Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Game Night: 3-26-18 Coyotes at Lightning

Upstart Coyotes humiliate Lightning.

AZ-4
TB-1

Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
10:45 AZ Murphy (1), (Martinook, Cousins)
17:22 AZ Chychrun (3), (Panik, Keller)(PP)

Third Period
10:28 AZ Perlini (17), (Strome, Connauton)
14:37 TB Kucherov (38), (Miller, Hedman)(PP)
19:52 AZ Keller (23), (Goligoski)(EN)

The Lightning got outshot 35-20 in their own barn by a young team that had nothing to play for but pride. 35-20? Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. Yeah, I guess Stamkos out day-to-day hurts the continuity, but c'mon. 35-20?

Now the scene turns to a high-stakes battle for control of the division against Boston on Thursday with the Lightning looking extremely mortal over the past couple of weeks. Put up or shut up time is fast approaching.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots and 2 hits in 7:37.

Anthony Cirelli was 47% on 17 draws in 17:53.

Adam Erne had 1 shot in 3:52.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-26-18 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Before the new acquisitions come, Tampa Bay plays a wild one for the fun of it.

TOR-3
TB-4 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 30 shots before stopping all 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stopped a Third Period penalty shot. Stopped an OT breakaway. Was a one man kill on a Second Period 5-on-3 PK. No complaints here.

First Period
1:41 TB Kunitz (11), (Sustr, Stamkos)
8:49 TOR Van Riemsdyk (26), (Hainsey, Rielly)
9:52 TOR Marner (17), (Gardiner, Zaitsev)

Second Period
3:52 TB Johnson (18), (Gourde)
15:18 TB Erne (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
5:27 TOR Bozak (10), (Marner, Rielly)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- NONE
TB- Point

Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne were the game's first and third stars.

Fun game. Wild game. The Lightning entered the game without the services of the departed Vlad Namestnikov with new acquisitions McDonagh and Miller still en route. Toronto was without the services of Austen Matthews, which was quickly balanced by the departure of Nikita Kucherov with an upper body injury. So, the script got thrown out early and this just ended up being a fast, physical, intense hockey game. Lots of goalmouth thrills. Lots of near misses. Some intrigue when Tyler Johnson left the game taking a refs skate to his leg, dropping Tampa Bay to just 9 forwards at one point. Crazy. Ultimately Vasilevskiy was the difference, with an assist to the all-powerful Espo Rule.

Brayden Point is pure filth in the shootout.

By my math, the Lightning need just about 7 points more to punch their ticket for the postseason.

Now we move into the final 19 games of the year with the Lightning coaching staff having the considerable challenge of integrating McDonagh and Miller into the squad. The Lightning came into the trade deadline needing a faceoff man, a right handed D, and some PK help. You could argue they've addressed all three to varying degrees, but it's going to fall on Bowness, in particular, to make some oddly fitting pieces all work. I think, most obviously, the Lightning PK will be way better following these deals and soon they'll get Ondrej Palat too, which will also help. That's the most obvious hole that got filled today. The RHD spot is a little more iffy. The Lightning have a very solid #1 and #2 LHD situation, and I suspect with Hedman as the clear top pair guy, McDonagh can get his time trimmed down from the 23-24 minutes he was playing in New York to more reasonable levels in the regular season that'll keep him fresher and healthier. Problem is, the only RHD they have you can absolutely trust is Stralman. The coaching staff will surely also tell you Girardi, as a well-seasoned vet, is dependable, but I would tell you only on well-managed levels of ice time. So I'll just throw this out there: time to move Sergachev to RHD and have him play his off hand. It's not an odd thing for European players, and particularly Russians, to do. It makes for better passing and shooting angles for an offensive-minded d-man. I think it's worth an experiment. Whatever the Lightning choose to do, with Hedman and McDonagh in the fold they now can be assured of having a #1 caliber d-man on the rink 45-50 minutes out of every 60 minute game. That doesn't stink. Last, faceoffs. Welp, here's where the fix is probably the shakiest. Miller is 54% on draws this year, which is nice, but he's just 49% for his career. It might be an addition by subtraction situation, though, because Namestnikov might well have been the worst faceoff man the Lightning had.

The loss of Howden and Hajek in the deal isn't insignificant, but it's also not a death knell for the Lightning prospect system. They have excellent centermen like Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli performing well in Syracuse and with Dominik Masin quietly having a whale of a season for the Crunch, the situation at LHD still looks good, too.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 shots in 7:49.

Erne had a goal and was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:57. He played a heck of a game on a strong forechecking line with Gourde and Johnson. Very strong on the puck and on the cycle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-22-18 Lightning at Senators

We can neither confirm nor deny the Lightning abducted Erik Karlsson after the game.

TB-4
OTT-3

Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. Should've been 2 on 36, but a charity decision by Toronto reversed a goaltender interference call that originally waved off the first goal allowed in the Third Period.

First Period
9:31 TB Johnson (17), (Kunitz, Gourde)
14:54 OTT Dzingel (16), (Stone, Brassard)
16:26 TB Hedman (9), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)

Second Period
3:37 TB Namestnikov (20), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
19:59 TB Point (24), (Gourde, Killorn)

Third Period
8:11 OTT Borowiecke (Ryan, Ceci)
17:44 OTT Brassard (18), (Stone, Karlsson)(PP)

Vladislav Namestnikov and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars.

Kind of a common game for the pre-deadline dog days of this season for the Lightning: built a 3 goal lead through 40 minutes and then sleepwalk through a lackluster garbage time before eventually snagging the two points. The Lightning keep doing just what they need to do in very workmanlike fashion. Very few of these games look like Picassos, but I'm not expecting any more masterpieces until maybe midway through March when the roster will be different and the team is tuning up for the postseason.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 7:49.

Adam Erne is -1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:44.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-13-18 Lightning at Sabres

Time for a little soul searching.

TB-3
BUF-5

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the loss.

First Period
6:25 BUF Baptiste (2), (Girgensons)
13:23 TB Gourde (22), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
1:16 BUF Reinhart (12), (O'Reilly, Rodrigues)(PP)
13:19 TB Namestnikov (19), (unassisted)
15:47 BUF Wilson (4), (Nelson, Antipin)

Third Period
3:41 BUF O'Reilly (18), (Okposo, Ristolainen)(PP)
11:36 TB Callahan (3), (Sergachev, Point)
19:52 BUF Reinhart (13), (O'Reilly)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

As a general rule, it's never as good or as bad as it seems... but losing to an Eichel-less Buffalo Sabres team that simply seemed to want the 2 points more than the Lightning sure does seem pretty bad. The frustrating thing is that the same mistakes keep going uncorrected. The faceoff circles remain a dumpster fire. The penalty kill remains ineffective. Etc. Etc.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in a paltry 6:26.

Matthew Peca was -1 with 1 shot in 11:58. He was also 62% on 13 draws, which was a rare bright spot in that department in this game.

Adam Erne was -2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:37. Thought he was pretty dangerous and active in this game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-5-18 Lightning at Oilers

Long road stretch ends with a thud.

TB-2
EDM-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss before giving way to Louis Domingue who allowed 2 on 9 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
1:48 EDM McDavid (18), (Strome, Klefbom)(PP)
9:42 TB Killorn (8), (Gourde)
17:24 EDM Draisaitl (13), (Strome, McDavid)(PP)

Second Period
2:33 EDM McDavid (19), (Draisaitl, Benning)
12:59 EDM Pakarinen (1), (Slepyshev, Letestu)

Third Period
1:54 TB Gourde (19), (Johnson)(PP)
6:55 EDM McDavid (20), (unassisted)
13:49 EDM McDavid (21), (Draisaitl, Cammalleri)

If you want to look at this glass half full, you might be able to explain this one away as a bit of a schedule loss. The Lightning were concluding an 8 game road trip and a stretch of 13 out of 16 on the road against a team that poses some unique athletic problems with their speed. That's especially true with young Mr. McDavid with the pace he brings to the game. With all that said, it's inescapable that the Lightning really have been pretty inconsistent over the past month or so and they've had bad habits creep into their game. When you're on the road so much sometimes practice time is scarce and the grind of constant travel leads to lack of focus. The good news is typically the Lightning get a more home-heavy schedule down the stretch of the year, traditionally, and that will allow them to get their game better tuned up for the ride into the postseason. That's good, because their game right now isn't good enough. Too many shots given up, too many chances, and too many odd man rushes surrendered. Improvement is needed for sure.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 13:19.

Matthew Peca was -1 with 3 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:03. He was also 62% on 21 draws. He's been above water on faceoffs, by my count, in all but one of his games in this callup thus far. Hence the ice time keeps increasing, because they need him out there.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-3-18 Lightning at Canucks

Lightning claim two road points in workmanlike fashion.

TB-4
VAN-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 33 shots for the victory. He was his usual outstanding self tonight, putting up the forcefield to allow the Lightning to craft a 3 goal lead through 40 minutes that they ultimately nursed to the finish line.

First Period
1:26 TB Kunitz (8), (Stralman, Kucherov)
5:52 TB Hedman (7), (Stamkos, Kucherov)

Second Period
15:47 TB Gourde (18), (Sergachev, Peca)

Third Period
10:00 VAN Vanek (15), (Stecher, Boeser)
14:30 VAN Boeser (25), (Sutter)
16:26 TB Conacher, (unassisted)(PP)(PS)

Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy were the game's second and third stars.

The Lightning did exactly what you want to do in a road game against an inferior opponent: they jumped on them early to get out to the 2-0 lead, built it to 3-0 after 40 minutes with some opportunism and some good goaltending. And, once you've got a 3 goal lead through 40 minutes, that's typically a knockout. As proven again in this game, teams may pull to within a goal in that scenario (the so-called "false hope goal") but they rarely get closer.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot on goal in 12:51.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 15:10. With tonight's appearance, his 41st of the season, Dotchin has graduated from prospect status on the website.

Matthew Peca had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:53 of big ice time. He was also 65% on 20 draws, too.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-1-18 Lightning at Flames

Lightning bury Flames beneath an avalanche of soft goals.

TB-7
CGY-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 46 shots for the victory. He wasn't his sharpest through 40 minutes, although I can't call any of the goals he allowed overly soft. He did seem to get the rust off in the Third Period.

First Period
7:16 CGY Ferland (20), (Backlund, Hamilton)(PP)
13:34 TB Coburn (1), (Sustr, Peca)

Second Period
2:04 TB Killorn (6), (Gourde, Point)(PP)
3:38 CGY Backlund (10), (Tkachuk, Brodie)
5:25 CGY Monahan (23), (Gaudreau, Hamilton)
14:27 CGY Stajan (2), (Hathaway, Brodie)
14:49 TB Peca (2), (Killorn, Stralman)

Third Period
0:12 TB Killorn (7), (Gourde)
5:16 TB Conacher (4), (Peca, Killorn)
6:22 TB Stamkos (19), (Kunitz)
8:26 TB Conacher (5), (Callahan)

Alex Killorn, Matthew Peca, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars.

I'm going to venture a guess that Jon Cooper will be happy with the result, but he won't like how wide open and wild this game ultimately was. In the end, the Lightning's victory was built on a soft goal surrendered off the rush to Peca at the end of the Second Period that gave them much better position for the comeback going into the final frame and then two absolutely putrid softies from horrible angles to Cory Conacher that ended up being the game winning goal and the last bit of dirt on the Flames' collective graves in this contest. Two summers ago the Flames weren't willing to pay the price Steve Yzerman was commanding for Ben Bishop. Not sure that decision aged well tonight.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:03.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:47.

Matthew Peca had 1 goal, 2 assists and was a gaudy +4 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:29. He was also 43% on 23 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-25-18 Lightning at Flyers

The Lightning's big dogs come to eat in Philly.

TB-5
PHI-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. It stinks it's All-Star Break time and he has to perform in that 3-on-3 exhibition, because he's in the zone right now and streaking all of a sudden.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:25 TB Point (20), (Johnson)
9:56 TB Gourde (17), (Peca, Girardi)
17:29 TB Callahan (2), (unassisted)(SH)

Third Period
13:18 PHI Konecny (10), (Voracek, Giroux)(PP)
14:05 TB Namestnikov (17), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
17:11 TB Namestnikov (18), (Stamkos, Kucherov)

Vasilevskiy, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars.

After figuring out how to win without Victor Hedman over the past couple of games the Lightning returned to kind of a tried and true formula tonight to get the big road win. Like many times this season, the team absorbed the home sides best punch in the First Period thanks to stellar goaltending by Vasilevskiy. Vasiy holds them in the game, then the skill forwards torment the opposition the remainder of the tilt. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Fun fact: thanks to the 3 game winning streak the Lightning have a chance to clinch a successful 10-game segment of the season with a win in their next game. They have 10 points through the first 9 games of this segment.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:12.

Jake Dotchin was a hefty +4 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:31.

Matthew Peca had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 12:28. He was good on the forecheck and dangerous a good swath of the night teaming up with Gourde before Yanni earned a promotion to the second line in the Third Period with Cooper reuniting the top group of Namestnikov, Stamkos, and Kucherov. The biggest stat of the night though was Peca going 87% on 15 draws against the best faceoff team in the league. They won't be able to send him down if he keeps that up.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-23-18 Lightning at Predators

Everything is good, all of a sudden.

TB-4
NSH-3 (OT)

Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals* on 33 shots for the OT victory. Why the asterisk? Because he got hosed on an uncalled goaltender interference where a Preds forward launched himself into Domingue's shoulder as Subban's shot arrived, turning him around in the net. Despite this injustice, Domingue played well with several ten bell saves in a First Period where the Lightning could've easily allowed 4 or 5 goals were it not for the exploits of the Dominguenator.

First Period
6:24 TB Kunitz (7), (unassisted)
7:28 NSH Ellis (3), (Josi, Sissons)(PP)
9:11 NSH Arvidsson (14), (Aberg, Irwin)
10:48 TB Namestnikov (16), (Stamkos, Kunitz)

Second Period
19:10 NSH Subban (11), (Ekholm, Joahnsen)(PP)*

Third Period
17:48 TB Stamkos (18), (Koekkoek, Kunitz)

Overtime
1:45 TB Gourde (16), (Namestnikov)

Yanni Gourde was the game's first star.

Take away the first 10 minutes of this game, and the Lightning were the better team tonight and they deserved the two points. Even without Hedman, they came into this game against the reigning Western Conference champs and they took two points the hard way, even after the Predators got gifted that bogus lead goal* at the end of the Second Period. After suffering some embarrassing debacles the Lightning have seemingly started to figure out how to compete without their stud number one defenseman and they will be a much stronger team for the experience once he returns.

NFL: "We created this really confusing reception rule that the refs, media, and fans can't possibly comprehend and creates frustration that tarnishes our brand and makes us all look like fools. No one will ever top the ignominy of our rule."

NHL looks at the crease: "Hold my beer."

If the rationale behind allowing that goal really was something to do with the blue paint of the crease, it's a horrible rule and it needs to be rewritten. The goaltender should have the right to come out and challenge the shooter and cut down the angle on a long shot. Domingue established his position and he was leapt into and spun around before the puck arrived. Textbook goaltender interference (heck, probably should've been a 2 minute minor, to boot) and it's unfathomable how that goal was allowed to stand. If that's a goal then it's open season on goaltenders because nothing is interference. Just go hog wild and Darcy Tucker-style start running netminders to your heart's content.

Thankfully, the Lightning overcame.

Slater Koekkoek was +2 with a helper, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in a hefty 18:34 of ice time. It was a quiet 18:34, which is good, right up until Koekkoek swooped into the zone as the late man and made a heck of a long diagonal pass to Stamkos for the big one timer to equalize late in the Third Period. That's what everyone has to be hoping from with Koekkoek: the total package for all 200 feet.

Jake Dotchin had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 17:03.

Matthew Peca had 2 hits and was 50% on 10 draws in 13:03.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-20-18 Lightning at Wild

Everything is bad, all of a sudden.

TB-2
MIN-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots on the loss. He might like the third Minnesota goal that wedged in short side back... but then again he might like the defense in front of him to show up, too.

First Period
10:07 MIN Spurgeon (6), (Staal)(PP)
17:24 MIN Parise (1), (Suter, Staal)

Second Period
7:11 MIN Prosser (2), (Eriksson Ek, Rau)
15:35 TB Point (18), (Sergachev, Johnson)

Third Period
3:10 MIN Foligno (4), (Cullen, Ennis)
6:37 TB Point (19), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
19:01 MIN Zucker (18), (Dubnyk)(EN)

This suddenly is taking on the feel of last season. Yes, Victor Hedman's injury has blown an undeniably large hole in the Lightning blueline, but that doesn't fully explain the recent futility. The same lack of intensity and attention to detail that marred the first 50 or so games of last season has crept back into Tampa Bay's game and their revamped leadership council has yet to be successful in pulling the club out of the funk. First goal: clean faceoff loss by Johnson. Back of the net. Second goal: blind, weak clear up the middle on a broken play by Koekkoek. Third goal: complete defensive zone coverage bust and the resulting shot gets in short side on Vasilevskiy. Fourth goal: Sergachev coasts behind his net on a 50/50 puck and is a bystander while Point whiffs trying to cut off the pass to yet another open Wild shooter in the slot. It's pathetic, and it's a virus that's effecting several different players, not just a handful of offenders. The defense isn't very good right now and Mikhail Sergachev is playing his worst hockey of the season at the moment. True. But, you know what? Vasilevskiy's not cloaking himself in glory either and, even more damning, the backchecking and defensive zone coverage by the forwards is completely and utterly unacceptable at the moment. Can't find the scoresheet and get the glory if you don't have the puck, boys. And you'll never have the puck if you don't work, and work smart, to get it back. This isn't difficult, conceptually.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 10:00 of ice time. Pretty much got his ice time cut off after the First Period turnover under duress.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 16:23. He might've been in the upper half of the Lightning d-men tonight in quality, but that was an awfully low bar to clear. You could roller skate over it.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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