Nesterov, Nikita

NHL Game Night: 2-8-16 Lightning at Senators

Costly clunker in Canada's capital.

TB-1
OTT-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He wasn't at fault for the L, but his softie in the Second Period essentially ended the game by allowing Ottawa to build the 3 goal lead.

First Period
5:23 OTT Smith (11), (Stone)
16:51 OTT Prince (3), (unassisted)
17:25 TB Brown (6), (Coburn, Callahan)

Second Period
4:41 OTT Stone (15), (Pageau, Zibanejad)(PP)
10:46 OTT Stone (16), (Ceci, Pageau)

Third Period
15:22 OTT Pageau (13), (unassisted)

The Lightning came out flat tonight and never, ever got their legs underneath them. They were consistently beaten to loose pucks and they turned over the puck far too much. They deserved to be run out of the rink tonight, and they eventually were. When you fail to respect the game and your opponent, this is the end result. The bigger problem, though, is Jason Garrison missed the last two periods of the game with a lower body injury. Short of Ben Bishop getting injured, an injury to one of the team's top-four defensemen is one of the losses the team simply doesn't have the depth to cope with. It's pretty clear that the team doesn't have faith in Matt Carle anymore and they shouldn't have faith in Sustr and Nesterov moving up in minutes from the niches they're in, either. At a certain point, I really hope they start getting Slater Koekkoek more NHL experience for just this type of problem. I'd hate this to happen in the playoffs and Slater still be completely wet behind the ears.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 18:25. He did have 4 shot attempts, but honestly, if you weren't named "J.T. Brown" you want to burn the tape tonight if you were in a Lightning jersey.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-5-16 Penguins at Lightning

Lightning weather flat start to double-up Pens.

PIT-3
TB-6

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the victory. He made a handful of difficult saves in the First Period to keep the Lightning in the game, and once they had the lead he made the situational saves necessary to make sure they got the win.

First Period
4:53 PIT Hornqvist (11), (Kunitz, Pouliot)
11:50 TB Stralman (7), (Johnson, Killorn)
18:34 TB Killorn (9), (Johnson, Kucherov)

Second Period
6:04 TB Palat (5), (Stamkos)(SH)
8:04 PIT Crosby (21), (Kunitz, Hornqvist)
9:15 TB Johnson (7), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Third Period
0:55 PIT Cullen (6), (Kessel)
15:55 TB Palat (6), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)
17:56 TB Stralman (8), (Callahan)

Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Steven Stamkos were the game's three stars.

The Lightning came out in this game not matching Pittsburgh's intensity and were very lucky to get away with it. Make no mistake about it. The Pens needed this game more than the Lightning and they came out and played the First Period that way. They got the early 1-0 lead and could've racked up a big lead were it not for Ben Bishop. He made a handful of key saves that allowed the Lightning to hang around until the Pens defense made a coverage mistake on Stralman's first goal that allowed them to get their legs under them and tilt the game in their favor. The Lightning controlled the bulk of the play from there, but just couldn't seem to expand their leads out to the final 3-goal margin until they got the late EN goal by Stralman.

The way they tilted the game was the most impressive thing about the win. They got balanced scoring with 3 goals from Johnson's group, 2 goals from Stamkos', and then the EN goal. At no point last season did the Lightning have 2 balanced scoring lines. If they can establish that in the final ~30 games of the regular season, they'll be frightful to play against. And, of course, special teams was the huge difference tonight. Stamkos did outstanding work on his PK shift in the Second Period helping to repel multiple efforts by the Pens before eventually springing Palat for his sweet SH breakaway goal. That goal and Tyler Johnson's PP goal were obviously the margin tonight.

It's a good way to start this 10-game set of the season, and they're on to Ottawa.

Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot and 4 hits in 16:50. He had one shift where he pinched deep into the corner of the Pens zone to win a puck race and absolutely dominated Sidney Crosby once he was onto it. I admit, I was surprised he was that stout on the puck and that he was able to have those kind of handles against Crosby.

Hey, look, I found the box score and extended statistics on the new NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-3-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Back on schedule.

DET-1
TB-3

Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory. He didn't face a ton of great chances, but what he did do was handle the puck very well to help himself out and he was out on his angle well all night.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
1:23 TB Brown (5), (Coburn)
5:06 DET Nyquist (14), (Tatar, Quincey)
6:30 TB Johnson (6), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Third Period
3:23 TB Kucherov (21), (Palat)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Bishop were the game's three stars.

That was a remarkably workmanlike effort by the Lightning. Even in the First Period, where the Red Wings had a decent shot advantage, I didn't think the Lightning were on their heels or chasing the play. They seemed to be first on the puck a lot and their only problems were self-inflicted mistakes rather than the Wings asserting themselves. The Lightning ultimately took control of the game in the Second Period and built the margin they needed with two power play goals earned by the pressure they were putting on the Red Wings with their speed and possession. They got a little bit complacent for about a 5-6 minute span after a PK that followed the Kucherov goal, but all-in-all that was a pretty clinical effort against a Red Wings team that gave them all they could handle in the playoff last year.

As an aside, NBCSN can sell that line of Callahan/Filppula/Brown as "the best third line in hockey," all the want, but no one's buying. We're not blind. We can read a stat sheet, and the number of zeros behind Callahan and Filppula's salaries on the NHLPA's website, while we're at it. C'mon, guys.

The win puts the Lightning at 60 points through 50 games of the season, meaning that by virtue of their 9-1-0 record for this 10-game segment of the season they're back on track to make the playoffs comfortably. They fell behind the eight ball in the second 10-game segment of the year when they fell 5 points off the pace, and they eventually fell 6 points off after 40 games, but they're now back on track if you follow the goal of getting at least 12 points every 10 games. Now we'll see if the Lightning can stay ahead of the chains the rest of the way and into the postseason.

Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 16:57 of ice time. I give him credit for forcibly picking Nyquist up off of Bishop and making an example of him.

Box score from NHL.com (which has a new format that is AWFUL).

NHL Game Night: 1-27-16 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Let loose the kittens!

TOR-0
TB-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout victory. He didn't have much work early, and was kicking some long rebounds out in the First and Second Period, but he got progressively stronger as the game wore on. He positively stood on his head in the Third Period to secure the 2 points for his team. He was much, much better positionally compared to his previous 2-3 outings.

First Period
4:38 TB Stamkos (21), (Stralman, Filppula)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Vasilevskiy and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and third stars.

The first 15 minutes of this game were an absolutely clinic by the Lightning as they outshot Toronto 16-1 and outscored them 1-0. They could've easily run the Leafs out of the barn from the word jump were it not for a really strong effort by Jonathan Bernier. Things degraded from there for the Lightning, who were less assertive shooting the puck in the Second Period and started looking timid and started short-arming passes in the Third Period because of the physical style Toronto was playing. They allowed Toronto to intimidate them a bit and they were back on their heels a lot of the final frame. Fortunately, Vasilevskiy only needed the one goal.

The Lightning have gotten 16 of a possible 18 points so far in this 10-game segment of the season with 1 more game left to go. A win will put the Lightning at even for the year in the old "12 in 10" model, which prescribes earning 12 points every 10 games to make the playoffs comfortably. Considering 9 games ago the Lightning looked like a longshot to make the postseason, it's a great spot to be in heading into the All-Star Break. The team just needs to hope that any momentum they've gained doesn't dissipate with the time off.

Jonathan Marchessault had 1 shot in 13:35.

Nikita Nesterov had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:09.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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