Goaltending betrays the Lightning in its moment of need.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 11 shots for the loss before getting lifted in the Second Period. 1-2 of those goals were the semi-soft variety. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 8 shots he faced in relief, but he didn't look super-sharp himself, particularly with his rebound control. It was just a rare off night for the tandem on a night where they were dueling with one of the league's best in Rinne.
3:28 NSH Ribeiro (14), (Josi)
4:08 NSH Gaustad (4), (Beck)
19:31 TB Namestnikov (7), (Sustr, Barberio)
6:47 NSH Santorelli (12), (Jarnkrok, Stalberg)
13:19 TB Boyle (15), (Brown, Drouin)
Just a shame to see a reasonably good effort squandered by lackluster goaltending. The Lightning outshot Nashville 30-19 and completely dominated large swaths of play, but they were 0-for-5 on the power play and could not get the equalizer. The silver lining is that Montreal is losing 4-1 to Winnipeg in the Third Period as I type. If that score holds up, there's no harm and the Lightning will still be 1 point out in the division with time to catch up. They could've easily gotten 1-2 points out of tonight, though, and that's the part that stings a bit.
Vladislav Namestnikov had a goal and 1 shot in 10:18. This went about the way most of his games have gone lately where he gets IT and looks dangerous offensively for the first 25 minutes or so of play, and then sees the pine the rest of the way as the coaching staff taps some guys who are perhaps a little more consistent defensively. He's been very good offensively though with his speed and handles, to the extent that the team is maneuvering to try and keep him on the roster right now. He's 5 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the site now.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. You hate to see a goaltender allow 3 in under 3 minutes like he did in the Second Period, but you applaud the mental toughness to not allow anything else the rest of the way.
5:49 TB Morrow (3), (Brown)
7:47 TB Johnson (26), (Callahan)
6:16 FLA Jokinen (7), (Boyes, Gudbranson)
6:34 FLA Pirri (18), (Trocheck)
8:14 FLA Huberdeau (12), (Barkov, Jagr)
1:30 TB Kucherov (27), (Sustr, Palat)
17:32 TB Callahan (22), (Killorn, Stamkos)
Ryan Callahan and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.
The Lightning didn't deserve a damned thing out of this game. Clearly they talked about their tendency to come out flat in games like these against lesser opposition and they quickly stormed out to the 2-0 lead. But, after the refs gifted a phantom boarding call on Kucherov to the Panthers, and the PK surrendered 5 SOG's in 2 minutes, Florida had the momentum pretty much the rest of the game. It was only by the grace of a great individual play by Kucherov on his wraparound goal and a horrific softie by Luongo on Callahan's goal that Tampa Bay escaped with 2 points. And, yeah, you'll take it, but it's another frustrating example of the team's mental weakness in games like these. It's weird to say you'd rather see top-tier opponents rather than the Jets and Panthers of the world, but you know the team simply hasn't put a 60 minute effort together anytime recently against opponents like the Jets or Panthers.
As I type, the Lightning have moved into a tie with Montreal at 99 points, with the Canadiens just having their game with Nashville tied at 2-2. We'll see how the rest of the night unfolds, but the pressure is still on Montreal to keep their meager lead atop the Atlantic Division.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot in 12:47. Like most of his teammates, his play evaporated in the final 40 minutes of action as they got pinned up in their own zone time and time again.
Stick that in your pipe, Jack Edwards.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Sad lack of net front coverage late in the Third by the Lightning allowed the garbage time goal that wrecked a solid stat line for Ben. Maybe the only blemish on the game.
0:33 BOS Bergeron (21), (Marchand, McQuaid)
5:49 TB Namestnikov (6), (Morrow, Brown)
10:47 TB Brown (3), (Palat, Carle)
11:02 TB Stralman (8), (Filppula, Namestnikov)
7:54 TB Garrison (4), (Johnson, Carle)
10:22 BOS Chara (8), (Smith, Pastrnak)(PP)
13:50 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Kucherov)(PP)
19:12 BOS Paille (6), (Talbot, Campbell)
J.T. Brown, Steven Stamkos, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. Funny how the Bruins got distinctly less big and bad when Stamkos jumped on Marchand after his low-bridge hit on Filppula. What they say is true: the best way to handle a bully is to bloody their nose a bit. Between that and the early 4th line contributions, you knew this was going to be the Lightning's game. It'll be interesting to see how Cedric Paquette draws back into the lineup now, because all 4 lines are clicking reasonably well at the moment.
The victory puts the Lightning at 97 points for the season, meaning they've passed the 96 point mark we peg as the minimum threshold to comfortably make the playoffs. They're also still lurking just 2 points shy of Montreal for the division lead, and we can now officially make banner chasing the mission of the rest of the regular season.
Namestnikov had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:42 of ice time. He might've run out of a little steam in the final 40 minutes of hockey and had at least one pretty awful turnover, which happened in the Second Period, but he's played very well overall. Well enough that I wouldn't be shocked if Namestnikov stays with the Lightning even after Paquette returns from injury. He's now 7 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website with 9 games left on the schedule.
Tampa Bay's ownership of the Atlantic Division version of the Red Wings continues unabated.
Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. Again, with a playoff-type atmosphere and caliber of opponent, Bishop laid down a marker that he's going to be a serious postseason player.
1:22 TB Stralman (7), (Hedman, Palat)
6:57 DET Tatar (26), (unassisted)(PP)
10:31 TB Killorn (15), (Hedman, Drouin)
19:32 TB Stamkos (40), (Boyle, Palat)(EN)
Bishop and Victor Hedman were the game's first and second stars.
Hedman was a beast, and was the best player on the rink, in my opinion. Very active diffusing plays at the defensive end of the rink and showed a lot of speed and savvy on the rush all game long. He probably should've had a goal on a 2-on-1 with Drouin early in the game that would've made his stat line even more impressive. As it was, he settled for two helpers. Steven Stamkos wasn't as dominant as Hedman all game long, but he dominated Kronwall to get the insurance goal at the end. Don't you wish you had the talent to be a "little off" most of the season, and still hit 40 goals with 10 games left to play? Just to make sure I fully and thoroughly beat the horse to death: when those two are the Lightning's best players, the Lightning can't be defeated.
Meanwhile, Drej Palat emerged from the hyperbaric chamber and sneezed out a couple of helpers of his own. Just chill, until the next episode.
The Lightning are now 1 point shy of the preseason target of 96 points to comfortably make the playoffs. The victory also pulled Tampa Bay to within 2 points of Montreal for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with neither team holding a game in hand. Remember, a tie almost certainly goes to the Lightning on ROW.
Vladislav Namestnikov played 12:51 in the match. I'm shocked how blank his scoresheet looks, because he was noticable on the rink tonight.
Lightning's regular season ownership of Montreal continues unabated.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the victory. After a so-so outing against Boston, he was sparkling against Montreal. Now, mind you, he did make it a lot harder on himself with his puckhandling gaffe to start the Third Period, but he made that 1 goal lead stand up the rest of the way, too. He seems to savor these duel opportunities against Price, and he's been getting the better end of them.
10:07 TB Filppula (12), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)
15:58 TB Stamkos (38), (unassisted)
2:45 TB Hedman (10), (Killorn, Callahan)
11:10 MTL Plekanec (21), (Subban, Markov)(PP)
0:34 MTL Parenteau (7), (Plekanec)
18:55 TB Stamkos (39), (Namestnikov, Garrison)(PP)(EN)
Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were the game's first and third stars. I've said it constantly over the course of the second half: the franchise cornerstones need to be the team's best players for the Lightning to go anywhere in the playoffs this year. Tonight, in a playoff atmosphere against a hated opponent with division title supremacy up for grabs, the Lightning got 3 goals and 2 assists out of the duo. That's great to see, especially after the Hedman turnover in his last outing against Winnipeg.
The Lightning are 3 points shy of the 96 points we target at the start of the season to comfortably make the playoffs, but the focus is starting to shift at this juncture of the season. The Lightning needed this win tonight to keep their Atlantic Division title aspirations in good shape, and they got it done. The teams are back to all square at 93 points each with the Habs holding a game in hand. But, the Lightning have a 4 game ROW lead right now, so the tie will likely go to Tampa Bay if it comes to that.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 with a helper and 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 11:06. After taking several cross checks in the neutral zone from Brendan Gallagher, who thought he was safe by jumping on a baby-faced Russian rookie, Namestnikov swiftly took the initiative and relieved Gallagher of any sinus congestion he might be having by beating the snot out of the veteran with 3-4 quick rights. My goodness. Peckaham dubbed him "Baby Faced Killer" on the SunSports broadcast. A legend was born. If you're wondering, he's 9 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website, so he's got a realistic opportunity to wrap that up before the regular season expires and join Drouin and Paquette as this year's Bolt Prospects Alumni class.