Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Game Night: 12-20-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Lightning dominate Wings even as injuries continue to mount.

DET-1
TB-4

Ben Bishop stopped all 4 shots he faced before leaving in the First Period with an apparent groin or other kind of soft tissue injury. I'm not a doctor, but I'll play one on the internet: the eye test indicates that's likely a week-to-week injury rather than a day-to-day injury, but we'll see and hold out hope. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal (with under 11 seconds left to go) on 23 shots for the rare back door win. Hmmmmm.

First Period
7:02 TB Boyle (7), (Stralman, Drouin)

Second Period
7:41 TB Drouin (8), (Killorn, Johnson)(PP)
17:04 TB Point (3), (Johnson, Hedman)
19:27 TB Namestnikov (4), (Killorn, Point)

Third Period
19:49 DET Mantha (5), (Jensen, Zetterberg)

Jonathan Drouin, Brayden Point, and Brian Boyle were the game's three stars. Drouin and Point were very dangerous all game and Drouin is starting to be the star his skill set always said he was going to be. If he ever figures out the nuances of situational hockey on top of this, he's going to be a Hall of Famer.

Point had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 2 shots in 19:32. He could've had a second goal easily on a shot where he hit the goalpost flush.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit in 11:23.

Tanner Richard had 1 shot, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot and was 27% on 11 draws in 12:23 in his NHL debut. He wasn't glaringly good or bad, which is neither particularly good or bad for a first game. He'll need to get used to going against the best faceoff men in the world at this level and I think the speed of the skaters up top will be a challenge for him to adjust to.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-17-16 Lightning at Oilers

Lightning close out a .500 road trip.

TB-2
EDM-3 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before allowing 2 of 3 to convert in the Shootout for the penalty shot session loss. What's the difference between this game and the game against Vancouver? One less bit of bad luck, but more importantly better situational goaltending and no softies. Bishop made sure the Lightning kept contact in the First and Second Periods. It's a shame his PK couldn't help him get it over the finish line in regulation. He played well.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
3:58 EDM Lucic (9), (Draisaitl, Sekera)(PP)
18:59 TB Drouin (7), (Hedman, Point)(PP)

Third Period
2:35 TB Johnson (9), (Conacher, Nesterov)
7:03 EDM Draisaitl (14), (Letestu, Sekera)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Drouin
EDM- Letestu, McDavid

Victor Hedman was the game's second star. He played 28:26 tonight on the tail of a back-to-back and was good from the first shift to the last.

Coming into this game, after looking underwhelming against the Canucks and losing Paquette from the lineup, the expectations were low for the night. In pregame, the HNIC crew didn't mince words about Tampa's chances, or lack thereof. The Lightning weathered kind of a tough First Period just continued to get stronger at 5v5 as the game wore on. By the Third Period, despite being the more road weary team, they were fairly dominant in possession and managed to build the 2-1 lead. It's tough that they couldn't close it out in regulation and tough Namestnikov had a chance in OT that came within an eyelash of securing the second point, but there was a lot to like tonight. Under the gun with roster issues and fatigue issues, the Lightning trusted their structure and played well within it. When guys like Palat and Kucherov return, there's reasons for optimism even though there's no moral victories with the standings situation what it is at the moment.

Brayden Point had a helper, 2 PIMs, and 1 shot in 23:33. He was also 30% on 10 draws. Tonight was one of the 2-3 best games he's had all season, faceoffs aside, and his ice time reflected it.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 7:23. He got on the wrong side of a 50/50 play and took the penalty that allowed Edmonton to tie the game at 2-2. Later in the game he made a decent breakout play under duress in a key shift late in the Third Period. Mixed bag.

Joel Vermin had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:42. He crushed Sekera on a hit that was a thing of beauty.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-16-16 Lightning at Canucks

Self-inflicted gunshot wound claims Lightning's collective foot.

TB-2
VAN-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss. One of those goals was an egregious soft goal that, as soft goals often are, became the margin in this game, sans the meaningless empty netter at the end of the contest. After seemingly pulling even with Ben Bishop about a month ago, Vasilevskiy has slid back a little bit as his game has sagged a little behind the Lightning's dubious defensive efforts.

First Period
6:31 TB Hedman (6), (Filppula, Boyle)

Second Period
1:37 VAN Sutter (8), (Granlund, Eriksson)
13:25 VAN Sbisa (1), (Burrows, Baertschi)

Third Period
3:53 TB Conacher (1), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
7:46 VAN Horvat (9), (Eriksson, Granlund)(PP)
19:13 VAN Burrows (6), (Horvat)(EN)

Victor Hedman was, rightfully, the game's second star. He's really elevated his play so far on this road trip.

There are plenty of excuses that could be made for this defeat. Horvat's game winner was a bit of a freak goal on a horribly unlucky bounce that nobody could really be faulted with. The Lightning are also now playing without Stamkos, Kucherov, and Palat. Etc. Etc. Ultimately, though, excuses are irrelevant in the cold calculus of the standings. Against a lower rung team like Vancouver, the Lightning simply have to find ways to manufacture points or they're going to slide so far behind schedule that their playoff hopes cannot recover.

Brayden Point was -3 with 2 shots and 2 hits and he was 50% on 10 draws in 15:36.

Slater Koekkoek was -2 with 1 hit in 14:25. Lost a board battle cleanly to allow Vancouver's first goal.

Joel Vermin had 1 blocked shot in 9:07.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-14-16 Lightning at Flames

Lightning close clunker of a season segment with a critical win.

TB-6
CGY-3

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the victory. That's not a sexy stat line and it wasn't a flawless night from Bishop in terms of positioning and rebound control, but he had 2-3 really crucial situational saves that helped the team earn the win. At this juncture, those are way more important in the grand scheme of things.

First Period
3:06 CGY Brouwer (7), (Monahan, Brodie)(PP)
10:04 TB Boyle (5), (Hedman, Johnson)(PP)
13:42 TB Boyle (6), (Filppula, Hedman)

Second Period
4:40 TB Coburn (1), (Killorn, Namestnikov)
18:47 TB Sustr (1), (Filppula, Hedman)

Third Period
0:37 TB Killorn (9), (unassisted)(SH)
3:59 CGY Brodie (2), (Gaudreau, Brouwer)(PP)
4:20 CGY Ferland (5), (Stajan, Bouma)
19:15 TB Killorn (10), (Filppula)(EN)

Brian Boyle and Victor Hedman were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning desperately needed this game, and even with Nikita Kucherov out of the lineup they handled Calgary in fairly convincing fashion. The penalty kill is still not fully well having allowed 2 more power play markers in this contest, and Bishop wasn't textbook in net, but overall a lot of players started to get well in this game and the team carried the balance of 5 on 5 play by a reasonable margin. In particular, the most hopeful sign to me was a rebound performance by Victor Hedman in all three zones. Assists in triplicate stand out on the scoresheet, but some key situational defensive plays were equally as important. Hedman hasn't been making those plays consistently during this slump and has been handing out some bad turnovers. That was cleaned up in this game and it's no coincidence the team plays a lot better when Victor's playing his A game.

With the third 10-game segment of the season in the books, the Lightning sit at 32 points, which is 4 points off the pace you'd like them to be at for the season (technically, 3 points back of Boston for the closest playoff spot in the actual standings with 1 game in hand). They had just 7 of the preferred 12 points in this last segment after being a point ahead of pace through 20 games. Being 4 points behind isn't great, but it's manageable provided the Lightning start to put together successful 10-game segments from here on out. Last season they went on a long winning streak to cancel out a mid-season deficit, but you can't always count on those kind of tears to get you out of trouble. A more reasonable strategy is to aim at seeing if they can get 13-14 points out of this next 10-game stretch and start to whittle that number down until they get back on pace after another 20-30 games. Bottom line: if they had lost this game it might've been time to get panicky. The win tonight puts them in a position to weather the storm if they keep tightening up their game without too much undue hardship.

Brayden Point was +1 with 1 shot and was a gaudy 78% on 9 draws in 15:40.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 3 shots and 3 blocked shots in 13:38.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 13:52.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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