Rochester holding 2 points in hand. Just as importantly, Syracuse stays within 2 points of 3rd place Utica, which beat the tar out of Binghamton tonight. With the divisional crossover rule, the Crunch likely need to catch Utica, which has 2 games in hand on Syracuse and a big ROW advantage. It may take Syracuse darned near running the table to make the postseason, and they're making a good go at just that. Oh, by the way, there's a home-and-home against Utica in 2 weeks. 4/15 and 4/16. Circle it on your calendars and double star it, too.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
IceCaps crushed under an avalanche of multi-point nights by Syracuse.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. Bath in the waters of sweet, sweet goal support, Kristers. Savor it.
STJ Hudon, (21) (Holloway, MacMillan), 1:23
SYR Gourde, (11) (Blujus, Richard), 7:10
SYR Tambellini, (24) (DeAngelo, Gourde), 14:25 (PP)
SYR Richard, (10) (DeAngelo, Tambellini), 9:16 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (12) (Koekkoek), 10:46
SYR Drouin, (6) (DeAngelo, Richard), 12:31
STJ Hudon, (22) (Ellis, Holloway), 14:49 (PP)
SYR Drouin, (7) (McGinn, Vermin), 19:45 (PP)
Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Jeff Tambellini and Anthony DeAngelo also had multi-point nights, with DeAngelo breaking the 40 point plateau for the season with his 3 assists.
Syracuse continues to hover just on the outer edge of the playoff picture with just 11 games left in their regular season. Their 6-2-1-1 record in the last 10 games and back-to-back wins have given them a chance, but they'll need to keep up the pace to make it to the dance.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Yanni Gourde is focused on the results more than his statistics.
One season after piling up a career-high 29 goals, the Syracuse Crunch forward realized his role has has shifted away from being the main triggerman on the ice. Over the last month Gourde has found chemistry with Tanner Richard and Mike Blunden on the first line, and has used his speed to consistently create scoring opportunities.
Gourde may not be on pace for another 29-goal season, but he is pleased someone is scoring them.
“I’m trying to go to the net and do the right thing,” said Gourde, who has seven goals and 22 assists in 48 games this season. “Right now it’s not going in, but I have to keep working on it. Right now (Blunden) is getting the goals and I’m happy.”
Bears pull away to halt Crunch point streak.
Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss.
SYR Richard, (6) (Blunden, Gourde), 1:01
SYR Erne, (8) (Blunden, Richard), 5:55 (PP)
HER Boyd, (10) (Carey, Gomez), 6:26 (PP)
HER O'Brien, (3) , 1:01
HER Mitchell, (8) (Carrick), 5:08
SYR Gourde, (7) (Martindale, Witkowski), 8:48 (SH)
HER Gazley, (10) (Djoos, Camper), 11:10
HER Collins, (10) , 18:55 (EN/SH)
Yanni Gourde and Tanner Richard were the game's second and third stars. Richard's multi-point night puts him at 5 goals and 13 points in 13 games for the month of January. Richard had just 1 goal and 15 points this season prior to the new year.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Third Period meltdown tarnishes solid Lightning effort.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the loss. Situational saves matter. The Oshie goal off the wing high short side cannot be allowed in that situation. It's got to be a higher caliber scoring chance that beats you there. That, among other things, opened the door to the meltdown that happened.
8:18 TB Killorn (5), (Marchessault, Coburn)
6:54 TB Sustr (1), (Kucherov)
9:04 TB Stamkos (12), (Hedman, Stralman)
13:49 WSH Ovechkin (15), (Oshie, Carlson)(PP)
7:54 WSH Oshie (11), (unassisted)
10:02 WSH Ovechkin (16), (Chimera, Williams)(PP)
14:16 WSH Johansson (6), (Oshie, Ovechkin)(PP)
19:35 WSH Oshie (12), (Backstrom, Ovechkin)(EN)
That's a tough one. It's not that the Lightning lost to a really good team like the Capitals, it's that they looked like they were going to post a watershed victory only to see it implode right before their eyes. Add it to the list of similar losses the Lightning have suffered this season.
Part of the Lightning's undoing tonight has to be attributed to the officials. The refs giftwrapped a pair of highly questionable phantom calls on a slash to Stamkos off a faceoff that ended up cutting the Lightning lead to 3-1 and a ticky tack interference call at the bench on Hedman that allowed Washington to tie the game. Take that phantom slash on Stamkos away, and the Lightning likely take a 3-0 game into the locker room and the outcome is pretty much in the bag. Mind you, the PK has to do better than go 1-for-4, but I'm more than a little bitter about the night the zebras had.
There's plenty of silver linings from the night, the biggest of which was Stamkos snapping out of his goal scoring slump. It's amazing how he looked like he was shot out of a cannon in the Third Period with that weight lifted from his shoulders. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he went on a tear over the coming few weeks. But, you know, that's not going to take the sour taste out of this one.
Mike Angelidis had 3 hits in 7:57. Hard working night on the fourth line.
Jonathan Marchessault had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:25. He had a strong game, including hitting a post that was nearly a key goal in the Third Period that might've allowed the Lightning to stave off the coming disaster.
Yanni Gourde had 2 hits in 7:43.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 14:06. I thought he played one of his better games in a while tonight.
Character building victory for the weary Lightning.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 37 shots for the OT victory. None of his goals were brutally soft tonight, mind you, but you had goals resulting from rebound control in tight, sliding too far out of position to challenge a first shot, and another going through him under his arm. Point being: he can play better. And, for everyone who was ready to usher Ben Bishop out of town to anoint Vasilevskiy just a couple months ago: slow down.
2:59 TB Kucherov (12), (Namestnikov)
10:40 TOR Bozak (5), (van Riemsdyk, Parenteau)(PP)
18:03 TOR van Riemsdyk (9), (Bozak, Parenteau)
11:34 TOR Rielly (4), (Komarov)
19:24 TB Stralman (3), (Kucherov)
5:56 TB Blunden (1), (Gourde, Sustr)
6:32 TB Marchessault (4), (Killorn, Sustr)
13:28 TOR Winnik (3), (Polak, Spaling)
2:01 TB Namestnikov (6), (unassisted)
Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's first star. Well deserved because he was excellent from start to finish. He's now got double the goals of Valtteri Filppula and has edged ahead of Filppula in points despite playing fewer minutes. Oh, and one is +7 this year and the other is -9, too. I feel like Vladislav's clearly on the cusp of stardom and Filppula is borderline stealing money, which points to some difficult moves that Yzerman really needs to make happen.
Overall the game was 39 minutes of some of the worst hockey the Lightning have played all season followed by the kind of character-building moments that could allow the Lightning to come out a much better team by the end of the year if they can keep manufacturing points. The Lightning looked dead tired and flat as a pancake for most of the first two periods after playing on the tail end of a back-to-back and their 3rd game in 4 nights while also dealing with the clown show that is the Toronto media whenever Stamkos is in town. They looked dead late in the Second Period when the Toronto defense decided to revert to the norm and the Red Sea parted for Anton Stralman to cut the lead to 3-2. Game changing moment.
From that point on, the Lightning took control of the tenor of the game with two key strikes brought by fresh legs from the Syracuse Crunch. Toronto managed to get a seeing eye goal off a faceoff to salvage a point, but it's an absolutely amazing thing to see the Lightning athletically dominating a Toronto team late even after Toronto had a week off heading into this one. Namestnikov punctuated it by scorching past the Toronto 3-man unit to create his own breakaway and the game winning goal.
Bear in mind this is a Lightning team that has absolutely stunk at coming from behind in Third Periods the past couple of years. I haven't looked it up, but it feels like the Lightning have only won 3 or 4 games (including tonight) coming from behind in the Third Period the last 2 seasons, and they hadn't done it yet this year. They're learning how to win games when the goals don't come to them. They're learning how to win games when they're hurt. They're learning how to win games when they're tired. They're learning how to win games from behind. Sure, a lot of that education also came in the playoffs last year, but I want you to imagine what this graduate course in weathering adversity could lead to once Johnson, Palat, Drouin, Paquette, and all of Santa's other reindeer come off the IR. If I were the NHL, I'd be terrified if the Lightning can weather this storm and make the playoffs.
Jonathan Marchessault had a goal, 3 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 17:13. He was really good tonight. Caught some bad luck with his stick breaking leading to the 2-on-1 that led to the Rielly goal, but he stuck to it and got the goal to go ahead 4-3 in the Third Period. Note, he now also has more goals than the previously mentioned Filppula.
Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 6:55. It's Gourde's birthday and his NHL debut, and it improved greatly once he got that interference call out of the way in his first or second shift in the league.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45. He's still not where he was a year ago, and that's a little concerning.