Lightning run into a bad mix of fatigue and the Devils' style of play.
Evgeni Nabokov allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the loss in his Lightning debut. I have no complaints. He gave his team an opportunity to win.
7:38 NJ Zajac (1), (Greene, Cammalleri)
8:59 TB Killorn (1), (Johnson, Stralman)
11:19 NJ Cammalleri (4), (Elias, Havlat)(PP)
Nabokov was the game's second star.
It was a tough spot. 4th game in 6 nights. Back end of the back-to-back. The Devils a grinding team with the refs letting them play. And, then you fall behind to them. It's a really tough spot to find yourself in, and the Lightning did well to tie the game in the Third Period, which is typically impossible against New Jersey. But, in the end, they got the greasy goal they needed to snap the tie and win the contest. Valiant effort, and I suspect the outcome would've been more favorable if the Lightning had been able to maintain their First Period pace and intensity.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 shots, 1 hit, and was 40% on draws in 10:35. Namesy and Kucherov set up some nice opportunities, but the Devils did a good job keeping them out of the high traffic areas for second opportunities, which allowed Schneider to do what he needed to do to get NJ the victory.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 17 shots for the victory. He made the 1-2 key stops he needed to make, and let the team in front of him do the rest. Efficient performance.
5:24 TB Hedman (3), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)
9:51 TB Stamkos (1), (Callahan, Hedman)(PP)
12:16 MTL Gallagher (1), (Tinordi, Weaver)
13:15 TB Stamkos (2), (Hedman)
18:14 TB Stamkos (3), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
6:26 TB Callahan (2), (Carle)
6:43 TB Palat (1), (Boyle, Stralman)
16:55 TB Namestnikov (1), (Kucherov)
Why was I so tough on the Lightning after they sleepwalked through more than half of the Ottawa game. Because, this. This is what they're capable of. You had two of the best in the game, Stamkos and Hedman, take over a game, Bishop making critical saves at key junctures, and the overall speed and skill of the Lightning simply running Montreal out of the building. They have the ability to do that to dominate just about everyone in the Eastern Conference if they focus the way they did tonight.
Vladislav Namestnikov had a night of firsts with 1 goal and 1 assist for a +1 rating in 9:30. He also had 3 shots and 1 blocked shot and he was 33% on draws.
Not good enough.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 26 shots before surrendering scores to 2 of 3 in the penalty shot session to take the shootout loss. The Lightning should have no complaints about their goaltending tonight, though.
15:42 TB Hedman (2), (Stamkos, Filppula)(PP)
7:34 OTT Karlsson (1), (Chiasson, Ryan)
9:10 OTT Stone (1), (Turris)
12:34 TB Connolly (1), (Boyle)
OTT- Turris, Zibanejad
Ben Bishop was the second star.
You could try to spin this game as a positive. The Lightning outshot Ottawa 40-34. They absolutely ran circles around them possession-wise, at times, especially in the Second Period. You could chalk this up as a defeat due to Robin Lehner having a great night.
And, that'd all be bull. The fact is, that effort tonight was not good enough, particularly from the Lightning's defense. And, it's not because Ottawa was the better team athletically. They're not. They have some players, particularly Karlsson, who put pressure on you, but the really annoying thing about this game was the number of mistakes made by the Lightning's blueliners when there was little or no pressure on them at all. The consistency of the breakout passing tonight was horrible. Passes off target. Hope passes up the boards to empty points. Bad. And, then you mix in some really bad turnovers at the point in the Ottawa zone to boot, which is just feeding into the strengths of Ottawa. Again, bad. That's self inflicted wounds and if it weren't for the fact that A.) They've got a world class netminder in Bishop, and B.) Ottawa frankly let them off the hook by not doing much with a lot of really amazing chances that they were given, they could've lost this game in regulation by a fairly wide margin.
None of that excuses the defensive zone coverage of the forwards, either, by the way. Allowing Stone to gash right down the heart of the slot uncovered like he was taking a Sunday stroll is inexcusable, and you had your team captain, Steven Stamkos, and Mr. Intangibles, Ryan Callahan (who, leadership-wise, I've been told is a cross between George Washington, Braveheart, and MLK Jr.) who were the bystanders on that play just watching it happen. C'mon. Man up.
The stakes have been raised, boys and girls. The prize this team got for a very convincing 2013-2014 campaign where they left the ice knowing that they have arguably the best goal scorer in the league (Stamkos), a legit Norris candidate (Hedman), and a legit Vezina candidate (Bishop), is the very real expectation that this team should be chasing a Stanley Cup on an annual basis for at least the next half decade. The General Manager of this team spent a lot of time and effort shoring up its deficiencies on the blueline and in terms of veteran leadership and all the pieces are pretty much in place for this club to be elite. So, there are no excuses for the slop we saw tonight. None at all.
Monday, Montreal is coming to town. Anybody care to wager a certain Quebecois wunderkind might be making his NHL debut in that game? Can't wait to see that, and a team that should be very motivated to put their best foot forward unlike what we saw tonight.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 and 67% on draws in 12:02 of ice time. His line had positive moments, but a man can't feed his family on potential. At some point, the Wizards of Ov line needs to yield some scoresheet production.
Lightning require extra time to tear down the Luongominiums.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the victory. Also, his alertness caught the Panthers on the change in the OT session to set up the GWG and earn a helper, too.
5:03 FLA Gudbranson (1), (Olsen, MacKenzie)
7:12 TB Johnson (1), (Filppula, Stralman)(PP)
7:17 TB Callahan (1), (Filppula, Hedman)(PP)
9:16 FLA Huberdeau (1), (Campbell, Ekblad)
1:11 TB Hedman (1), (Bishop)(PP)
Florida should be doing backflips to steal a point from this game. They played a pretty classic road underdog strategy relying on clogging things up in the last 2/3 of the rink and relying on their goaltender. The Lightning were clearly the superior side in shots, possession, and chances, but sometimes you get in a game like this where it's like playing through quicksand. Credit them for coming through and eventually getting the 2 points. Unlike last season, where the first 10 game segment was a murderer's row, this year the schedule is pretty soft to start so the Lightning only have themselves to blame if they don't get out of the blocks quickly in 2014-2015.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 in 10:10 with 3 shots and he was 57% on draws. He lost a D zone draw that led to Florida's first goal, but on the flip side he had a handful of really impactful shifts offensively in limited ice time. Not a bad start to the campaign.
Closing arguments for the Lightning's young forwards.
Ben Bishop looked to be in midseason form allowing 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. Florida was clearly embarrassed in their last outing and for getting blitzed in the First Period again tonight. They were out for redemption, but Bishop was having none of it.
3:21 FLA Barkov (1), (Campbell, Kulikov)(PP)
5:46 TB Kucherov (1), (unassisted)
10:21 TB Stamkos (1), (Hedman, Callahan)(PP)
18:59 TB Brown (1), (Boyle)
4:40 TB Stralman (1), (Johnson, Killorn)(PP)
Now the Lightning's brass will convene for the difficult decision of shaping the team's 23-man roster for opening night. They likely have a little more breathing room with the option of putting Jonathan Drouin on short-term IR and giving him a brief conditioning stint in the AHL when he gets off it, but the numbers game still is a difficult one. Mind you, they may have tipped their hand by putting Vladislav Namestnikov in the lineup tonight ahead of Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Marchessault, but we shall see.
Two things I feel very confident about after this preseason, though: 1.) Andrej Sustr and I will always have difficulty finding shirts with the proper sleeve length, and 2.) Jon Cooper will be drinking a fine, very old scotch out of the Governor's Cup by season's end. Book it.
Box score from NHL.com.
Young Lightning Crunch Nashville.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots in his North American debut for the victory. After falling behind 2-1 in the Second Period, the big Russian slammed the door the rest of the way, which is what good starting goaltenders do.
1:02 NSH Forsberg (1), (Wilson)
5:41 TB Kucherov (1), (Namestnikov, Marchessault)
7:40 NSH Smith (1), (Roy)
8:35 TB Marchessault (1), (Namestnikov)
13:49 TB Barberio (1), (Filppula, Witkowski)
15:08 TB Marchessault (2), (Namestnikov, Kucherov)
If you're a Syracuse Crunch fan, you have to be very satisfied with the way this group of players performed tonight. Your stud rookie netminder lived up to expectations. What may be your top line exploded for 3 goals including keying a big comeback. And Luke Witkowski beat the brown runny out of someone, to boot. Not a lot to complain about there.
Box score from NHL.com.
Playing out the string, Crunch still sorting out themselves for next season.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 31 shots before allowing 2 of 5 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
WBS Kobasew, (9) (Ebbett, Dumoulin), 4:46 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (19) (Korobov, Connolly), 8:18 (PP)
SYR DiSalvatore, (11) (Marchessault, Mormina), 16:09 (PP)
WBS Kobasew, (10) (Machacek, Dumoulin), 7:28 (PP)
WBS- Zlobin, Machachek
Syracuse remains stuck at 1 game under .500 with 5 games left in their season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Never say die.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the OT win. The goal support came late, but whenever it comes it's always a beautiful thing.
SYR Paradis, (5) (Namestnikov, Mormina), 7:16
UTI O'Reilly, (4) , 12:26 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (5) (Korobov, DiSalvatore), 16:44 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (5) (Lain), 11:39
UTI Friesen, (6) (Biega, Welsh), 18:27 (PP)
UTI Kennedy, (1) (O'Reilly), 9:44
UTI Welsh, (5) (Friesen, Sauve), 10:49
SYR Namestnikov, (18) (Paradis, Paquette), 18:21
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Connolly, Gourde), 18:52 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Paquette, Angelidis), 19:07 (SH)
SYR Connolly, (19) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 2:36
You could watch 76 AHL games a year for the rest of your life and not see what happened tonight again. In pro hockey, having a 3 goal deficit at anytime in the Third Period should be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes left in the Third Period should absolutely be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes and having a man in the box for most of that time really, really should be a death sentence. The Syracuse Crunch scored 3 straight extra attacker goals late in the Third Period tonight to force Overtime. Two of those goals were technically shorthanded. Coach Gordon Bombay just called from Hollywood and even he thinks the plot tonight was implausible and ludicrous. That is not supposed to happen. Ever. There must not be a rock big or heavy enough for Utica to crawl under right now, because Syracuse bent the laws of time and space to find a way to win that game tonight. Wow.
With the win, Syracuse moves to 1 game under .500 with 6 left to play. After winning tonight the way they did, who in their right mind would bet against them to get on the right side of .500 before the year's complete?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Comeback Crunch start a positive streak for a change.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Since returning from the Olympics, Gudlevskis is 4-2-1 with 1 SO, a 1.97 GAA, and a .934 save percentage. Suffice it to say he's really taken off since that amazing performance against Canada in Sochi.
STJ Albert, (20) (MacKinnon), 4:14
STJ Chiarot, (5) (Gordon, Samson), 16:23
SYR Connolly, (18) (Smith, Angelidis), 0:32
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Paquette, Namestnikov), 2:43 (PP)
SYR Sergeev, (3) (Namestnikov), 17:28 (SH)
Artem Sergeev, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. Now at 42 points in 46 games, Namestnikov has doubled his point production from a season ago when he had 21 points in 44 games. As with Gudlevskis' numbers, his continued production is impressive given how the rest of the roster has obviously labored a bit this season.
This was a far more impressive result than the 3-0 shutout of Adirondack given the IceCaps reside in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games over .500 for the season. This is a result that gives you far more hope that this winning streak can actually be sustained.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The pieces start to fit together?
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. He gave his team a chance, holding them to within 2 of the Sens going into the final frame before the offense ramped up and delivered him some precious goal support.
BNG Prince, (17) , 3:15 (PP)
BNG Puempel, (22) (Da Costa), 14:35 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (16) (Namestnikov, Gudlevskis), 8:18 (PP)
BNG Da Costa, (14) (Puempel, Stone), 12:40
SYR Paradis, (3) (Sergeev, Angelidis), 7:42 (PP)
SYR Connolly, (14) (Labrie, Angelidis), 12:59
SYR Namestnikov, (17) (Marchessault, Connolly), 17:18
Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Connolly, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. Today also marked the first point for new acquisition Jonathan Marchessault and the team also announced the signing of 22 year old left wing Yanni Gourde, who was a point a game player for Worchester in 25 games this season before being cut loose by the Sharks. Gourde and Marchessault, like Conacher and Johnson before them, fit the mold of undersized, skilled, and inexpensive prospects the Lightning have had huge success cultivating. Both should figure prominently into the rebuilding of the Crunch next season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.