Kucherov, Nikita

NHL Game Night: 12-17-13 Lightning at Islanders

Take the money and RUN...

NYI-2 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped 2 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the shootout victory. He made a handful of critical saves to keep the Lightning in the same area code, which ultimately made tonight's thievery possible.

First Period

Second Period
0:11 NYI Okposo (11), (Tavares, Nelson)(PP)

Third Period
10:21 NYI Nielsen (11), (Grabner, Bailey)
17:07 TB Filppula (11), (unassisted)
19:56 TB Filppula (12), (Brown, St Louis)


TB- Filppula, Kucherov
NYI- Nielsen

Valterri Filppula was the game's first star.

So, yeah, that happened, and I can't stop laughing. The Lightning turned in one of their sloppiest efforts of the season and looked to be dead sunk with under 3 minutes to play down 2-0. They had been outworked half the game. They had been turning over pucks left and right. People were demanding I crucify people in the game write-up. Tar was being boiled and feathers were being plucked, bagged, and brought to the ready. Then Kyle Okposo, bless him, decided to hand a puck to Val Filppula in a prime scoring area to make the game 2-1 with under 3 minutes left, a ridiculous goalmouth scrum with the extra attacker led to the tying goal with under 4 seconds left, and Filppula and Kucherov finished off two nasty dekes in the shootout to steal the points. STEAL THE POINTS! I expected the Nassau County Sherrif's Department to show up at the Lightning bench after Bishop made the last save on Tavares to put the entire Lightning squad in irons and make the team do the collective perp walk all the way to the paddy wagon. Thievery. On nights like this, whoever on Long Island made that deal with the devil to get those 4 Cups has to be wondering was it really worth it to now have to watch an eternity of... this.

4 games into the 4th 10 game segment of the season, the Lightning somehow managed to get halfway to the minimum segment goal of 12 points. If they can pull out another win Thursday against Nashville, they'll be in really good position to meet (and probably exceed) their target for this stretch with Carolina and Florida coming up after that. Heck, after tonight, how can they lose? I'm still laughing at the result.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:07. Uncredited was a point shot rom Gudas that deflected off the post in the First Period. His hip check on Kyle Okposo, run to the end board with John Tavares, and otherwise snarly game was a page straight out of Dale Carnegie's classic, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," or Radko's own soon-to-be-published masterwork (I know because I'm ghost writing it), "Radko Gudas' Big Book of Making Friends and Influencing People". With Hedman out, Gudas has been matching up against the opposition's best players, and he's been hitting them and harming them on a nightly basis. At this point, I wonder if they might be just as happy to see Hedman possibly coming back Thursday as we are, if only to get a reprieve from the Wrath of Radko (which, coincidentally, is the working title of the film adaptation of "Radko Gudas' Big Book of Making Friends and Influencing People", for which I'm also getting credit as an Executive Producer).

Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:55. You know a guy has had a really good game (and I mean that with the most burning sarcasm possible) when people submit requests for me to light the guy on fire verbally... in the Second Period. He was a turnover machine tonight (he wasn't the only one), and he also got caught at least once on a play that led directly to Ben Bishop having to fend off a breakaway. It continues to puzzle me how Barberio's +/- isn't the exact opposite of what it currently is. Is it clean living? Is he secretly Irish? Who knows, but his d-play is almost as big an eyesore as that dump of an arena the Lightning had to play in tonight.

Tyler Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 2 hits, and he was 44% on draws.

Alex Killorn had 2 shots and 1 hit in 19:12.

Ondrej Palat had 4 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:32.

J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots in 17:37. He got increased IT tonight and was in the middle of the glorious netmouth scrum that led to the tying goal. Points are starting to flow a little.

Matt Taormina was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 12:23. Taormina has one virtue (and only one) on defense: if you come down on him on the rush and try to make a move around him he will hit you and put you on your back (there's your carrot, get ready for the stick). Beyond that, he has next to no redeeming qualities that I can detect in his own third of the ice. He turns the puck over with the same magnanimous generosity as Barberio, which is why I'd expect to see him headed back to Syracuse if Hedman is healthy enough to go on Thursday against Nash-Vegas.

Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 19:32. His move in the shootout, eventually slipping the puck 5-hole on Nabokov, whether you call it a Datsyuk or a Forsberg... filthy. Nasty. Evil. Mean spirited. It's the kind of move that says to a goaltender, "You're bad. You should feel bad. You've been playing the goaltending position your entire life, and the best you could do was still look utterly weak and pathetic and now you're laying prostrate at my feet with the puck behind you and the red light on. And, partly because of that and partly because you look funny and your personality stinks, no one will ever love you." So. Not. Nice.

Andrej Sustr had 3 shots in 15:33. I tell you, if there's one guy who loves Barberio and Taormina, it has to be Sustr. He looks like Larry Robinson in his prime next to those two.

Richard Panik had 3 hits in 10:40. I long for the day he gets a batch of sticks from the manufacturers that doesn't have an awful first touch in every single blade.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-15-13 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning flip the script in Detroit.


Ben Bishop stopped all 28 shots he faced to get the shutout. That there was some more U of Maine Justice!

First Period

Second Period

Third Period
3:13 TB Johnson (8), (St Louis, Palat)
9:16 TB Brown (2), (Thompson)
18:45 TB Killorn (7), (Filppula, Brewer)(EN)

Bishop and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. In many ways, this was a reversal of the game last night in New Jersey. The Lightning were very patient, got their key saves from Bishop, got their greasy goal, and ended up riding the snowball to a 3-0 win. That's good road hockey, to be certain.

Remember when, going into this season, everyone was saying Detroit was going to eat our lunch in this new division? The Lightning improve to 3-0-0 against Detroit so far this year.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:56. Add Johan Franzen to his list of victims. He hit Franzen and knocked him out of the game in the Second Period. Gudas doesn't care what your resume says you are, to him you're just another target. I think he really sets the tone for the rest of the youngsters on this team. He's not intimidated by the league, and they shouldn't be either.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 blocked shots in 9:23. His harrowing moment of the night was when he got stripped by Pavel Datsyuk trying to carry the puck out from behind his net in the Second Period. Like taking candy from a small child.

Johnson had a goal and was +2 with 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and he was 23% on draws. He forced the turnover that led to his goal and had his stick on the ice and was in proper position to be the beneficiary of it. Nice play. You make your own luck.

Alex Killorn had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:33. He was awarded the empty netter when he was hooked on the shot attempt. Even if the call had not been made, Teddy Purcell knocked in the rebound off the end boards. Hopefully that opens the flood gates.

Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 18:46. He made the pass that led to the key goal and had at least one amazing back checking play defensively.

J.T. Brown had the big insurance goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:41. Good things happen when you go to the net. Hopefully that opens the floodgates for J.T., too.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 10:21.

Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 2 shots in 13:39. He set up Panik on a ten bell opportunity in the First Period and had a breakaway in the Third Period. He's a dangerous offensive player, needless to say.

Andrej Sustr had 3 shots and 1 hit in 13:24.

Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:24. That was a pretty good response coming off of the suspension.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-4-13 Lightning at Devils

Typical game against New Jersey.


Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the loss. He absolutely deserved better. The goals he allowed were on a breakaway, a tap in from a horrible turnover behind his net, and a rebound after he denied an immortal, Jagr, 1-on-1. He also made multiple breakaway saves to keep the Lightning in the game before the dam finally gave way in the Third Period. I feel bad for him. The Lightning just refuse to give this young man any goal support. It's frustrating.

First Period

Second Period
15:37 NJ Brunner (7), (Gelinas, Fayne)

Third Period
6:44 NJ Zubrus (6), (Jagr)
9:36 NJ Zubrus (7), (Jagr, Zidlicky)

Tampa Bay outshot the Devils 33-19. It didn't matter. This was a prototypical Devils win and they've been doing this to teams for years. They let Martin Brodeur hold them in games with key saves, wait for you to make a mistake, and then let you press and make more mistakes that they subsequently capitalize on. The Lightning dominated the Devils at 5-on-5, for the most part. It was ultimately irrelevant. If you can't get a lead on these guys, you're in deep trouble. That's the way it's always been. If there's one thing I can say the Lightning need to improve upon, though, it's a ridiculously feckless power play that seemed to nullify any momentum the Lightning built up at even strength. It's really, really bad right now, and the Lightning coaching staff really needs to look at shuffling around their strategy with that unit, because they've been awful for almost the entire time since Stamkos was injured.

Radko Gudas was -1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 25:14. He was unfortunate to be on the pairing that made the mistake that led to Brunner's breakaway goal and the game devolving into a typical Devils game. More concerning, he left the ice late in the Third Period with what appeared to be an upper body injury. Hopefully he's good to go tomorrow and moving forward.

Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot, 2 blocked shots, and he was 31% on draws. It was another somewhat lackluster night for his line.

Alex Killorn was -1 in 19:49. He and his line were legitimately dangerous and he hit a post that would've staked the Lightning to the all-important 1-0 lead on New Jersey. He just couldn't finish it off.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:10.

J.T. Brown was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 11:50. He had chances working well on a line with Kucherov, but he's just snake bitten as a finisher right now.

Matt Taormina had a clean sheet in 16:47. He looked pretty solid after getting the vote of confidence being made a top 6 d-man over Barberio for this game.

Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 3 shots in 12:30. I understand the fear of playing Kucherov in a game against a veteran team that plays the style of hockey New Jersey plays. But, Kucherov was the Lightning's most dynamic offensive player tonight. New Jersey struggled mightily to get the puck off Kucherov's stick, and from the moment he set Nate Thompson up for a good chance on his first shift in the First Period to the moment he absolutely dominated the Devils all over the ice en route to setting Brown up on a glorious chance in the Third Period, it was clear he was as dangerous a forward as the Lightning had. In games like these where the Lightning struggle offensively, I'm sorry, he's got to play more.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 17:27. He had one pretty bad turnover that I detected, but otherwise was quiet, which is good for a rookie d-man against New Jersey.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie played 5:37.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-12-13 Red Wings at Lightning

Lightning get back on the right side of the shootout.

TB-2 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots and denied all 6 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the SO victory. He made 2-3 amazing lateral saves over the course of the game to keep the Lightning in position to take away the 2 points, which erased memories of the lone goal he allowed which was a little soft mismanagement of a backhand rebound. On a tangent, I found Detroit's strategy of shooting only and not trying to deke Bishop in the shootout bizarre, and he ate their lunch because of it.

First Period
15:04 DET Quincey (1), (Nyquist, Franzen)

Second Period
19:16 TB Kucherov (3), (Brown)

Third Period


TB- St. Louis

Bishop and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

This was a very evenly played game, and the kind of game the Lightning is going to have to continue to win if they're going to stay on track for the postseason. With the exception of the first 10 minutes of the Third Period, I thought they had a slight advantage territorially, but Detroit probably had slightly better chances. Where the Lightning can help themselves are in some obvious areas: 1.) Be better on the PP, 2.) Be better on odd man rushes. I see too many PP's where it takes 3/4 of the PP just to try to get a decent set up. I see too many 3-on-2's where the Lightning settle for a bad, unscreened shot from the side instead of moving the puck to the middle or getting something laterally. I see too many 2-on-1's where passes are broken up and the Lightning get no shots on goal. I see too many breakaways where the Lightning miss the net or fail to put the opposing goaltender in a challenging position to make a save. They wasted several opportunities like this tonight, and if they can start improving in these areas I think they'll find the games will go a lot easier for them. When you take advantage of opportunities like those, you don't have to be as perfect to win games.

Tampa Bay starts the 4th 10 game segment of the season with 2 points. Just 10 more to go in this segment.

Radko Gudas was +1 with 1 shot, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 23:49. Stud. He does not care what your resume says. He does not care how many rings, trophies, or trophy wives with rings that you have. He will hit you, and he will hit you to hurt. Tonight's victim was Pavel Datsyuk, who by the Third Period looked very tired of Radko being on his back like a cheap, scratchy bearded t-shirt. He is blowing all expectations out of the water proving he can play against the other team's top line and excel defensively.

Mark Barberio had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 7:13. He had a better game than against Washington, but that's an awful low bar to clear. A flea couldn't limbo under that bar.

Tyler Johnson had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 23:33 and was 46% on draws. His line was not nearly as dangerous as in the previous two contests.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:50. I thought his line with Filppula and Purcell was the most dangerous, and Filppula and Killorn in particular were very hard on the puck and created quite a few chances. If he can get one, I think the floodgates open for Killorn. He's back to playing his game.

Ondrej Palat had 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 22:26. He had one really awful turnover in his own end in the First Period that he got away with, but started to atone after that pick pocketing a Wing to get a partial break that resulted in a penalty and setting up a couple of chances with cross ice passes through traffic that took a lot of vision and touch. He's getting the bigger minutes now for a reason. He's earned them.

J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 12:41. Feed Kucherov in his spot, get points.

Matt Taormina had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:42. I think Lightning fans give him a pass because he's fighting above his weight class, but he's almost as bad in his own end as Barberio is. He had 5 giveaways tonight. The team only had 11 overall. On the good side, he did land a really nice hit tonight and he looks decent using his big shot on the PP. But, man, he's pretty scary in his own third.

Kucherov had the big goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 14:47. He has a spot. High slot. Quick release. All 3 goals have come from that spot. I think he might even be 3/3 on shots from that spot (or pretty close). As anemic as the PP has been, were I Cooper, I would be scheming ways to get Kucherov looks on the PP from that spot.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 15:09. He didn't stick out tonight, which is good for a rookie defenseman playing against Detroit.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-10-13 Lightning at Capitals

Capitals steal a point from the Lightning.

WSH-6 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots and 3 of 5 shooters to convert in the Shootout for the SO Loss. He wasn't as on top of his game as usual, but the only goal I might be able to fault him for was Ovechkin's tying goal with the empty net, which squirted underneath his armpit.

First Period
2:26 TB St Louis (13), (Salo, Johnson)(PP)
10:49 TB Kucherov (2), (Purcell, Carle)(PP)
11:07 TB Thompson (3), (Brown, Crombeen)
14:15 WSH Ovechkin (23), (Backstrom)

Second Period
6:24 WSH Backstrom (7), (Grabovski, Brouwer)(PP)
12:41 TB Johnson (7), (Palat, St Louis)
16:38 WSH Ovechkin (24), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
18:48 WSH Ovechkin (25), (Green, Backstrom)(PP)

Third Period
8:36 TB Palat (5), (Johnson, St Louis)
19:27 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Carlson, Backstrom)


TB- Kucherov, Purcell
WSH- Fehr, Grabovski, Brouwer

Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.

The Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of in this game. They dominated, and I mean DOMINATED play at even strength. They outshot Washington 42-31 and if it weren't for Washington being spotted two goals on a boarding major, I suspect the Lightning would have won this game in regulation going away. That's quite the achievement going against a high-powered team like Washington with their top defenseman, Victor Hedman, out of the lineup. I'll take that effort, minus the boarding major, 9 nights out of 10 and win on most of those nights.

The Lightning close the third 10-game segment of the season with 9 points, 3 shy of the minimum 12 you want every 10-game segment. That's bad. However, because the team had gotten a surplus of 4 points in the first 2 segments of the campaign, they remain on track for the season. However, they cannot afford to keep falling behind schedule in these 10-game segments and this fourth segment coming up is going to be critical for the Lightning as they attempt to stay in position for a postseason run.

Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 shots, 10 hits, and 3 blocked shots in a huge 28:38 of ice time. That's not a typo (neither the minutes nor the hits). The young man's a stud.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot in 7:18. Only Panik had less ice time (for reasons that will be obvious later), and that is very reflective of how he played. If you're ever looking to make the case on why plus-minus is a deceptive stat, Mark Barberio might be Case 1. Yes, he's got a good plus-minus so far this season and even got a plus rating in this game. No, he's not good defensively at all. He had an ill-advised step up in the neutral zone in the Second Period that led to a quick 3-on-1, a really long foray for Washington in the offensive zone, and eventually a penalty on the Lightning that Backstrom scored on to cut the Lightning's lead to 3-2. In the Third Period, Barberio was defending a defenseman, Karl Alzner, on the rush and Alzner nearly beat Barberio around the corner. Barberio made a stay-at-home defenseman look like Bill Guerin in his prime. So, you have bad decision making and a guy who is physically weak. That's a recipe for disaster the Lightning coaching staff decided not to bake with tonight.

Tyler Johnson had 1 goal, 3 points, and was +2 with 3 shots in 20:50. He was also 42% on draws. He was certainly on the right line tonight, supporting St. Louis and Palat as they ran wild on the Caps. He wasn't the straw that stirs the drink, but he's a nice compliment to those two.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 22:20. The penalty he took was a complete fabrication by the refs and it's fortunate that didn't cost the Lightning. Beyond that, I thought Killorn had one of his better games in a while. He was strong as an ox on the puck and getting shots in bunches, playing his game. This is what you expect from Alex Killorn.

Ondrej Palat had 1 goal, 2 points, and was +2 with 6 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:25. In my mind he was the Lightning's best player tonight. He was so dangerous on the rush and he already is showing incredible chemistry with Martin St. Louis. Those two look like they have magic together and Palat nearly won the game twice in Overtime hitting the post from the RW circle on one play and toe dragging into the slot for another opportunity he was denied on. He was outstanding, and it speaks to the quality of Palat's game that of all the talented rookies this team has he is the one that is standing out the most right now.

J.T. Brown had an assist, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 11:02. He played sparing minutes with the fourth line but made the most of them, in my mind. He gave Nate Thompson an easy goal on a 2-on-1 by freezing the goaltender with a fake shot before dishing and he helped that line put together a stabilizing forechecking shift when the team was clinging to a 1 goal lead at 3-2 in the Second Period.

Matt Taormina had 2 hits in 11:33. A lot of his time came on the second PP unit as the Lightning tried to hide him a bit from Washington's skillful forwards.

Nikita Kucherov had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:07. He has a spot. High slot. Give him the puck there for a quick release slapper and he's looking as money as Steven Stamkos from the left wing circle. As breathtaking as that goal was, his Pavel Datsyuk impression in the Shootout is the one you're going to see on highlight reels. The young man has ridiculous hands.

Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 11:36. He stood up ok with his reach on the one really dangerous rush I recall him facing, but it's clear he wasn't comfortable with Washington's pace so the Lightning coaches appeared to protect him just like Barberio and Taormina.

Richard Panik had 5 penalty minutes with 1 shot and 1 hit in 5:29. His major for boarding Alzner was obviously the turning point of the game. The Lightning held a 4-2 lead on Washington at the time he took the penalty and appeared to be cruising toward a victory. Washington emerged from that major penalty with a 4-4 tie, and that allowed Washington to avoid getting run out of their own building, in my opinion. The Lightning have Tyrell on emergency recall from Syracuse, so I don't know if it's feasible to send Panik down right now, but something's got to give. He's just not contributing anything right now, and he owes the team a point after tonight's debacle. I feel bad for the young man, but the team can't keep investing time in him and keep getting nothing in return. Ultimately, Steve Yzerman and Jon Cooper aren't running a charity. This is a results oriented business and 30 games into the season Panik simply hasn't been getting results.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-3-13 Lightning at Blue Jackets

Lightning skate the final 40 minutes like they were in a turkey-induced coma.


Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the loss. He deserved better. He was hung out to dry 1-on-1 with an uncovered shooter on the only goal he allowed.

First Period

Second Period
4:30 CBJ Foligno (7), (Johansen)

Third Period

There haven't been many times this season where the Lightning have been outworked. Tonight, they got absolutely outworked by an arguably less talented team. That effort simply won't do. The power play was bad. The Blue Jackets double teamed the Lightning all over the ice to win puck battles. Their puck support was excellent, the Lightning's was terrible. They went to the net front. The Lightning acted like they were allergic to it. There's nothing good you can say about the night, other than thanking Ben Bishop for giving the team a chance. The Lightning will not reach 12 points in this 3rd 10 game segment of the season. They have to readjust their sights to at least salvage 8 points to leverage some of the extra points they got in the first 2 segments of the year to try to stay on track. It's bad. This was a bad, bad loss.

Mark Barberio had 2 hits in 17:16. I didn't notice any huge mistakes, but he was oddly invisible at the offensive end of the ice, too.

Tyler Johnson had 2 shots, 1 hit, and was 53% on draws in 17:19. He was the Lightning's best center tonight. That's a low bar to clear, though. You could trip on it.

Alex Killorn had 1 shot and 1 hit and was 50% on draws in 16:40. I'm beginning to think his game is too north-south to work at the center position. Seems like a pro winger.

Ondrej Palat had 2 blocked shots in 17:26. He came close a couple of times to working the Lightning into the scoring chance they needed, either with his forechecking or his stick handling. Just couldn't get anything to stick.

J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:27. He had a breakaway chance that he was stopped on that led to Bobrovsky leaving the game and he was one of the few Lightning forwards consistently going to the net.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:18. Had a slick little attempt on net in the First Period and helped spring Brown for his breakaway chance. I don't know why, with the team down 1 goal in each of the past 2 games, Cooper hasn't spotted him more with quality line mates. Cooper moved Tyrell onto the kid line in lieu of Panik, and I just face palmed. Tyrell wasn't going to finish off a chance from Johnson or Palat. Let's just be honest with ourselves about that. I have no idea why you don't spot a finisher like Kucherov on that line instead.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:15. He was one third of the rolling blunder that led to the game's only goal. At least he can say it wasn't a rookie mistake, because two veterans (including Filppula, who was exceptionally brutal tonight) chose to partake in creating that king-sized dumpster fire of a play.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Day: 11-29-13 Penguins at Lightning

Bounces don't go the Lightning's way.


Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He played well. It's hard to be upset considering the first goal he allowed was off a great cross ice feed from Crosby and the second was a centering feed that bounced off Hedman and in. Most nights that effort gets Bishop in the winner's circle.

First Period
6:53 PIT Kunitz (12), (Crosby, Letang)

Second Period

Third Period
8:27 PIT Sutter (5), (Crosby, Jokinen)(PP)
18:17 PIT Kunitz (13), (Malkin, Crosby)(EN)

J.T. Brown was the game's second star.

There's nothing to be ashamed of in tonight's effort. They held their own against an elite caliber team and just didn't get the bounce or two they needed. I'll take that effort 9 games out of 10 and take my chances that the bounces start to go my way. The unfortunate thing is that the loss is going to make it really difficult for the Lightning to get 12 points out of this 10 game segment of the season, now needing 7 of 8 possible points in the next 4 games. That's the problem with losing streaks like on the Lightning's West Coast swing. They really cut your margin of error down dramatically.

Mark Barberio had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:59. His delay of game penalty in the Third Period led to Pittsburgh's insurance goal and, as usual, he just isn't strong along the wall in his own end. He's got to improve there. Period, point blank.

Tyler Johnson was -2 with 1 shot and he was 62% on draws in 18:58. That stat line doesn't tell the tale. The kid line matched up head to head against the Crosby line all game long and they held their own. Crosby set up Pittsburgh's first goal, but they got nothing else until the empty netter at the end, and the balance of play between the two lines was surprisingly even. That's incredibly impressive for three rookies.

Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots and was 29% on draws in 15:01. QUIT TAKING OFFENSIVE ZONE PENALTIES! That is all.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:52. I'll echo my comments about TJ with regard to Palat and add that both Palat and Johnson were also outstanding on the PK.

Brown had 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:10. He worked himself into quite a few good chances and set up 1-2 others for his teammates. He's a little snakebit right now, but that will pass with time.

Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots in 14:31. He had a partial breakaway and a couple of other quality scoring chances. Sooner or later, he's going to put up a multi-goal game, I'm fairly certain. He's very dangerous, and I would actually like to see him spotted in Panik's place on the kid line just to see if a little more polished finisher on that line can yield some dividends.

Andrej Sustr was -1 with 1 shot and 3 blocked shots in 18:05. He was on the ice for Pittsburgh's first goal, but that was a superstar play off the rush by Crosby. Beyond that, he also held his own. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:27. He had maybe the chance of the game on his stick at the end of the Second Period all along in front of Fleury and target visioned it right into Fleury's chest. Ploof. I don't know how the Lightning can breath confidence into him at this point, but I do know that kid line is generating chances for Panik and they're not going in because he's the most snake bitten at all. Given its been feast or famine in the goal department since Stamkos' injury, I'm very serious that Cooper should consider spotting a finisher like Kucherov on that line if these late game situations come up where the Lightning are scrambling to find a goal.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-27-13 Flyers at Lightning

Vinny's return drowned out by the Hedmania.


Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the victory. He had the shutout working until just under 3 minutes left in the game when he was hung out to dry for two quick ones. It would've been nice for the team to stay focused and get that shutout for Anders, who has been playing better of late. He had a solid, workmanlike performance tonight, including stopping Wayne Simmonds on a penalty shot (on a terrible call on what should've been treated as an excellent play by Victor Hedman).

First Period

Second Period
9:15 TB Hedman (5), (Thompson, Johnson)
12:16 TB Palat (4), (Hedman, Sustr)(SH)

Third Period
5:00 TBL Hedman (6), (Purcell, Filppula)(PP)
18:07 PHI Lecavalier (9), (Schenn, Streit)(PP)
18:47 PHI Mark Streit (1), (Giroux)
19:26 TB Johnson (6), (unassisted)(EN)

Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and third stars. Palat was robbed.

Obviously there was a very strange dynamic at play with Vincent Lecavaier's first game back in Tampa since leaving the organization. That probably contributed to a strange First Period where neither team played terribly good hockey. The Lightning had more possession, partly because of some awful turnovers by Philly, but the Lightning also got away with some mistakes that could've gotten a lot worse for them had Philly been on. Coming out of the First Intermission, though, the Lightning took the game by the throat and dominated for the next 37 minutes of the game before some late stumbles that made the game more interesting than it should have been. I have no doubt that Jon Cooper will be pleased with the 35-21 shot advantage in the contest, and I also have no doubt he'll enjoy using those last 2 Flyers goals in garbage time as a teaching tool for his young team about making sure they finish off games. Actually, the more I think about it, Jon Cooper is probably pinching himself his team only gave up 21 shots and precious few scoring chances with Radko Gudas still out of the lineup.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Victor Hedman basically took over the middle part of this game. On both sides of the puck he was everywhere. Defense. Offense. He was the best player on the ice. I'll remind everyone that in the year he was drafted, some scouting services like Red Line Report went so far as to say Hedman was a prospect with potential that exceeded even that of Steven Stamkos from the draft class previous. It takes longer for defensemen to adjust to the NHL than it does for forwards because the position demands more maturity and a more cerebral approach than playing forward. If Hedman's starting to lift up to the lofty potential that scouts saw in him when he was drafted, watch out. If he becomes a true, dominant #1 NHL defenseman it can completely alter the landscape of the team's future for the better.

With back-to-back wins over the Rangers and Flyers coming off Bishop stealing a point in Anaheim, the Lightning checks into the 5th game of this 3rd 10 game segment of the season with 5 points, 7 shy of the 12 you want, at a minimum, in every segment. They're still a little off pace, but it's a strong recovery from the disastrous trip to the West Coast. Pittsburgh on Friday is a tall order, but if they can get a point or two out of that game, you have to like how they've kept their wits about them after their first real adversity of the campaign.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot in 14:28. I'll give Barberio credit. Yes, he made 3-4 mistakes in his own zone, but he seems to be getting away with them, and we all know he's pretty darn good in the other two zones.

Johnson had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +3 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:28. He was also 57% on draws. His speed created the capping empty net goal in the game, and his kid line continues to consistently be a bright spot for the team regardless of how the rest of the club is performing.

Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and was 40% on draws in 17:09. Quit taking minor penalties. Bloody hell, you're a Harvard graduate. You're allegedly smarter than this.

Ondrej Palat had a shorthanded goal and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:12. My man deserved a star tonight. His work to hustle the Flyers under extra attacker duress created the pass/bobble that led to Johnson's empty net goal. That one of those hidden assists you don't find on the scoresheet, but it'll be there when the coach's evaluate this game.

J.T. Brown was -1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:08. He was absolutely robbed blind on a bid in the First Period by Ray Emery. He was less of a factor after that.

Nikita Kucherov had 6 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:56. Yes, he got the goal in his first game, but that was just a decent game for Kucherov overall. Tonight, he was a whole other step above that even if he didn't get the result on the scoresheet. He had 5 scoring chances by himself, should've had a 6th on a breakaway where I think his eyes got a little big and he bobbled away the puck, and he set up 1-2 more scoring chances for linemates like Purcell passing the puck, too. I'm not sure I've ever seen a prospect come up and be this quick/decisive with the puck, offensively. He gets the puck and it's either immediately gone via a pass or gone full steam on a hard shot on net. Earlier in his career there might've been the critique that he overhandled the puck, which is a typical Russian stereotype, but I haven't detected that at all in this callup. Additionally, he seems very motivated to stay in the NHL and he's backchecking like a mad man. That last part has to make the Lightning organization the most excited of all. They've really gotten Nikita to buy into playing on the other side of the puck to win back possession and help keep it out of the back of his own 4x6, and that's how a good player becomes a championship caliber player. If he keeps playing like he did tonight, I don't see how he could, in all good conscience, be sent back down to the AHL. That's how good he was tonight.

Andrej Sustr had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:01. I loves me some Andrej Sustr. I have to think he's one of the bigger reasons for how well the Lightning performed defensively tonight, absorbing some of Gudas' share of the ice time and looking incredibly poised doing it. The Flyers are a team that likes to run at people and that can rattle young players. There was no shrinking violet under pressure by Sustr tonight, though. He moved the puck smartly regardless of whether he was going to take a bump or not. Very mature.

Richard Panik was +1 with 1 hit in 14:02. Honestly, I thought he was a bit of a passenger tonight on the line with Palat and Johnson. You'd like to see him catch up to Palat and Johnson's level of play and start contributing, because if he does that line will go from good to great in a hurry.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-25-13 Rangers at Lightning

Tampa Bay celebrates Marty1k Night in style.


Ben Bishop stopped all 37 shots he faced for the victory. There was no doubt the Lightning were loosey goosey defensively in the First and Second Periods, due a lot to the absence of Radko Gudas, but Bishop is the big eraser of mistakes. His First Period glove stop on Stralman will make highlight reels, for sure. Another night where U of Maine Justice was served.

First Period
2:12 TB Kucherov (1), (Purcell, Brewer)
3:10 TB St. Louis (9), (Filppula, Hedman)

Second Period
3:12 TB St. Louis (10) , (Filppula, Sustr)
16:52 TB Purcell (6), (unassisted)

Third Period
18:59 TB Purcell (7), (St. Louis, Alex Killorn)

Martin St. Louis, Bishop, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

Life is good when you have a true number one goaltender. You give Bishop a few goals of support to work with and he's going to get you across the finish line on most nights. The Lightning did a decent enough job keeping the really heinous odd man rushes and breakaways out of their game, and even though they were loose in their own end and allowed a ton of shots, it was enough. All that said, I wouldn't want a steady diet of it and I hope Gudas returns very, very soon.

The Kucherov goal was a nice story, especially on this website, but it was gravy and not meat and potatoes. The meat and potatoes story of the night was that Marty and Purcell each had a pair of goals. Those two getting on track is what has to happen for the Lightning to stay in the hunt until #91's return. Silky smooth hands by Martin St. Louis on his two breakaway goals. I'd expect nothing less if the Swedish Battletank, Fredrik Modin, made the trek down to the game, as he did tonight.

Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He's not going to ever be confused for Scott Stevens in his own third, but if he cuts down the really poor turnovers, the Lightning may be able to live with him.

Tyler Johnson had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 18:38 and was 75% on draws. Home cooking agrees with Tyler's faceoff percentage.

Alex Killorn had a helper and was +3 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 14:13. He was also 25% on draws. It's a decent stat line, but the number of penalties he's taking won't cut it.

Ondrej Palat had 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:23. Excellent on the penalty kill. Excellent on one or two occasions carrying the puck for entry into the offensive zone on the PP. He's quietly a backbone type player on the lower lines.

J.T. Brown was +2 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 16:45. His speed allows him to be very active in the play and he's got a quick release that he isn't afraid to use. He's been a nice fit getting some scoring line and PP minutes.

Kucherov scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot on his first NHL shift. Efficiency. He was also +2 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:31. You got a taste of his talents tonight, with a quick, hard release on his goal and a quick, crafty setup to Teddy Purcell that nearly amounted to a helper. That was the good. The nitpick side points out he got away with one offensive zone penalty that sprung Purcell on his first goal and he probably got away with another offensive zone penalty later in the game. I don't know if the refs had great dinner reservations they didn't want to miss, but both teams got away with bloody murder in the offensive zone in the second half of tonight's game.

Andrej Sustr had a helper and was +1 with 2 blocked shots in 21:44. He recovered from a pretty terrible shift early in the First Period to have a decent night lugging big minutes in Gudas' absence.

Richard Panik had 2 shots in 14:35.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 5 penalty minutes in 0:38 of ice time. He left the game with an upper body injury after his second shift.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

What to Expect from J.T. Brown and Dmitry Korobov

In the wake of the rash of injuries suffered in yesterday afternoon's game in Boston, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they recalled RW J.T. Brown and D Dmitry Korobov from Syracuse of the AHL. Brown and Korobov are two of the team's older, more tenured prospects in the system and both will look to get an opportunity to test their progress against NHL competition. Here's what to expect from each player:

Lightning fans should be a little familiar with J.T. Brown given he had a short 5-game stint with the Lightning in the 2011-2012 campaign after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown has exceptional speed, above average skill, and willingness to stick his nose in on the forecheck despite possessing a slightly built frame. He looked to have a spot in Tampa Bay heading into the 2012-2013 season before the lockout and injury problems took his career track on a detour. Playing in Syracuse, Brown has since adopted to more of a two-way role playing on a checking line with Mike Angelidis in last year's deep playoff run, and in a complimentary winger's role as his alter ego, "J.T. Brownov," playing alongside Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov on the Crunch's top line so far this year. His grit and heavy shot are assets on that line. Brown's selection may mean that Alex Killorn will slide over to center and also signals that Jon Cooper may choose a more defensive-minded, two-way approach to dealing with the team's post-Stamkos injury reality.

Dmitry Korobov (pictured) will be looking to get his first taste of NHL action after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, the Belarusian Korobov gained a significant amount of experience playing for Dinamo Minsk in Russia's KHL. Last year, Korobov played on the top-two pairings for Syracuse for much of the season, and with Syracuse's youth movement along the blueline he's taken on an even greater role this year with the Crunch. Standing at 6'3" 230 lbs, Korobov's most obvious assets are his size and strength. He does not shy away from the physical game and does enjoy pursuing the big hit. He also has underrated puck-moving skills as demonstrated by the 22 points he put up with Syracuse last year to go along with a very solid +20 rating. Like Radko Gudas, Korobov is a fan of the hip-check. Korobov's weaknesses are that his skating, while adequate, sometimes suffers from sloppy footwork in his stop-starts and pivots and like any young defenseman, his decision-making sometimes isn't 100% spot-on. With the Lightning's lack of depth at this particular position, and Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie already struggling to begin with, Korobov has a golden opportunity right now to move up the depth chart quickly and make his case to stay in the NHL.

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