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.
Lightning leave another 2 points out on the road.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss. No way to sugar coat it: he let the team down tonight. The GWG by Erik Johnson is a softie that simply cannot happen at that juncture of the game. Ever. Certainly it's outside of the norm for Ben this season, but that's frustrating.
16:49 TB Pyatt (2), (Purcell, Salo)
17:19 COL Barrie (8), (Stastny, MacKinnon)
19:01 COL O'Reilly (23), (Parenteau, Duchene)
6:40 TB Thompson (7), (Kostka, Carle)
17:37 TB Thompson (8), (Kostka)
5:12 COL Holden (5), (O'Reilly, Duchene)(PP)
16:05 COL Johnson (8), (unassisted)
19:06 COL Holden (6), (Talbot)(EN)
19:53 COL Stastny (19), (MacKinnon, Landeskog)(EN)
That's upsetting. That's 3-4 points, between this game and the Nashville game, that the Lightning could've easily had that they squandered. Take a look at the standings and you'll see that's the difference between the current 5 point lead on the last team out of the playoffs and an 8-9 point cushion. That's a big, big difference. Self-inflicted sloppiness and bad goaltending dealt the fatal wounds tonight. I didn't think they had a great chance coming into this game with Filppula not returning, but they put themselves in position to win and they should've gotten not less than a point out of this one. That hurts.
Mike Kostka had 2 assists and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 12:11. Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 with 3 shot and 1 hit and he was 55% on draws in 8:40. I'm shocked to see he only had 8:40 of ice time, as that was a very active 8:40 of ice time with multiple scoring opportunities and some very active work in the offensive zone. He's really settled in now, although that might be all for nothing because with Filppula and Stamkos coming back this week, it's no secret Vladdy's probably going back down.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:35. He had the tying goal on his stick on the PP down 4-3 off a glorious setup from Marty and he shot it wide. He's missing these critical chances by fractions of inches in key times, and I'm starting to worry about his psyche, because his confidence level as a sniper is being seriously tested right now.
Lightning manufacture a huge win in Dallas.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 41 shots for the victory. He might want the Fidler goal back, but there's little doubt he was THE reason the Lightning won this afternoon.
1:25 TB St Louis (28), (Brewer, Palat)
12:09 TB Thompson (6), (Hedman, Killorn)
14:31 TB St Louis (29), (Palat)
15:50 DAL Roussel (10), (Connauton, Fiddler)
18:11 DAL Fiddler (4), (Roussel, Garbutt)
7:12 TB Salo (2), (Hedman, Killorn)
Bishop and Martin St. Louis were the game's first and third stars.
As the game wore on, the contours of the contest took on a hauntingly similar look to the Nashville game. I thought the Lightning did a pretty good job of trying to press for the goal to get to 3-0 and weren't that bad through the first 5-6 minutes of the Second Period, but everything went sideways after that. Once Roussel got the greasy goal to make it 3-1, Dallas just took over the game and only some good individual efforts by the likes of St. Louis, Palat, and Salo really allowed the Lightning to get 2 points (on top of Bishop raising the deflector shields). If you're looking for another silver lining, though, it's that the PK stood up and didn't disintegrate this afternoon the way it did against the Predators. Mind you, they weren't perfect and Bishop had to erase some big errors, but they didn't allow Dallas nearly the zone time and chances they gave the Preds.
If you look at the standings, you'll see why this was such a big win. They get back on par with Montreal for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division and reopen a 6 point gap on Washington for the last team out in the Eastern Conference. At 73 points after 60 games they're 1 point ahead of the pace they need to be on to comfortably make the playoffs. They didn't hit the target of 12 points for the last 10 game segment and had to burn off 2 of the 3 insurance points they had stored up, but at least they didn't fall off schedule for the first time this year. Now, they have to keep manufacturing wins somehow until Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos can get settled back into the lineup and, in particular, until Stammer can get the rust knocked off.
Mike Kostka had 2 hits and 5 blocked shots in 8:42. He, unfortunately, had the Roussel goal go in off of his skate, but he wasn't awful. He makes a better option than Cote or Taormina and probably Aulie, too.
J.T. Brown as -1 with 2 shots in 14:35. He did some really good work on the forecheck with the Lightning clinging to their lead. Today was his 41st game of the season, so he has graduated from prospect status on the site.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot and was 50% on draws in 9:08. I think you saw a marked step forward in Namesy's comfort level today, and he had some dangerous rushes with his speed in the First and Second Periods. I don't know that I trust him yet defensively, but he at least looked more like an NHLer today than he did against Nashville.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots in 12:15. The SunSports team was praising his defense in this game, but I thought this was a subpar game for Kucherov in that respect. He really had problems moving the puck out of the Lightning zone within the last 10 feet before the blueline. That's something that will make coaches want to strangle you.