Lightning blow out Sabres 2-1.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory. His stop on Grigorenko on a 2-on-1 in the Second Period allowed the Lightning to turn the momentum after the Sabres' lone goal into a tidal wave that eventually overcame Neuvirth's exceptional effort at the other end of the rink.
3:51 TB Filppula (8), (Callahan, Paquette)
0:50 BUF McCormick (1), (Kaleta)(SH)
14:42 TB Stamkos (22), (Drouin, Killorn)
The Lightning outshot the Sabres 47-21 in the contest, and the final 39 minutes of this game were about as lopsided a game as you'll ever see in your life. The Lightning lived in the Sabres zone, throwing wave after wave of chances at the Buffalo net in a scene reminiscent of the old Lightning/Panthers games you used to see in the early '00's. Eventually, though, Neuvirth's nine lives ran out and the Lightning got the "W" that they richly deserved.
And remember, folks, Bobby "The Chief" Taylor says, "Ice is like great whiskey, it has to be aged and cured." Stick that in your flask.
Cedric Paquette had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 14:25. He started Filppula's goal with some good board work and had a rugged night where he gave and took with the Sabres throughout the night. His most high-profile moment, though, was a SH breakaway in the Third Period with the game tied 1-1 that Neuvirth got a piece of and steered off the outside of the goalpost and out.
Jonathan Drouin had 1 assist, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 15:06. I though his line was a revelation tonight, and it's fitting Killorn/Stamkos/Drouin got the game winner. They could've had a half dozen goals tonight if Neuvirth had been the slightest bit human. It will be interesting to see if the momentum that group gained tonight carries forward against better opposition.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 4 shots in 14:34. My goodness he had such a good game helping the Lightning press the attack... right up until that clunker of a shift with the game tied 1-1 in the Third Period where he made a blind turnover that led to zone time for Buffalo and Nesterov eventually taking the tripping call. He should thank Bishop and the PK'ers for picking him up there. That little oops aside, though, if Nesterov's night translates against better opposition, the Lightning may have found a significant silver lining in Radko Gudas' knee injury.
Khanty-Mansiysk 3 vs. Novokuznetsk 1
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 39 GP, 14-8-22, +4, 10 PIM
Nikita Gusev assisted on the game opening goal and had a team high 6 shots on goal in Yugra's 3-1 win over Novokuznetsk. Gusev played 16:59 in the match. Ex-Habs 2nd rounder Ben Maxwell had the eventual game winner for Yugra. For comparison purposes, Maxwell has 10 goals and 22 points in 33 games this season.
Mytischi 2 vs. Zagreb 3
Dmitry Korobov, Mytischi, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 29 GP, 1-6-7, +2, 47 PIM
Dmitry Korobov was scoreless in 19:55 in Mytischi's 3-2 loss to Zagreb. Ex-Lightning forward Brandon Segal had 1 goal and 1 assist to lead the way for Zagreb. Undrafted 21 year old (right handed) defenseman Albert Yarullin had his 3rd goal on the season on the power play in the contest. Yarullin has 3 goals and 7 points in 12 games since joining Mytischi. Yarullin was a teammate of current Lightning players Nikita Nesterov and Nikita Kucherov on Russia's 2012-2013 U20 WJC team where he had 3 goals and 5 points in 7 games as one of the team's assistant captains.
Dinamo Minsk 2 vs. Bratislava 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, DNP
Season totals: 24 GP, 6-12-5, 2 SO, 2.93 GAA, .893 sv%
Jaroslav Janus sat backup to Flyers farmhand Johan Backlund in Slovan's 3-2 shootout loss to Minsk. Ex-Springfield forward Ryan Vesce had 1 goal and 1 assist and converted on his lone shootout attempt to lead the way for Zagreb.
Lightning open a Third Period can of beat down.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 11 shots (not a typo) for the victory. He made a handful of key saves while the game was tight and the only goal he did allow was a point shot that deflected off of Hedman's stick and took a crazy bounce in on net.
7:48 TB Carle (4), (Palat)
12:33 BUF Ennis (9), (Zadorov, Moulson)(PP)
19:02 TB Palat (9), (Johnson, Kucherov)(PP)
5:20 TB Connolly (7), (Stralman, Palat)
8:40 TB Kucherov (16), (Johnson, Stralman)
18:05 TB Kucherov (17), (Palat, Johnson)
The Lightning, for about 30 minutes, didn't look like they wanted to be in Buffalo (well, yeah). In the Third Period, they outshot Buffalo 14-1 and absolutely dismantled the young Sabres. It was a clinic put on by the triplets line to put 2014 to bed the right way.
Now, here's the interesting part: the Lightning now have 11 points in this 10-game segment of the season with 1 more game to play. Despite all their struggles this month, they may still hit 12 points over this 10-game stretch, and at a minimum, they'll have 4 insurance points heading into the second half of the campaign. Nice.
Jonathan Drouin had 1 shot in 14:08.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 in 15:02 in his NHL debut. He made a key play breaking up a 2-on-1 that nearly resulted in a goal at the other end when Stamkos hit a crossbar. In all, he wasn't noticeable, but that's a positive for a rookie d-man.
The yak is still on the loose.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 24 shots he faced for the victory and his first shutout of the campaign. He's won his last 4 starts allowing just 3 total goals in the last 3 of those starts, while running his season save percentage back up to .906 in the process. Now things get very interesting in Syracuse, once Vasilevskiy returns, because this is what we expected coming into the year. These are two of the best prospect netminders around, and they'll be in a knock-down, drag-out for starts all season long. The competition is going to push both guys to play better than they ever thought possible. It's going to be great to see unfold.
SYR Richard, (5) (Koekkoek), 2:12
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Nesterov, Marchessault)
Gudlevskis and Tanner Richard were the game's first and second stars. As of this posting, Richard's +18 mark is second best in the AHL behind the +21 of Manchester's Nick Shore. I should also point out that, on top of the game winning helper he had tonight, Nikita Nesterov hasn't had a minus game in a full month, when he had a -1 outing on 11/19 against Hartford. He's been +9 since that game, taking him up to +9 for the year. He was -2 last year and the 13 points he has in 28 games this season is 3 off the 16 he posted as a rookie in 54 games last season. So, like Richard, here's a player who had some holes in his game who seems to be rounding the corner a bit. Nice to see. Slater Koekkoek, oh by the way, has helpers in 3 of the last 4 games.
Tomorrow, Syracuse draws Albany at home.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 26 shots he faced for his second straight shutout. He's now 7-3-3 with 2 SO, a 2.44 GAA, and a .914 sv%. He's given up a whopping 1 goal in his last 3 starts, and with Gudlevskis struggling Andrei now appears to clearly be the #1 goaltender in Syracuse.
SYR Nesterov, (3) (Angelidis, Namestnikov), 18:01
SYR Blunden, (3) , 19:13 (EN)
Box score from TheAHL.com.