Montreal defense throws the net over the Lightning.
Montreal Leads the Series 2-0
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss before giving way to Kristers Gudlevskis, who allowed 1 on 4 shots the rest of the way. If Cooper had a wild hair to put Gudlevskis in for Game Three, the wraparound goal Gudlevskis allowed might've quieted that thought down. As for Lindback, the third goal went through him on a greasy little bounce back to Gallagher off the blocked shot and he whiffed on the poke check on Bourque's goal, but on balance he played reasonably well and kept the Lightning around for most of the game. Goaltending isn't the reason the Lightning are losing this series so far.
2:34 MTL Desharnais (1), (Subban, Pacioretty)(PP)
10:35 MTL Bourque (1), (Vanek, Subban)
11:46 MTL Gallagher (1), (unassisted)
14:39 MTL Bourque (2), (Eller)
18:01 TB Purcell (1), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
The first 10 minutes of the game took on the dimension of a lot of the regular season games between Tampa Bay and Montreal with the Lightning dominating possession and the Canadiens getting a few counter attacks in. That's where the Lightning need to get this series to get back into it. If possession is even or tilted in favor of Montreal, Price is probably too good to overcome. Unfortunately, in the second half of the First Period, a 4-minute minor on Stamkos started to take the starch out of the Lightning's offensive flow and when Desharnais scored the PP goal early in the Second Period after a ticky tack call on Panik, the offensive flow completely dissipated altogether. There's just too much inconsistency moving up the ice as a unit. Passing is off. Guys aren't consistently supporting their linemates. It wasn't as lopsided as the score indicates (shots were 27-26), but the Lightning need to get better within their structure to defeat Montreal's. It's a process, and they were certainly more together and composed than in Game One, and this series is nowhere near over. I reiterate the lesson of the 2003 series against Washington, when a young, talented Lightning team really looked terrible against a veteran Caps team in Game One and Game Two. Once they figured it out in Game Three, they swept the rest of that series. I have a feeling the Lightning may be capable of a similar breakout, but getting that first win is going to be the toughest. Hopefully the Lightning realize that and also realize the worst thing they can do at this moment is panic. Just win one game. That's all they need to worry about right now.
Mike Kostka had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 13:13. His lack of speed and strength and decision making with the puck were a bit of an issue again tonight. At this stage, if I'm Cooper, I'm going to try to spark something by throwing Mark Barberio in against his hometown team for Game Three in lieu of Kostka, but we'll see how he plays it.
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 12 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 10:18. He certainly wasn't at fault for the minus in the first Bourque goal where Salo was turned the wrong way, and he had a pretty glorious chance on Price in tight off a nice setup by Purcell. I like what Paquette brings, and on paper he's a playoff-style performer. But, needing a spark, again, if I'm Cooper I'm going in with Pyatt in Game Three.
One more to go.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 36 of 38 for the victory in his first NHL shot. He was impressive. His quickness and athleticism are striking, and he showed a competitiveness and unwillingness to give up on plays that is also the hallmark of great netminders.
3:55 TB Palat (23), (Killorn)(PP)
13:46 CBJ Jenner (16), (Johnson, Johansen)(PP)
14:54 TB Brewer (3), (Paquette)
18:06 TB Brewer (4), (Kostka, Panik)
16:37 CBJ Savard (5), (Jenner, Comeau)
Gudlevskis, Eric Brewer, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars. It wasn't the best effort the Lightning have put forward, but Gudlevskis played well and the team capitalized on some shaky netminding by Columbus' McElhinney at the other end of the rink. It wasn't without a price, as Victor Hedman left the game early with a lower body injury and Ondrej Palat left after getting his bell rung on an open ice hit, but at this hour their absence seems more precautionary than anything else (although that's always subject to change).
The Lightning now have 99 points with 1 game to go. Win and they get home ice against Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs. Win and they break the 100 point barrier. Win, and they'll cap off one of the best regular seasons in team history.
Mike Kostka had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 20:35. He was forced into extra ice time with Hedman out of the game early, and he handled it reasonably well, even getting his 3rd point in 2 games since returning. Win if you can, survive if Mike Kostka lets you.
Cedric Paquette had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 12:46. He was also 64% on 14 draws, including several wins while the Lightning were trying to stave off Columbus with their goaltender pulled at the end of the game. Good debut by Dump Truck, and I thought the scorekeepers cheated him out of a few hits because I counted 2-3 more. The young man's got a future on the team's fourth line.
Never say die.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the OT win. The goal support came late, but whenever it comes it's always a beautiful thing.
SYR Paradis, (5) (Namestnikov, Mormina), 7:16
UTI O'Reilly, (4) , 12:26 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (5) (Korobov, DiSalvatore), 16:44 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (5) (Lain), 11:39
UTI Friesen, (6) (Biega, Welsh), 18:27 (PP)
UTI Kennedy, (1) (O'Reilly), 9:44
UTI Welsh, (5) (Friesen, Sauve), 10:49
SYR Namestnikov, (18) (Paradis, Paquette), 18:21
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Connolly, Gourde), 18:52 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Paquette, Angelidis), 19:07 (SH)
SYR Connolly, (19) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 2:36
You could watch 76 AHL games a year for the rest of your life and not see what happened tonight again. In pro hockey, having a 3 goal deficit at anytime in the Third Period should be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes left in the Third Period should absolutely be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes and having a man in the box for most of that time really, really should be a death sentence. The Syracuse Crunch scored 3 straight extra attacker goals late in the Third Period tonight to force Overtime. Two of those goals were technically shorthanded. Coach Gordon Bombay just called from Hollywood and even he thinks the plot tonight was implausible and ludicrous. That is not supposed to happen. Ever. There must not be a rock big or heavy enough for Utica to crawl under right now, because Syracuse bent the laws of time and space to find a way to win that game tonight. Wow.
With the win, Syracuse moves to 1 game under .500 with 6 left to play. After winning tonight the way they did, who in their right mind would bet against them to get on the right side of .500 before the year's complete?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
20 goals and counting for the Dump Truck.
Kristers Gudlevskis had a light workload, stopping 16 of 17 for the victory to get back on track.
ALB Pesonen, (13) (Urbom, Wedgewood), 11:30 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (20) (Erne, Gourde), 17:58
SYR Rankin, (14) (Sergeev), 8:21
Evan Rankin, Cedric Paquette, and Dmitry Korobov were the game's three stars. Tonight's goal puts Dump Truck at 20 in his rookie campaign. To put that accomplishment in perspective, here's three recent Lightning prospects who didn't make it to 20 goals as a rookie at the AHL level: Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, and J.T. Brown. So, ponder that for a moment, and be impressed at what Paquette has accomplished in his first year of professional hockey.
Syracuse climbs back to 2 games under .500 for the season. I still contend a solid goal for the Crunch should be to get over .500 for the year, which will set the tone for a solid season next year.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Points streak goes up in flames in Rochester.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before giving way to Cedrick Desjardins, who allowed 1 on 11 shots the rest of the way. In Gudlevskis' defense, Syracuse's defense was not sharp tonight.
RCH Irwin, (4) (Varone, Petrecki), 2:48
RCH Catenacci, (8) (Porter, Armia), 15:43
RCH Irwin, (5) , 17:02
RCH Catenacci, (9) (Armia, Makarov), 3:17
SYR Paquette, (19) (Nesterov, Connolly), 19:53 (PP)
RCH Roy, (7) (Grigorenko, Sundher), 3:32
SYR Korobov, (3) (Paradis), 16:36
Fortunately, Syracuse is about to enter ATO season with Joel Vermin and Adam Erne already in the fold (although they have yet to make their debuts) and Henri Ikonen likely on the way. Vermin and Ikonen, in particular, will be counted on to help turn things around for the Crunch next season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.