Peca, Matthew

NHL Game Night: 1-22-18 Lightning at Blackhawks

Just when they need it the most, Vasiy delivers the kittens.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy snapped out of a little mini-slump with a 40 save shutout victory. Like a giant awaking from a slumber, Vasilevskiy just got stronger and stronger as the game wore on. Look out, he may go on another hot streak now.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
17:14 TB Kunitz (6), (Dotchin, Point)(SH)

Third Period
18:26 TB Gourde (15), (unassisted)

Vasilevskiy and Chris Kunitz were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning rebounded from a couple of debacles with a team win that flowed from the goaltending brilliance of young Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy didn't look completely solid in the First Period but the Lightning PK really picked up the slack with a key kill of a 5-on-3 that invoked and once again validated the old Espo Rule. From the Second Period on it was all Vasilevskiy until Kunitz got a break on an uncalled hand pass that eventually ended up as a shorthanded goal down in the Chicago zone. Gourde pounds home a late insurance goal on a one timer on the back of more Vasilevskiy brilliance and it's a gigantic win for a team that's been limping toward the All Star break.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 5 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:23. Big minutes. Big Jake is now just 5 games from graduation from prospect status on the website.

Matthew Peca was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:03 and he was also 67% on 6 draws. He won the faceoff on the sequence that led to Gourde's insurance goal and then made a strong play along the wall to pressure the defender to help the puck squirt to Gourde for the one time goal. He showed good speed. Slick hands at times. Good start to this callup.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1-15-18 Devils at Crunch

Dominguenator keeps his conditioning stint perfect.

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Louis Domingue stopped all 17 shots he faced for the shutout victory in light work to keep his perfect goose egg in this conditioning stint. Domingue runs his season save percentage in the AHL up to a stylish .921.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
1:43 SYR Stephens (12), (Volkov, McBain)(PP)
7:32 SYR Tammela (1), (Masin, Bournival)

Third Period
1:12 SYR Masin (6), (Peca)

Dominik Masin, Matthew Peca, and Jonne Tammela were the game's three stars.

With 16 points on his campaign, Masin has now more than doubled his points output from last season in 32 less games. He's also gone from -4 a season ago to a hefty +16 rating thus far this year. Peca, who may be the quiet favorite to be the next callup from the Crunch, is now riding a seven game points streak and has been brutally consistent most of the campaign. At the other end of the spectrum of great stories, Jonne Tammela (The Cobra!) comes off of three knee surgeries and pots his first AHL goal in his third game back.

Syracuse moves to within three points of second place Rochester with a game in hand and within five points, straight up, of North Division leader Toronto.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1-7-18 Crunch at Bruins

Comeback Crunch sweep the weekend.

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Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the victory.

First Period
0:17 SYR Bournival (10), (Erne, Thomas)
12:51 PRO Beleskey (3), (Cave, Cross)
14:31 SYR Peca (8), (Joseph, Walcott)

Second Period
4:36 PRO Cehlarik (5), (Karlsson, Cross)
12:50 PRO Bjork (2), (O'Gara, Karlsson)(PP)

Third Period
3:48 SYR Stephens (10), (Verhaeghe)
7:26 SYR Erne (10), (Lynch)

Adam Erne and Matthew Peca were the game's first and third stars. Both Erne and fellow winger Mitchell Stephens potted their 10th goals of the season. Stephens has 4 goals in the past 3 games and appears to be yet another forward throwing their resume on Steve Yzerman's desk for a second half cup of coffee with Tampa Bay.

With the win, at this hour, the Crunch have clearly separated from the pack behind them and sit on an island in third place in the North Divison 6 points up on Laval and 8 points up on Utica. They sit a full 7 points behind second place Rochester and 9 back of first place Toronto, although they hold a game in hand on the Americans and two games in hand on the Marlies.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

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