Third Period choke.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 21 shots. Really, it was 4 goals on 8 shots in the Third Period. Not good.
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Wyman, Oberg), 1:39
SYR Johnson, (21) , 19:48
ALB Whitney, (12) (Anderson), 4:03
ALB Parse, (1) (Gelinas, Anderson), 10:32 (PP)
ALB Anderson, (9) (McKelvie, Zajac), 12:01
ALB Sestito, (7) (Sislo, Wiseman), 17:40
SYR Johnson, (22) (Connolly), 19:38
Evan Oberg was the game's third star. Remember Evan Oberg? 5 points in 33 games is almost unthinkable considering how productive and active he was last season.
What an epic melt down. At least the Crunch finally got Tyler Johnson off the side of the milk carton.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Evan Oberg to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. That leaves just goaltenders Anders Lindback and Jaroslav Janus as the team's only remaining unsigned restricted free agents. Recently acquired forward Benoit Pouliot also remains unsigned, but was not qualified by the team and now has unrestricted free agent status. Pouliot is expected to sign with the Lightning amid multiple reports from team and agent indicating that deal would be done.
Oberg, 24, played in three games with the Lightning last season, recording a plus-2 rating. He was acquired by the Lightning with Mike Kostka from the Florida Panthers on December 2 in exchange for James Wright and Mike Vernace. He made his Lightning debut on January 24 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oberg has skated in seven career NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks and Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they had extended qualifying offers to five of their eight pending restricted free agents. Defensemen Keith Aulie, Brian Lee, Brendan Mikkelson, and Evan Oberg along with goaltender Jaroslav Janus received the required offers to guarantee the Bolts retain exclusive rights to these players. It is expected that Tampa will come to terms with contract extensions with these five players sometime during the summer.
Recently required goaltender Anders Lindback received a qualifying offer from the Nashville Predators prior to his trade to the Lightning last week.
Defenseman Sebastien Piche and forward Benoit Pouliot were not tendered qualifying offers, and will be unrestricted free agents on July 1. Pouliot was acquired Saturday from the Boston Bruins during the 2012 NHL Draft, and is expected to sign an extension with the Bolts prior to start of the NHL free agency signing period on Sunday. Pouliot has arbitration rights as a pending restricted free agent, and the Lightning's decision not to qualify Pouliot is speculated as a means to circumvent Pouliot electing player arbitration later this summer.
Piche was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the Kyle Quincey/First Round Pick trade. The Red Wings needed a spot in their 50-man roster and Piche was sent to Tampa Bay. He was one of the leaders for the ECHL Florida Everblades as they won the Kelly Cup. The writing was on the wall for Piche's future when the third year pro was not recalled to Norfolk following the conclusion of Florida's season.
As uncertain as things have traditionally been for the Lightning between the pipes, the defenseman position may be even more unsettled at this point in the offseason. After cheating father time for much of the 2011-2012 season, age caught up to many of the Lightning's veteran defensemen in 2012-2013. Mattias Ohlund may never play another NHL game after the 35 year old's knee finally gave out after over 900 games of NHL service.
It's been a day since the Norfolk Admirals hoisted the Calder Cup for the first time. The amazing thing about championships is that they're a shared milestone in the lives of, really, thousands, between the players, coaches, staff, and fans. Those journeys often contain compelling stories that make the triumph worth that journey. For Jon Cooper, it was about closing down his law practice to coach his way from Michigan high school hockey, to the USHL to working with Hockey USA, to a 2 season sprint to glory in the AHL. For Cory Conacher, it was about not being drafted and playing hockey at off-the-beaten path Canisius, dealing with diabetes, and earning an NHL contract in March of an MVP season before posting 4 assists in the championship clinching Calder Cup Finals game.
The stories of the players and the coaches are the ones we'll read about in the coming months and years, and they should be. When the Lightning made their Stanley Cup run in 2003-2004 and were playing the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals, John Tortorella refused to fire back at Ken Hithcock's remarks about "Italians from Boston," because Torts rightfully understood, "It's about the athletes." Ultimately, they're the ones who score the goals and make the saves. They sacrifice their bodies and take the stitches and they take the slings and arrows if they lose. Ultimately, it's their moment, and to a lesser extent the moments of their families who supported them in the journey up to those moments. The hockey moms and dads who woke up at 6:00 am to drive their kids to games. Scratching together money for skates and ridiculously expensive composite sticks. The wives and significant others who live with the players and coaches through the disappointments and the frustrations, and live in fear of moments when things can go wrong, like when slap shots can hit a man in the ear at 90 miles an hour, similar to what happened to Scott Jackson.
Less compelling, perhaps, is the story of an organization, but, these are stories can be worth telling, too... especially in this case. We started beta testing Bolt Prospects in 2004-2005, one year after the Lightning's Cup win, in the heart of the NHL lockout. That year was also the first year since the Detroit Vipers of the IHL folded after the 2000-2001 season that the Lightning had a full-time minor league affiliate: the Springfield Falcons. Absent a full-time affiliate, it became clear the Lightning would struggle to maintain their spot on top of the hockey mountain, because split affiliates would not give prime ice time and coaching help to another organization's players. That problem prompted the start of an 8 year process for the Lightning that ended in building what must be considered the sport's preeminent developmental apparatus with the Norfolk Admirals' Calder Cup championship and the Florida Everblades' Kelly Cup Championship.
Opportunistic Lightning beat Habs, flu virus.
Mathieu Garon was stellar in stopping 23 of 24 for the victory.
TB Stamkos (44), (Purcell, St. Louis), 8:42
MTL Desharnais (13), (unassisted), 16:02
TB Hall (2), (Malone, Wyman), 0:28
Granted, Montreal's abysmal right now, but with all the new pieces and the wholesale call-ups because half the team had the flu, this game could've very easily gotten out of hand the other way. Games are played on ice, not on paper, though, and the Lightning continue to tease us enough to hold our interest. The team moved to within 5 points of 8th place, which is now held by Washington as the Caps hopped Winnipeg with a win tonight. There's still a lot of head-to-head games against teams directly in front of the Lightning. Hope springs.
Trevor Smith had 1 blocked shot in 14:41.
J.T. Wyman had an assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 16:19.
Evan Oberg had 3 shots and 1 hit in 16:44.
Mike Angelidis had 1 shot in 5:19.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had a fight and 2 hits in 4:37.
Still the pound for pound champ...
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 22 shots in the victory. He made a few good stops at key times in the game to make sure the Lightning stayed in the game.
NJ Ponikarovsky (12), (unassisted), 12:07
TB St. Louis (20), (Stamkos, Garon), 6:39
TB St. Louis (21), (Purcell, Stamkos)(PP), 14:55
NJ Sykora (15), (Bernier, Zubrus), 2:28
TB Gilroy (2), (St. Louis, Purcell), 3:09
TB St. Louis (22), (Purcell, Brewer), 10:18
NJ Parise (23), (Kovalchuk, Elias)(PP), 17:25
Martin St. Louis and Ted Purcell were the game's first and second stars. For Marty, that's 9 straight 20+ goal seasons. While it's not as long a streak as Vincent Lecavalier's, a lot of the same praise applies to Marty. He played the bulk of his career in an era where mugging players was legal, and the amount of training and preparation work he had to put in to stay healthy enough to have 9 straight seasons of 20 goals is why he's arguably the most respected player in the NHL. It's especially true when you consider his size. Think of how hard he's had to work to maintain durability when he's the smallest player on the rink most nights. Truly impressive.
For Purcell, who had a slow first half, that's 18 points in his last 13 games. Will next year be the year he puts it together for a full 82 games and becomes a superstar? He was awesome in the playoffs last season and he's been awesome in the stretch run of this season, so far. If he dedicates to play a full 82 like this, he'll be an All-Star.
Today's game was indicative of the kind of style of game the Lightning have to embrace to win now that the bench has been shortened up by trades and injuries. They've got to play opportunistic, which means the goaltender's got to make saves to keep the team in the game, and the team's got to bury the chances they get when they come along, especially on the power play. That's the formula, and it's really the New Jersey formula, ironically. They're not going to run anyone over with talent. They've got to manufacture wins the hard way.
Tampa Bay crawls back to within 6 points of 8th place Winnipeg with 2 games in hand on the Jets. The Lightning really have to still be a little sick about that 4-3 loss in Winnipeg. A W there and the team would be sitting 3 points out of 8th and 4 points out of the division lead (pending the outcome of the Panthers' game). Finding ways to win those 4-point games is going to make or break the season. They can't afford to lose anymore of them.
Tim Wallace had 3 hits in 6:33.
Trevor Smith was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in 10:37.
J.T. Wyman had 1 hit in 11:49.
Evan Oberg was +1 with 1 hit in 11:25. The ramblin' man, making it happen.
Mike Angelidis had 1 shot and 2 hits in 7:29.
Pray for the rest of the AHL if the Lightning ever get healthy enough to send some of these guys back to Norfolk.
The Admirals tie a winning streak record from the heady days of Head Coach Jim Johnson. 8 straight wins for Norfolk, even as the Lightning call up several of their players.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced for the victory. From the, "no way that can be right," file: Janus (pictured) is 3-0-1 against Hershey this season. Bear in mind Hershey is the second highest scoring team in the AHL behind just Norfolk. And, yet, they tremble before the might and power of Jaroslav Janus between the pipes.
NOR Barberio, (8) (Dimmen, Conacher), 2:21
NOR Ouellet, (11) (Picard, Kostka), 15:58 (PP)
HER Pope, (5) (Mink, Carman), 17:07
HER Bourque, (25) (Eakin, Mink), 0:16 (PP)
NOR Segal, (15) (Ouellet, Picard), 1:29
HER Greentree, (4) (Potulny, Bourque), 13:19 (PP)
NOR Segal, (16) (Barberio, Panik), 16:35 (PP)
After assisting on Segal's game winning goal, prospect Richard Panik took a rather nasty slash to the leg by Kyle Greentree that sent him to the dressing room. Panik attacked, y'all? Expect that issue to be cleaned up Wednesday when the Ads play the Bears for the last time this season.
Defenseman Evan Oberg was a healthy scratch and may be on his way to join the Lightning after Victor Hedman's injury earlier this afternoon. One thing we know, this is a man who will not pull a Nikita Alexeev and miss his flight, if that's the case.
Tonight went as well as possible for the Admirals, as they not only opened up a 6 point lead on the Bears, but with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins losing to Syracuse tonight, they also have moved 2 points ahead of the Penguins to claim uncontested hold of the top spot in the division. They've also tied St. John's for the most points in the Eastern Conference, although the Ice Caps hold 3 games in hand on the Admirals.
Norfolk draws the Pens at the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex tomorrow, with the opportunity to open up a 4 point lead on the Pens and an 8 point lead on the idle Bears. With a name like the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex, you know the Admirals will be looking for the pay window.
Box score at TheAHL.com.
Norfolk gels quickly after a slow start in come-from-behind victory.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 35 shots for the win, including a penalty shot top on Andre Petterson. He didn't get a star for his efforts, but he absolutely gave his team a chance to win tonight. Tic moves to 24-11-0 on the season, tying Ben Bishop of Peoria for the league lead in wins with Bishop still in action tonight.
BNG Hoffman, (13) (Locke), 1:34
BNG Klinkhammer, (14) (Petersson, Gryba), 6:42 (PP)
NOR Segal, (14) (Picard, Oberg), 0:15
NOR Oberg, (5) , 6:27 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (13) (Johnson, Conacher), 19:30
Evan Oberg and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were the game's first and second stars. Oberg has 4 goals and 13 points in his last dozen games, and one can only speculate where he'd be in points had he not spent the better part of two months on a plane, waiting for a plane, or getting on and off a plane.
Veteran Brandon Segal (pictured) scored a goal in his first game back with the Admirals since his acquisition from the Blackhawks organization, once again reaffirming that Brandon Segal is Hard to Kill.
10 shots on goal tonight for Tyler Johnson. He didn't find the back of the net, but it darned sure wasn't for the lack of trying. He did get the primary assist on the game winner, though.
With the win, Norfolk moves back into a tie for the East Division lead at 71 points with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They also hold a 4 point lead now on the third place Hershey Bears with the Pens and Bears having burned all their games in hand, at the moment.
It gets REALLY interesting now. Norfolk goes into Hershey tomorrow night with the opportunity to put the Bears 6 points back, and on Sunday night they'll have a pivotal matchup with the Penguins. Remember, Norfolk would very much prefer to win their division than face the possibility of a 4/5 matchup against the Pens or Bears in the first round. The road to the Calder Cup would be significantly easier for the Ads if they secure the first or second seed in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And, Nacho kicks the extra point!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the victory. Much like Dwayne Roloson against the Sharks last night, here's a young man who loves his goal support. Despite his ugly save percentage on the night, by collecting his 23rd win of the year, Tic moved back into a tie with Peoria's Ben Bishop for the league lead in wins.
NOR Kostka, (8) (Johnson, Smith), 2:43 (SH)
SYR Holzapfel, (9) (Jacques, Caputi), 5:07 (PP)
SYR McMillan, (8) (Sexton, Carle), 9:37
NOR Johnson, (18) (Conacher, Fornataro), 16:11 (PP)
NOR Picard, (3) (Smith, Palat), 19:16 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (29) (Oberg, Barberio), 5:45
SYR Holzapfel, (10) (Gordon), 5:58
NOR Angelidis, (12) (Kostka), 9:57 (SH)
NOR Smith, (21) (Kostka, Oberg), 12:00 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (12) (Dimmen, Conacher), 13:00
SYR Schofield, (7) (Palmieri), 14:40
Mike Kostka and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars. Kostka, for the moment, sits in a tie for 5th amongst all defensemen at 31 points in 48 games. Mark Barberio still paces the field at 43 points in 51 games, and he's opened up a 4 point gap on second place.
Lost in the sizable shadow of Kostka and Barberio, though, has been the play of suitcase virtuoso Evan Oberg (pictured). He now has 16 points in 33 games this season, but the bulk of those points have come recently. He has 10 points in his last 10 contests, which is impressive while pulling dual duty in between his role as the Mayor of Concourse B at Norfolk International Airport.
Ondrej Palat has 5 points in his last 4 games. Impressive, but Tyler Johnson raised Palat with 7 points over the same span. It took nearly 5 months, but Johnson has run down fellow rookie Carter Ashton in both points and goals. The two are now knotted up at 18 goals a piece and TJ's now moved 1 point ahead of Ashton at 35 for the season.
Lapping the entire field of rookies, league-wide, is phenom Cory Conacher. His 29 goals and 60 points are 4th amongst all scorers, and his tally tonight moved him out of a 3-way tie for the top spot in goals. Consider the possibilities, Lightning fans. The organization could have the goal scoring champions at both the NHL and AHL levels in the same season. That's quite the feather in the Lightning's cap.
Norfolk's victory allows them to keep pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the top spot in the East Division, and by virtue of Hershey losing a 6-0 decision to Providence, they've opened up a 3 point lead on the third place Bears. Winning the East Division looks like it may be CRITICAL to the Admirals' chances come the playoffs. They want to avoid a possible 4/5 matchup against the Bears or Penguins in the first round and get a less experienced club from the Atlantic or Northeast in the first round, instead.
The Admirals rematch Syracuse tomorrow. As always, we stress how difficult it is to beat the same team on back-to-back nights, especially when you thump them the first night. Let's see if Norfolk has learned that lesson yet.
Box score from TheAHL.com.