Peca, Matthew

NHL Game Night: 12-31-16 Hurricanes at Lightning

Lightning get key, clinical win.

CAR-1
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 22 shots for the win. After stealing the point against Toronto, he might be due to go on a little hot streak here.

First Period
7:35 TB Boyle (10), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
19:50 TB Drouin (11), (Kucherov, Palat)(PP)

Second Period
13:22 TB Killorn (12), (Peca, Hedman)
15:20 CAR Aho (7), (Slavin, Teravianen)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Jonathan Drouin, Vasilevskiy, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

With points at a premium after lacking the gas to deal appropriately with Toronto, the Lightning made sure they took care of business against a beatable Carolina club. It may have cost them Brian Boyle as the injury bug continues his rampage unabated, but the Lightning got another key win tonight. With 2 games left to play in this 10 game segment of the season, Tampa Bay needs 2 points to clinch a successful segment with the possibility of trimming 1-2 points off their season playoff pace deficit hanging out there as a real possibility.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 9:47.

Matthew Peca had a helper, his first NHL point, and was +1 with 2 hits in 12:05. He was also 50% on 8 draws. His style of game is helping to alleviate some of the stress from the injury to Brayden Point

Yanni Gourde was scoreless in 8:12.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-29-16 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Vasilarceny pilfers one point.

TOR-3
TB-2 (OT)

Andre Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the OT loss. Under siege most of the night, he turned in a plus performance to deliver the Lightning at least a single point.

First Period
14:46 TOR Matthews (18), (Hyman)

Second Period
9:26 TOR Bozak (7), (van Riemsdyk, Zaitsev)
12:12 TB Boyle (9), (Drouin, Sustr)
17:38 TB Palat (6), (Kucherov)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
3:37 TOR Kadri (13), (Nylander, Matthews)(PP)

Brian Boyle was the game's second star.

It's a young man's sport, and with both teams coming in on the latter half of a back-to-back, the youthful Leafs had the legs. The Lightning's fatigue started to kick in the second half of the Second Period and the team came completely unglued in the Third Period as tired legs began to manifest themselves in copious mental mistakes. Only Vasilevskiy's goaltending and a couple of opportunistic goals allowed the Lightning to pull out a point, which is still a positive result. If the Lightning can win 2 of the next 3, they'll succeed in at least hitting 12 points for this 10-game segment of the season. Given all the injuries over the past couple of weeks, simply not digging the hole deeper is a virtual win.

An aside about the goaltending interference call in OT. No chance. Filppula got a step around the corner and had the Leafs defender with his stick and one arm wrapped around his body turning him and the free hand pushing him from behind. If the roles had been reversed, there's no way the Leafs would've been called for goaltender interference on that play. No chance. It was complete baloney and ultimately took away a chance for the Lightning to steal the second point in this game.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 11:32.

Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 hit and was 45% on 11 draws in 13:52. He played on a kid line with Gourde all night with some spare power play time, so it was more of a checking/energy role tonight for Peca. He did decent, after a rough first few shifts that included a turnover and a bloodied nose.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot in 9:49. He was one of the few Lightning players with energy in the Third Period and had at least one key forechecking shift that made it possible for the Lightning to release some pressure and limp out of regulation with a point.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-28-16 Canadiens at Lightning

Lightning soar from the ashes for turning point victory.

MTL-3
TB-4 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the win. Let's be real: Vasilevskiy's teammates got him off the hook tonight. His puckhandling gaffe in the First Period is the kind of mistake that almost always ends up being the margin of losing in a game like this. Vasilevskiy worked very hard on his puckhandling and awareness around the cage in the offseason and showed glimmers of improvement early in the year, but he's slid back pretty hard in those areas recently. He's got to cut those soft and semi-soft goals that come from mistakes around the back of his cage out of his game. Immediately.

First Period
3:24 MTL Radulov (7), (Byron)
10:39 TB Johnson (10), (Kucherov, Palat)
13:31 MTL Weber (9), (Byron, Pacioretty)(PP)

Second Period
3:07 MTL Terry (2), (Carr, McCarron)

Third Period
11:14 TB Hedman (7), (Kucherov)
16:30 TB Palat (5), (Hedman, Point)(PP)

Overtime
1:36 TB Johnson (11), (Garrison, Vasilevskiy)

Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars.

This was a game where there were a lot of positive things being accomplished by the Lightning through the first 50 minutes of it, and yet it seemed the team was destined for tragedy nonetheless. They had a little rust in the First Period from so many guys returning from injury, but all in all they played Montreal pretty even and only Vasilevskiy's mistake was the margin that put them in a one goal hole. I thought they methodically took control of the game at even strength in the Second Period, but got an opportunistic counterattack goal scored on them after some great goaltending by Price, and heading into Second Intermission down two goals, things looked dire. For this team to find a way to scratch within one goal and get the tying goal on the power play when they absolutely had to have it may very well be the turning point of the season. They still have to follow this up with a result against Toronto tomorrow night, but at this hour you can see a little light at the end of the tunnel after a long, miserable last month and a half of dealing with injuries and inconsistency.

A brief note on the officiating in the Third Period. First, Shea Weber darn near killed Vladislav Namestnikov on a play where he pretty much lawn darted him head first into the boards crossing the Montreal blueline. Was it charging? Yes. Weber moved from the center of the ice all the way over to the boards with several strides with the intent of putting Namestnikov in a body bag. The only thing I think that mitigated the situation from an officiating standpoint is that Weber didn't gallop over there at full speed or leave his feet to land the hit. And, frankly, Namestnikov did a really poor job of protecting himself in that situation knowing Montreal has a few killers on their backline. Should there have been a call there? Yep. Game misconduct? I don't know about that. Supplemental discipline? If what DeHaan did to Drouin earlier this season didn't merit a suspension, I'm not sure you can make this case this does. DeHaan, from the high angle camera, clearly went in with an elbow to Drouin's head. Weber's hit was a hockey hit, albeit one executed with too many strides beforehand. I've seen guys get away with worse against the Lightning earlier this year, so I'm not sure Weber's going to get the book thrown at him for this, and I'm not sure I can muster the same level of outrage about this one as I can about those other calls. Second, the too many men call: Cooper and the coaching staff were being slick and nearly pulled it off sending Kucherov off the bench for the hop off breakaway, but I do think Boyle was too far away from the bench and I think that given the play did result in a breakaway the refs had to call it. If the situation had been reversed, I do think we'd be really upset if the other team got away with having a guy 15 feet from the bench on that play when his replacement hopped on. So, neither of those may be the popular opinions, but they're honest ones, at least. Now, would we have gotten that call if the roles were reversed given the latent pro-Montreal bias in the officiating corps? That's a debate for another night.

The Lightning HAD to have the win tonight. With Kucherov, Palat, and a partridge in a pear tree returning from injured reserve, and the standings math being what it is, they needed to get points out of this game. Thank goodness they pulled them out. When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. For the Lightning, that meant at least getting 12 points out of this 10 game segment of the season and not making the 4 point deficit behind playoff pace any worse. A loss tonight would've put the Lightning in the unenviable position of needing 7 out of 8 possible points over the next 4 games to make that meager goal possible. Now they just need 5 out of 8, which is very do-able, and you hope they can clinch that in the next 3 games and have that 4th game to try to "pay down the debt," so to speak, as they try to get their playoff hopes fully recovered. So, big win. Now whip Toronto and put yourselves in an even better position.

Brayden Point had a helper and was -2 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 19:33. He was also a gaudy 73% on 11 draws in the circles.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:31.

Matthew Peca had 1 shot and 2 hits and was 50% on 12 draws in 13:03 in his NHL debut. I was impressed. Truly. If there's one silver lining to Namestnikov getting his clock cleaned, it may be a little longer look at Peca. You saw some of the concerns with his game tonight, specifically where he got ragdolled off the puck a little because of his small size, but overall there's a lot to work with there because I think he's got such a wide ranging skill set. Coming out of Quinnipiac, he always displayed a lot more speed and creativity than he's shown consistently, in my opinion, in Syracuse. I think that's because he's been a very malleable player as a pro in that he will morph his game to suit the role and the linemates he's put together with. So, when he got an opportunity to play with speedy skilled players like Drouin, for instance, he was able to keep up. He showed his speed and his creativity on top of the fact that he is willing to at least get his nose dirty along the wall even if he may lose some battles because of his lack of size. He's a guy I can honestly see thriving anywhere you put him on the third or fourth line and he can even do spot duty, convincingly, on the second line. The ceiling's just a lot higher than Vermin or Richard or some of the other recent recalls, in my opinion, and that's why I'm pretty excited about what I saw tonight. I think his debut hints at some exciting possibilities and a guy who could be a leadership piece among the next wave of youngsters with half of Team Canada's WJC team seemingly coming into the organization starting next year to mix in with him.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-17-16 Crunch at Sound Tigers

Saturday night's alright for fighting.

SYR-5
BRI-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 13 shots before getting booted from the contest for fighting. Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 10 shots the rest of the way in cleanup duty to claim the rare bird that is the backdoor win.

First Period
14:01 SYR Hart (2), (Thomas, Peca)(PP)
14:47 SYR Gourde (8), (Brodeur, Bournival)
15:03 SYR Morin (4), (Dotchin, Taormina)

Second Period
9:24 BRI Gionta (1), (K. Jones, C. Jones)
14:05 BRI Pulock (1), (Toews, Kearns)
17:32 BRI Mayfield (2), (Kearns, St. Denis)
19:56 SYR Halmo (7), (Taormina, Gourde)

Third Period
5:53 SYR Comrie (2), (Taormina, Peca)(PP)

Matt Taormina and Matthew Peca were the game's first and second stars.

Syracuse scorched their way to a 3-0 lead in the First Period and looked completely in control until 9:25 of the Second Period when Stephen Gionta scored Bridgeport's first goal and the following insanity broke loose:

Quote:
09:24 SYR Jake Dotchin, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 SYR Jake Dotchin, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min
09:24 SYR Kristers Gudlevskis, Leaving the crease, 2 min
09:24 SYR Kristers Gudlevskis, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 SYR Kristers Gudlevskis, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min
09:24 SYR Daniel Walcott, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 SYR Daniel Walcott, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min
09:24 SYR Luke Witkowski, Slashing, 2 min PP
09:24 SYR Luke Witkowski, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 SYR Luke Witkowski, Misconduct - Continuing altercation, 10 min
09:24 BRI Patrick Cullity, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 BRI Patrick Cullity, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min
09:24 BRI Kellen Jones, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 BRI Kellen Jones, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min
09:24 BRI Scott Mayfield, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 BRI Stephon Williams, Leaving the crease, 2 min
09:24 BRI Stephon Williams, Fighting, 5 min
09:24 BRI Stephon Williams, Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, 10 min

And a good time was had by all. Syracuse blew the 3 goal lead but were able to eventually regain the winning edge with a late Second Period marker by Halmo.

Syracuse is now 4 points clear of the rest of the North Division in first place and 6 points back of the conference lead with games in hand.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-12-16 Americans at Crunch

Crunch put up a touchdown and an extra point.

RCH-2
SYR-7

Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 31 shots while drinking from the cool, clear waters of sweet, sweet goal support for the win.

First Period
2:46 SYR Peca (4), (Condra, Walcott)
12:07 RCH Geiger (1), (Nylander, Muzito-Bagenda)
17:04 SYR Richard (1), (Conacher, Gourde)

Second Period
5:09 SYR Gourde (4), (Morin, Masin)
19:00 SYR Vermin (3), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)

Third Period
9:04 RCH Muzito-Bagenda (2), (Strachan, Rodrigues)
12:28 SYR Erne (3), (Morin, Peca)
13:34 SYR Richard (2), (Conacher, Gourde)
19:36 SYR Richard (3), (Condra, Bournival)

Tanner Richard, Yanni Gourde, and Matthew Peca were the game's three stars. All hail Tanner Richard, your Dark Swiss Overlord of Garbage Time Hat Tricks. After a less than stellar training camp and difficult start to the season. Richard now has points in consecutive games and hopefully will take off from here. Also good to see youngsters like Peca and Adam Erne find the scoresheet. This is a veteran dominated team, but these talented youngsters are the ones who are going to push this team over the top. Also, congratulations to defenseman Dominik Masin on his first pro point.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-28-16 Crunch at Senators

Crunch hold off Senators rally to get back on track.

SYR-4
BNG-3

Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the victory.

First Period
1:59 SYR Erne (2), (Morin, Dotchin)
9:27 SYR Bournival (4), (Dumont, Condra)
15:15 BNG Stortini (1), (Bailey, Kostka)(PP)

Second Period
0:39 SYR Peca (3), (Vermin, Blujus)(PP)
1:04 SYR Dumont (4), (Ikonen, Walcott)
6:11 BNG McCormick (1), (Flanagan, Robinson)

Third Period
4:03 BNG Varone (1), (Dunn, O'Connor)

Gabriel Dumont and Matthew Peca were the game's first and second stars.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Peca Off to Fast Start in Second Pro Season


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Matthew Peca’s second goal looked like a replay of his first.

The center darted toward the crease and fired off a quick snap shot on a feed from behind the net to give Syracuse the lead late in the first period and added the eventual game-winner on a similar play midway through the second. Peca finished with three points on the weekend, as Syracuse swept a home-and-home series against Rochester to open the season.

Off to a fast start, Peca is looking to become more of an offensive threat in his second professional season.

“I think that’s the key in any situation,” Peca said. “You want to get the puck on and off your stick. We all work on that in practice. It’s good to see the first two go in. They were good plays — nice passes from (Cory) Conacher — and just one-touches.”

AHL Game Day: 10-16-16 Crunch at Americans

Goals! Goals! Goals!

SYR-6
RCH-3

Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the win, and then thanked Jobu for the sweet elixir of goal support.

First Period
5:31 RCH Rodrigues (1), (unassisted)
16:11 SYR Gourde (1), (Richard, Halmo)
19:14 SYR Peca (1), (Conacher)

Second Period
0:39 SYR Bournival (2), (Dotchin, Walcott)
10:26 SYR Peca (2), (Conacher, Erne)(PP)
13:31 RCH Strachan (1), (Bennett, Nylander)
15:14 SYR Conacher (1), (Vermin, Taormina)

Third Period
9:34 RCH Nylander (1), (O'Reilly)
16:06 SYR Vermin (2), (Condra, Richard)(PP)

Cory Conacher and Matthew Peca were the game's first and second star.

It's hard to lose when you're averaging 5 goals a game. Benoit Groulx must feel like he won the lottery after being tapped to coach this team.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 10-1-16 Lightning at Predators

Fourth game in five nights for the barnstorming Lightning.

TB-3
NSH-4

Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:54 TB Nesterov (1), (Filppula, Drouin)
19:25 NSH Fisher (1), (Neal, Subban)

Second Period
5:56 NSH Subban (1), (Ribeiro)(PP)
12:37 NSH Ribeiro (1), (Forsberg)(PP)
15:18 TB Filppula (1), (Bishop, Wisniewski)

Third Period
3:07 TB Conacher (1), (unassisted)
15:37 NSH Bass (1), (Neal)

I'm having flashbacks of when Koules and Barrie owned the team and they signed up for a zillion preseason games every year to try to make a little extra scratch because they were so strapped. That's not the case with Vinik, but this is just a lot of games and a lot of travel in the span of less than a week.

Centers
Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 14:20. He was also 46% on 13 draws.

Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:07. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Kind of interesting to see him play center rather than wing, which may be the better fit for him as a pro.

Wingers
Yanni Gourde had 1 hit in 12:16.

Jeremy Morin had 1 shot in 9:10.

Defensement
Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:13. I need to go back and add up all his ice time this week, but suffice it to say he might deserve some sort of iron man trophy. Tonight the Lightning decided to give him a full load after easing him in with the mid teens of minutes earlier in the week. 3 games in 5 nights is still a lot of work.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 11 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 14:12. Witkowski also deserves an iron man trophy of his own.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-29-16 Panthers at Lightning

Syracuse Crunch clamp down on Panthers B squad.

FLA-0
TB-2

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout victory. This is an excellent start for a netminder who just got a prove it contract who may have an NHL backup opportunity looming in his future once the Lightning sort out their starting situation up top.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
3:54 TB Morin (1), (unassisted)

Third Period
14:48 TB Point (2), (Morin, Bournival)

Gudlevskis, Jeremy Morin, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars. Kudos to the Lightning equipment guys for having the sense of humor to stick Morin in #33. He's one letter away from being a Lightning all-timer. Made me double-take, for certain.

If the Lightning preseason opener was a showcase for the team's junior prospects, tonight was an opportunity for many prospects earmarked for the Syracuse Crunch. And, on first blush, I'd think new coach Benoit Groulx will be pleased with what he saw tonight.

Centers

Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:37. 90% on 10 draws is pleasing to the eye. I remain convinced that for Syracuse to go anywhere, Peca's going to have to become a big time AHL player. He'll have a little more help this season with Brayden Point in Syracuse, but as an older and more experienced guy, he's one I suspect needs to become one of the leaders for the Crunch.

Tanner Richard had 2 hits in 16:49. 13% on 8 draws is a little cringe-worthy stat line on draws. He's on the clock now to make a push and earn a look in the NHL. Not sure he really flashed enough tonight.

Brayden Point had his second goal in as many games and was +2 with 3 shots in 14:02. He was also 45% on 11 draws. The Lightning are already trying to tamp down expectations because they know Point needs seasoning and experience, but his raw talent is undeniable.

Wingers
Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 16:58.

Mike Halmo had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 11:48.

Gabriel Dumont had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:57.

Defensemen
Daniel Walcott had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:43.

Dylan Blujus had 3 shots and 4 blocked shots in 18:34. Blujus is a guy who somewhat falls into the same boat as Richard. He needs to start making a push to challenge Witkowski to become the Lightning's first righty callup from Syracuse.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:48.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 in 16:40. The Lightning have played Koekkoek in both games, which is telling, but they've also resolved not to give him a gigantic load of minutes in these games as they might've been tempted to do. That tells me they're easing Koekkoek into a marathon rather than putting him through a sprint of a look-see.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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