Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Game Night: 11-24-17 Lightning at Capitals

Burn the tape.

TB-1
WSH-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 37 shots for the victory. The players in front of him did a bang up job of wasting an amazing effort that held them in the game and gave them a chance to steal at least a point tonight.

First Period
1:22 TB Namestnikov (10), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
18:38 WSH Ovechkin (15), (Wilson, Backstrom)

Second Period
14:36 WSH Smith-Pelly (3), (Beagle, Orlov)

Third Period
17:52 WSH Beagle (3), (Niskanen)(EN)

Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.

That was 40 minutes of getting outpossessed and outplayed by Washington followed by 20 minutes of frustration as they came close to paying off Vasiy's heroics, but just couldn't find the equalizer. There's plenty of blame to go around tonight, but honestly I'll say this might've been Victor Hedman's worst game in years. His Norris Trophy campaign committee will want to hunt down all copies of tonight's tilt and have them burned.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit in 6:52. Blink and you'd miss him.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 17:20.

Mikhail Sergachev had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:41.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-18-17 Islanders at Lightning

Lightning rally gives false hope after flat start.

NYI-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the rare loss. I think he might want the second goal back, which appeared to go through him, but in fairness to him the defense was pretty rancid tonight.

First Period
0:51 NYI Ladd (4), (Tavares, Ho-Sang)
10:25 NYI Lee (10), (Tavares, Bailey)

Second Period
7:09 NYI Nelson (6), (Chimera, Pelech)

Third Period
1:05 NYI Lee (11), (Bailey, Barzal)(PP)
3:13 TB Gourde (5), (Point, Koekkoek)
3:26 TB Palat (5), (Point, Vasilevskiy)
16:24 TB Gourde (6), (Palat, Girardi)
19:38 NYI Tavares (14), (Cizikas, Bailey)(EN)

Yanni Gourde was the game's second star.

The Lightning were flat and looked unprepared for the game and the Islanders jumped on them and got the goal on the opening shift. The Lightning responded by opening up too much to try to get goals and ended up surrendering too many odd man rushes and found themselves behind the eight ball. They eventually got down 3 goals after 40 minutes, and as I've said many a time, it feels like 99 times out of 100 that's a death sentence for the team trailing in pro hockey. You may get within one, but you eventually lose and it happened again tonight.

The Lightning finish the second 10-game segment of the season 8 points ahead of playoff pace. Good news is, ending on a loss, I don't think anyone's got to warn the Lightning to get complacent. Segment three starts tomorrow with a record of 0-0-0. Twelve in ten: do it again.

Slater Koekkoek had a helper and was +2 with 1 hit in 9:01.

Gourde had a pair of goals and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:23.

Jake Dotchin was -3 with 2 shots in 12:18. Not going to sugar coat it: he stunk tonight. Getting beat like a dog out of the corner by Nelson on the third goal ultimately was the kill shot goal for the Islanders. He didn't cloak himself in glory with his play in this one.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:37. Had a lot of scoring chances in this game and was dynamic offensively.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-9-17 Lightning at Kings

Lightning opens gates of hell in the First Period in Los Angeles. No Kings spared.

TB-5
LA-2

Much maligned Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the win. He made a critical save on Koptar early on in the game on a bang bang play that led to Kucherov's breakaway goal. That's making the situational save you need for the W.

First Period
9:27 TB Kucherov (16), (Stamkos, Koekkoek)
10:01 TB Killorn (2), (Girardi, Johnson)
10:35 TB Hedman (2), (Gourde, Palat)
11:29 TB Stamkos (8), (Killorn, Kucherov)(PP)

Second Period
17:31 LA Toffoli (8), (Kopitar, Muzzin)

Third Period
8:39 LA Fantenberg (1), (Brown, Laich)
12:59 TB Namestnikov (8), (Hedman, Kucherov)

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

Petr Budaj makes a big situational save, Kucherov scores on a breakaway at the other end, and the Lightning just erupt all over the Kings in a game that was over after less than a dozen minutes. The first 37 or so minutes tonight were just one long replay of the Second Period dominance the Lightning displayed against San Jose last night. Honestly, were it not for Quick, the Kings would've easily let up 8 or 9 goals tonight as the Lightning had something like 23 scoring chances through the first two periods. Quick almost gave the Kings a chance, but a well played replay challenge by Cooper and the Gang at the end of the Second Period helped the team maintain a 3 goal advantage through 40 minutes and it was off to garbage time for the second night in a row. And, to all a good night.

Things that'll make your mind explode: Namestnikov's on a pace for about 39 goals. Not a typo.

Tonight's victory means the Lightning are within an eyelash of clinching their second successful 10-game segment of the year. After collecting a stylish 17 points in 10 games to start the year, they have 11 points in this second segment with 3 more games to play. So, with 1 more point they'll have nabbed the 12 in 10, and anything after that is just more insurance points in the bank. It's a beautiful thing.

Slater Koekkoek had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 6:22.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and he was 60% on 5 draws. As always, the Stamkos line provides the bulk of the firepower, but the Palat/Point/Gourde line sets the pace for the Lightning.

Gabriel Dumont had 3 shots and 2 hits and was 63% on 8 draws in 9:56 as he jumped in to replace an injured Ryan Callahan in the lineup.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 16:45.

Mikhail Sergachev had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:01.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-8-17 Lightning at Sharks

Lightning speed slays Sharks.

TB-5
SJ-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 33 shots for the victory. He conceded an unlucky goal on the first shift of the game on a puck that deflected off Callahan's stick. After that, he made two or three ridiculous saves in the First Period to allow the team to find their equilibrium, after which the rest of his night was thankfully light work.

First Period
0:25 SJ Donskoi (5), (Thornton, Pavelski)
7:17 TB Dotchin (1), (Point, Gourde)

Second Period
0:44 TB Kucherov (15), (Namestnikov, Stamkos)
9:21 TB Koekkoek (3), (Gourde, Stralman)
12:00 TB Namestnikov (6), (Stamkos, Kucherov)

Third Period
6:14 TB Namestnikov (7), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Vasilevskiy were the game's three stars.

San Jose had no answer for the quickness of the Tampa Bay Lightning. None. The Lightning not only can outskate San Jose man for man, but they moved the puck so quickly and crisply, especially in the Second Period, the Sharks had no prayer. No prayer. The Lightning won pretty much every 50/50 puck and then just carved up the slower Sharks defense. Cooper will have some coachable things if he wants them because the Lightning had some bad habits creep in during garbage time in the Third Period, but other than that this was a clinic, on balance.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 9:14. His goal was a short side softie allowed by Martin Jones, who looked awful tonight en route to being lifted after two periods.

Yanni Gourde had 2 helpers and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 4 blocked shots in 17:46. He was also 17% on 6 draws. The Stamkos and Kucherov line get all the plaudits, but I thought the line with Gourde and Point along with Palat were almost as good tonight and were crucial to helping the Lightning get their footing back after falling behind after the first shift tonight.

Jake Dotchin had his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 14:01. He got it the way you'd want it: blew a slapshot through the goaltender for his first in the bigs.

Mikhail Sergachev was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 15:26.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-28-17 Ducks at Lightning

Reality check.

ANH-4
TB-1

Peter Budaj allowed 4 goals on 21 shots for the loss. It's a different team when Vasiy's in net. It just needs to be said and understood.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
10:13 ANH Rakell (4), (Montour, Getzlaf)(PP)
16:55 ANH Montour (4), (Getzlaf)(PP)
17:52 TB Kunitz (2), (Brown, Callahan)
19:59 ANH Lindholm (1), (Wagner, Rasmussen)

Third Period
8:59 ANH Rakell (5), (Getzlaf, Perry)

Part of tonight is just a reality check/correction. Part of tonight is not minding details like allowing a critical goal very late in a period. Part of tonight is a team being allowed by the refs to slow the Lightning down with a lot of clutching and grabbing. Either way, it's a quick wake up call for the Lightning, who now have eight games to try to collect another ten points in this ten game segment of the year.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot in 6:36.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:39. Gourde was also 60% on 5 draws. His line was the best Lightning line on the night, particularly Brayden Point, and had the refs called the game a little tighter they surely would've generated a handful of power plays.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 1 shot and 3 blocked shots in 16:43.

Mikhail Sergachev was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:16.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-21-17 Penguins at Lightning

This feels different.

PIT-1
TB-7

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He's been lights out all season, but lately he's been putting together the stats to match. Really want to terrify an opposing NHL GM? Remind them Vasiy's only 23 years old. You're welcome.

First Period
1:36 TB Kucherov (9), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)
14:16 TB Stamkos (3), (Namestnikov, Kucherov)(PP)
19:59 TB Gourde (1), (Coburn, Point)

Second Period
0:30 TB Point (4), (Palat, Gourde)
5:58 TB Stralman (1), (Sergachev)
7:12 TB Kucherov (10), (Stamkos, Killorn)

Third Period
10:32 TB Sergachev (3), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)(PP)
18:18 PIT Guentzel (3), (Rust, Letang)(PP)

Steven Stamkos, Vasilevskiy, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

I wasn't able to watch the game, so rather than comment on the particulars of this game I want to frame the performance of these first nine games of the campaign and offer some overall perspective.

The Tampa Bay Lightning missed the playoffs by one point last season partly because of injuries, partly because of a bizarre goaltending situation, but probably most of all because the team just didn't seem to have the maturity to approach every game with the necessary urgency. After several years of success, the club seemed to think its bona fides alone were necessary to win hockey games, often discarding good habits and taking shortcuts on the way to being dead last in the Eastern Conference in February before a late season charge nearly punched their postseason ticket. Fresh off that disappointment the Lightning rebuilt their leadership council this season with Stamkos and Ryan Callahan returning from injury and Dan Girardi and Chris Kunitz added into the mix in free agency. Still, through the first two games against the Florida Panthers, this team didn't look like it had learned its lesson as it headed into a games against league royalty like Washington and Pittsburgh that looked like colossal landmines on the schedule.

Seven games later the Lightning are 7-1-1-0. This feels different.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you tonight's drubbing of the defending Stanley Cup champions alone means the Lightning are ready to hoist the hardware themselves. Certainly, an objective observer will point out Antti Niemi hasn't exactly cloaked himself in glory in either of his encounters with the Lightning this year. But, with wins against a bevy of other quality opponents and a team that seems to have found a steely eyed determination and cold blooded professional, it's hard not to consider the Lightning as one of the early season contenders from the East. The only times I've seen this from the Lightning were the second half of the '03-'04 season when that team followed their leadership council of Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor all the way to a Stanley Cup, and the 2011 playoff run where Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis applied what they had learned from that run and came within an eyelash of winning it all before going down in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals to Boston. The current Lightning core never quite seemed to have the maturity and experience to fully grasp the level of intensity it takes to really and truly be great in all three zones day in and day out. Close, at times? Sure. But, it took the embarrassment of last season and the realization they've probably reached about the midpoint of their Stanley Cup window to get to this point. Now, they look like a team willing (and fully able) to do what it takes. This feels different, and I like it.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit in 11:15.

Yanni Gourde had 1 goal, 1 assist, and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes and 4 shots. He was also 33% on 9 draws. It was just a matter of time. If he's putting up 4 shots a night, he's a 20 goal scorer this year, I think.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 2 hits in 12:18. He was also 38% on 13 draws.

Jake Dotchin was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 12:52.

Mikhail Sergachev had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 16:56. Now we're getting close to the workload I think he needs to get to for the Lightning to really hit the higher end of some of its season's goals. When you're in a game that has nearly 40 minutes of garbage time, clearly there's no better time to let a young horse like Sergachev get plenty of reps. He did well with them, I see.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-16-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning ride Vasilevskiy to glory.

TB-3
DET-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the victory. The team was flat as a pancake the first 6-7 minutes of the game and Vasilevskiy absolutely held them in the game and made several timely saves over the course of the game to allow them to get the 2 points. The big gunners will get the attention, but Vasilevskiy's been the truth so far this year.

First Period
9:15 TB Johnson (3), (unassisted)(SH)
10:56 TB Kucherov (6), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)

Second Period
2:30 DET Abdelkader (2), (unassisted)(PS)
16:02 DET Green (1), (Abdelkader, Tatar)

Third Period
1:47 TB Kucherov (7), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)

Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and third stars. Vasilevskiy was robbed.

The Lightning flat out didn't play to their standard tonight. The team came out flat and their breakouts looked patently terrible. It wasn't to the level of the debacle in Sunrise, but the sloppiness passing the puck and the weakness and indecision was palpable and concerning. Thankfully, they were able to engineer a road win with goaltending and special teams. I'm happy they were able to get the 2 points and I fully understand you have to win some games like this over the course of 82 games because you're not going to have your A game every night, but Cooper needs to make it clear that slipping by playing like that isn't acceptable. They've showed us they're better than this.

With 4 games to go in this 10-game segment of the campaign, the Lightning need just 2 points for minimum playoff pace. As noted after the last game, this is a prime opportunity for the Lightning to build up a huge cushion right from the jump this season, and after missing the postseason last year it's a chance the club should leap at.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 7:01. His most memorable moment was taking a penalty, so that's not good.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:46. He was also 29% on 7 draws. In some ways this might've been his best game of the year. He looked incredibly strong on the puck in the offensive zone for such a small man.

Jake Dotchin had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:50. I feel like he's getting closer to being the player we saw down the stretch of last year, which is needed.

Mikhail Sergachev had 1 shot in 8:37. Team low in shifts. He'll make a decent play here and there, but can't seem to string two or three of them together right now. I would've hoped he'd have flashed a little bit more at this point, but it's early. The Lightning really need Sergachev or Koekkoek to progress significantly between now and March though if they want to be ready to achieve some of their bigger goals.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-14-17 Blues at Lightning

Lightning kick ice in honor of Inaugural Team Night.

STL-1
TB-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. His lone blemish was a quick release seeing eye shot through a double screen. We'll forgive him.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:20 TB Johnson (2), (Sergachev, Point)(PP)

Third Period
6:27 TB Kucherov (5), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)
16:37 STL Tarasenko (4), (Schwartz, Schenn)

Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and Steven Stamkos were the game's three stars.

Different kind of game against a different kind of team. The shot totals were fairly even but I still felt like the Lightning carried the balance of play throughout this one and deserved the 2 points. Three quality wins in a row put the Lightning at 4-1-0-0 to start the campaign, including an unblemished record on home ice as they try to re-establish Amalie Arena as a fortress for the club. That puts them at 8 points halfway through the opening segment of the season. They just need 4 in the next 5 games to stay on minimum playoff pace, which means they have an opportunity over the next 5 games to potentially build a nice little cushion of points right out of the gate this year.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 8:42.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 17:38. More shots, Yanni.

Jake Dotchin had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 16:26.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper and 2 shots and 3 hits in 10:27. It was a calmer performance tonight and he earned his second NHL point after getting awarded a helper after the fact in the Lightning's opener.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-12-17 Penguins at Lightning

Bow down to your new blueline overlord.

PIT-4
TB-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 40 shots for the victory. It's been like watching a new age Grant Fuhr early in this season. The stats don't part your hair when you read them, but he makes the big saves to help the team get W's.

First Period
6:07 TB Koekkoek (1), (Kunitz, Stralman)
13:46 PIT Guentzel (2), (Letang, Rust)
19:59 TB Hedman (1), (Killorn, Kucherov)(PP)

Second Period
3:59 TB Stamkos (1), (Namestnikov, Killorn)(PP)
8:58 PUT Sheary (3), (Ruhwedel, Niemi)
9:49 TB Kucherov (4), (Coburn, Killorn)
14:24 PIT Rust (1), (Guentzel, Maatta)(PP)
17:55 TB Koekkoek (2), (Killorn, Johnson)

Third Period
10:01 PIT Hunwick (1), (McKegg, Kessel)

Slater Koekkoek, Alex Killorn, and Kikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

It wasn't the same tour de force performance that the Lightning put together against Washington, but the Lightning looked the better team 5 v 5 all night long against Pittsburgh and deserved the result tonight. Had they stayed out of the box consistently, they surely would've made this a lot easier on themselves, and even with some lapses of discipline there were several moments in the game it looked like it was teetering on the edge of the Lightning getting a 3 goal lead and making it a laugher. Against that team, that's impressive. Back-to-back wins against Washington and Pittsburgh are absolutely impressive, and leave little doubt the Lightning are legit early in this campaign.

4 games into the season, the Lightning have 6 points. 6 more points to collect in the next 6 games to make this a successful segment of the season.

Koekkoek had his first 2 NHL goals and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:44. The first goal, which was deflected by the Pens and a bit of puck luck, looked like it took a 200 pound gorilla off of Slater's back. The second goal looked like sheer exuberance as Koekkoek emerged from the box to patiently deposit a 3-on-1 chance on his backhand. Might be time to give him a game or two with a little more IT to see how he handles it.

Yanni Gourde had 3 shots and was 50% on 4 draws in 15:45. I liked that he was shooting the puck more. That will pay dividends in the long run.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 8:59. He was also 33% on 9 draws. Skating's an issue. It just needs to be said.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 blocked shots in 16:45. Little by little, he keeps rounding into form.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 in just 5:22 of ice time. Sheary snuck behind him off the bench to steal a goal, and it seemed like Sergachev didn't see the ice much after that. With Koekkoek playing a nice little game, I wouldn't be shocked in the Lightning gave Mikhail a game off to watch and re-center before throwing him back into the fire.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-9-17 Capitals at Lightning

Out of the ashes, Tampa Bay issues a statement.

WSH-3
TB-4 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory. The stat lines not pretty, but a handful of his saves had to be in order to allow the Lightning to keep contact and get the win.

First Period
16:42 WSH Backstrom (1), (Burakovsky, Oshie)
18:05 WSH Oshie (2), (Carlson, Backstrom)(PP)

Second Period
5:28 TB Killorn (1), (Point, Coburn)
7:49 WSH Oshie (3), (Backstrom, Kuznetsov)(PP)
18:09 TB Kunitz (1), (Stralman, Paquette)

Third Period
10:46 TB Kucherov (3), (Killorn, Stralman)

Overtime
3:08 Point (3), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn were the game's first and second stars.

Every man in that lineup up and down deserved a star. That was Lightning hockey, and it was Lightning hockey at a level I don't think we've seen in a regular season matchup against the Capitals in forever. Coming off an embarrassing performance in Sunrise, the Lightning outskated, outpossessed, and outplayed Washington for the bulk of 63 minutes of hockey, allowing them to overcome some negative puck luck in the First Period to get the job done. And, it wasn't just the top lines or the top pairs. Every man all the way down to the checking line got it done tonight. Cedric Paquette even played like a beast tonight. Kunitz. Callahan. You name it. This team had a different look in their eye coming out of, one would presume, some kind of team meeting this morning, and they wouldn't be denied tonight. This isn't hype, it's truth: if they play with that level of determination, attention to detail, and hustle every night, they're going to leave a lot of opposing teams in their wake as they plow through this season. The back checking pressure of the Lightning forwards in the neutral zone alone tonight... well, Nigel's going to need to smoke a cigarette while he puts this film together. It's that good.

7 games left in segment 1 of the campaign: 8 points left to go.

Slater Koekkoek played 3:09 as the 7th d-man. If you blinked, you missed him.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes in 14:44. I need some more SOG's, Yanni.

Jake Dotchin had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 12:01. He's slowly rounding into form.

Mikhail Sergachev had 2 shots and 1 hit in 12:40. Mixed bag. Egregious turnovers in the First Period. Darned near potted a regulation winner in the Third Period.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Syndicate content