Dammit, they're making me love them again.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory.
06:38 TB Palat (2), (Tyrell, Salo)
13:55 PHI Talbot (4), (Meszaros)
17:03 TB Pyatt (6), (Johnson, Hedman)
15:21 PHI Giroux (9), (unassisted)
09:25 TB Purcell (6), (Aulie, Stamkos)
19:57 TB Stamkos (21), (Killorn, St. Louis)(EN)
Ryan Malone and Anders Lindback were the game's first and second stars.
I know they're probably going to just break my heart, but this team is suddenly fun to watch again. The speed and enthusiasm all the young players are bringing to the table has become infectious. And, more to the point, the way the team played in the second half of this game sure did give the impression this team may have finally figured out how to win a close game. There was one forechecking shift by the Thompson/Crombeen line in the Third Period that was as fine a shift as any by the Dingman/Cibak/Afanasenkov line circa 2004.
Alex Killorn had a helper and a shot in 16:16.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +2 with 2 hits in 12:12. He was also 100% on draws again.
Ondrej Palat had the game opening goal and was +1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 10:24.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and a big 7 hits in 14:51.
Cory Conacher was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 11:09. He almost had a very cool assist late in the game that was called back for playing a puck above his shoulders. Really close play.
Jon Cooper? Still Jedi.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory.
SYR Connolly, (25) (Namestnikov, Devos), 6:08
SYR Cote, (2) (Angelidis, Nightingale), 6:38
SYR Panik, (22) (Connolly, Sexton), 10:38 (PP)
SYR Brown, (9) (Angelidis, Mikkelson), 7:22
SYR Devos, (4) (Connolly, Namestnikov), 9:11
SYR Connolly, (26) (Barberio, Oberg), 9:57 (PP)
ALB Kelly, (2) (Wohlberg), 8:00
ALB Whitney, (22) (Zalewski, Anderson), 12:38
With Tyler Johnson up in Tampa, Connolly becomes the Crunch's hope for hardware and plaudits. He currently sits in 3rd in the league in scoring, 4 points back of Grand Rapids' Gustav Nyquist. His 26 goals are also now tied for 5th is the AHL.
Vladdy Namestnikov continuing to play well continues to bode very well for the future.
As good a coaching job as Jon Cooper did last season, if he wins the Eastern Conference and even manages to post the best record in the AHL this season, it'll be an even more amazing job. It's hard to believe that with half of his team's core torturing the Carolina Hurricanes in Tampa, Cooper's team still managed to fly out to a 6-0 lead in Albany. He's a special coach. I can't say anything more and still do it justice.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And the kids shall lead them...
Mathieu Garon allowed 1 goal on 22 shots for the win in his return from injury.
10:54 TB Johnson (1), (Killorn, Conacher)
06:35 TB Palat (1), (Salo, Johnson)
12:55 TB Thompson (6), (Crombeen, Carle)
03:54 TB Purcell (5), (St. Louis, Hedman)
06:21 CAR E. Staal (13), (Semin)
Lightning fans got a nice little taste of the future tonight. These are quality players the Lightning have brought up from Syracuse, and they have the ability to join with some of the young talent the team already had to be a very competitive and exciting team moving forward. The rest of this year is an opportunity for those players to learn on the job together and lay a foundation for success next season.
Alex Killorn had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 16:33.
Johnson had 1 goal and 1 asisst and was +2 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 8:56. He was also 100% on draws. It was a magical night for the young man, getting his first NHL goal.
Ondrej Palat also got his 1st NHL goal and was +1 with 3 shots in 9:16.
Radko Gudas had 2 shots, 6 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 20:03. He's exploded on the scene like a supernova.
Cory Conacher had a helper and was +1 with 2 hits in 12:30.
Two years and one week ago, Tyler Johnson’s mind was on two WHL scoring titles and helping his hometown Spokane Chiefs increase its win totals.
The undrafted, undersized sniper had no clear track for his hockey career when the Tampa Bay Lightning came calling and signed the free agent to a three-year entry-level contract.
His race to the NHL was now set, but how quickly he’d break through the ribbon was up to him.
He immediately rewarded the Lightning by finishing tops in the WHL in goals with 53 in 2011, and was just one point shy of being its top scorer with 115 points in 71 games.
The following year – his first year pro – Johnson made Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman look like a genius when the Washington state native scored 31 goals and 68 points and was an integral part of a championship Norfolk Admirals team that went down as one of the best in AHL history.
Tyler Johnson tried to not think about it.
One step away from achieving his dream, the Syracuse Crunch forward, seeing teammate after teammate getting called up to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, kept a positive attitude.
“Everyone’s dream is to play in the NHL, so you’re always thinking about it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “At the same time, you can’t really worry about it. You have worry about playing here, and getting better. That’s what this league is about – getting better.”
Twenty-six of the 46 players participating in the AHL All-Star Game Jan. 28 have since made their NHL debuts, including the Crunch’s Richard Panik and Radko Gudas. Although Johnson was given a look during the abbreviated training camp after the end of the lockout, Johnson didn’t stick and still hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game.