Lightning miss a second straight preseason shutout by an eyelash.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the OT win. The loan blemish was a goal surrendered in a 6-on-4 situation with 1:05 left in regulation. If the performances of the past two nights by Gudlevskis and Vasilevskiy are any indication, Yzerman might have the flexibility he needs if he does choose to move Ben Bishop for cap reasons.
5:21 TB Johnson (1), (Palat, Nesterov[/b]
18:55 CAR Skinner (2), (DiGiuseppe, Rask)
1:38 TB Palat (1), (unassisted)
Very interesting lineup tonight from the Lightning and a pleasantly surprising performance. Tonight's group mixed in more NHL forwards, at least on the wings, but they pretty much went with Syracuse's defensive corps plus Nikita Nesterov, who may be a bubble player in this camp. It helps when you have Vasilevskiy behind you, but to almost get a shutout with that group is not too shabby.
Brayden Point had 4 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 16:09. He was also 33% on 9 draws. Sorry, son, you don't get to score a goal every game.
Cam Darcy had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:31 and was 30% on 10 draws. PLEASE, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:44.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 14:02. For a guy who didn't score, his stat line still looks quite active, I have to say.
Henri Ikonen had 1 blocked shot in 14:15. The window is closing on the young Finn.
Brian Hart had 4 hits in 10:14. He then hit someone with an aluminum chair and put them in the Sharpshooter.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 4 hits and 2 blocked shots in 21:10. He's not giving any quarter in camp to anybody.
Dominik Masin had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 19:55.
Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 19:46.
Dylan Blujus had 3 blocked shots in 19:29.
Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:10.
Syracuse Crunch clamp down on Panthers B squad.
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.
3:54 TB Morin (1), (unassisted)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vermin, 24, skated in six games with the Lightning during the 2015-16 regular season, recording one assist and a plus-1 rating. He made his NHL debut on November 19 and recorded his first point on November 21 at the Anaheim Ducks. Vermin recorded a season-high for ice time on November 21 against the Ducks with 12:22.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pound forward also appeared in 37 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League this past season, posting nine goals and 21 points to go along with six penalty minutes. Vermin ranked 10th on the Crunch for points despite only skating in 37 games. He has played in 118 career AHL games over three seasons, all with Syracuse, recording 22 goals and 55 points.
A native of Frauenkappelen, Switzerland, Vermin was selected by the Lightning in the seventh round, 186th overall, of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Richard, 23, played in 71 games for the Crunch during the 2015-16 season, recording 11 goals and 54 points to go along with 57 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the Crunch for points and assists (43). Richard’s 71 games played also ranked second on Syracuse. The Jona, Switzerland native has appeared in 214 career AHL games, all with the Crunch over four seasons, notching 26 goals and 112 points.
The 6-foot, 195-pound forward appeared in 95 games with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League over two seasons, posting 24 goals and 110 points. During the 2012-13 season while with the Storm, he led the team for assists with 51 and ranked second for points with 62.
Richard was selected by the Lightning in the third round, 71st overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft.
IceCaps crushed under an avalanche of multi-point nights by Syracuse.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. Bath in the waters of sweet, sweet goal support, Kristers. Savor it.
STJ Hudon, (21) (Holloway, MacMillan), 1:23
SYR Gourde, (11) (Blujus, Richard), 7:10
SYR Tambellini, (24) (DeAngelo, Gourde), 14:25 (PP)
SYR Richard, (10) (DeAngelo, Tambellini), 9:16 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (12) (Koekkoek), 10:46
SYR Drouin, (6) (DeAngelo, Richard), 12:31
STJ Hudon, (22) (Ellis, Holloway), 14:49 (PP)
SYR Drouin, (7) (McGinn, Vermin), 19:45 (PP)
Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Jeff Tambellini and Anthony DeAngelo also had multi-point nights, with DeAngelo breaking the 40 point plateau for the season with his 3 assists.
Syracuse continues to hover just on the outer edge of the playoff picture with just 11 games left in their regular season. Their 6-2-1-1 record in the last 10 games and back-to-back wins have given them a chance, but they'll need to keep up the pace to make it to the dance.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Furious comeback bid falls short.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss. All three goals were on deflections, including one off a Crunch stick.
SPR Dauphin, (9) (Mermis, Reese), 9:22 (PP)
SPR Mermis, (2) (Gaudet, Selleck), 17:38
SYR Tambellini, (20) (Gourde), 18:51 (SH)
SPR Bunting, (9) (Reese, Mermis), 19:44 (PP)
SYR Tambellini, (21) (DeAngelo, Darcy), 13:27 (PP)
SPR Szwarz, (6) (Dauphin, Selleck), 19:59 (EN)
Jeff Tambellini was the game's second star.
Jonathan Drouin was held scoreless for the Crunch, although he was extremely active in the contest, registering 5 shots on goal and creating multiple chances.
Center Tanner Richard was held out of the lineup, possibly for a potential recall to Tampa Bay in light of injuries suffered in the Lightning game earlier in the afternoon.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Lightning stare down adversity... and smack it in the mouth.
Ben Bishop stopped all 37 shots he faced for the shutout victory. Columbus' fans decided to make Bishop a target after he was interfered with on a goal that was waved off early in the game, and the Blue Jackets ran Ben several times, including a pretty wicked leg sweep by Foligno. All the sweeter for Bishop, who handed down some U of Maine Justice by blanking his would-be tormenters.
5:29 TB Stamkos(30), (Kucherov)
8:45 TB Namestnikov(12), (Johnson)
10:54 TB Stamkos(31), (Palat)(SH)
14:39 TB Palat(12), (Stamkos)(SH)
The Lightning entered this game pretty well needing a win, having dropped their last 3 with 2 of those being distinctive clunkers against Philly. That's why Bishop was in net today, when if all things were even I think this is a start Cooper might've slid Vasilevskiy's way. Columbus has learned to play a little tighter defensively under Tortorella and they're an extremely physical (goonish) team. They push the envelope of the rules. And, further complicating things, the Lightning ended up playing over half the game with 9 forwards after Valtteri Filppula and Nikita Kucherov had to leave the game with injury (the latter taking a sucker punch in a post whistle scrum from Prout that should be suspension-worthy, in my opinion, if the league gives a damn about protecting its stars).
Tired and sore, the Lightning answered the bell. They manufactured the goals they needed to get the 2-0 lead, they played tight enough defense, and they eventually broke it open on a couple of masterful shorthanded goals by Stamkos and Palat. Today wasn't a game that the Lightning would've circled on the calendar heading into it, but the way they handled adversity in a chippy game makes this a far more important victory than it may have looked on paper.
A little comment on Columbus before I move on: that team is an embarrassment. Let me reiterate: that team is an embarrassment. God bless Tortorella for getting them to play hard, but the fine line between playing hard and playing dirty got obliterated this afternoon. You had Foligno low-bridging a goaltender and body-slamming Namestnikov. You had Prout sucker-punching a Russian goal scorer in a post-whistle scrum that may have concussed Kucherov. You had Bourque slashing Tyler Johnson across the hands with the game well out of hand. You had Calvert slashing another Lightning player right at the final buzzer. That says nothing about all the other stick infractions, clutching and grabbing, and sucker punches and slashes the Blue Jackets got away with as the game wore on. They started to look like a glorified Central Hockey League team as things wore on, and the NHL out to seriously be ashamed there's a product like that anywhere on the league's ice. I wish John Tortorella all the best in taking a book of matches and a gallon or two of lighter fluid to that roster in the offseason in the pursuit of building a team that isn't an appalling laughing stock for anyone who cares about seeing the game played the right way.
With Valtteri Filppula hurt, I wouldn't be shocked to see a Tanner Richard recall, as he was held out of Syracuse's lineup today.
With 1 game left to play in Segment Seven of the season, the Lightning have cleared the minimum 12 points they needed from the 10-game set by 1 point. That means the next contest against Toronto on Tuesday will be an opportunity to pick up 2 more insurance points and drive the magic number they need in Segment Eight of the season to comfortably make the playoffs down even further from 11, which is where it currently stands.
The return of Drouinsanity overshadowed by the wizardry of Witkowski.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory. Zettler continues to ride the hot hand after Wilcox has gone 4-0-1 in his last 5 starts. He's got a sporty .934 save percentage thus far in his four starts in March.
SYR Witkowski, (2) , 13:15
SYR Tambellini, (19) (Vermin, Dotchin), 13:49
BRI Kearns, (22) (Halmo, Lafranchise), 19:42
SYR Witkowski, (3) (Drouin, Peca), 11:14
SYR Gourde, (9) (Richard, Taormina), 14:23
BRI Fritz, (2) (Quine, Finn), 18:17
SYR Gourde, (10) (Richard), 19:42 (EN)
Oh, and Jonathan Drouin had a helper in his return to active duty.
Syracuse is starting to put a little stretch run together, having earned points in those 5 straight games. They draw Rochester Saturday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse pulls away at the end.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the victory. He's gotten points out of his last 4 starts and has evened his record at .500 for the campaign.
SPR Shinnimin, (4) (Grant, P. Samuelsson), 3:31 (PP)
SYR Vermin, (4) (Peca, McGinn), 10:43
SPR Bunting, (8) (Reese, Dauphin), 15:47
SYR Blunden, (20) (Richard, DeAngelo), 10:46 (PP)
SYR DeAngelo, (6) (McGinn, Peca), 4:29
SPR Cunningham, (18) (Szwarz, Shinnimin), 5:47
SYR Richard, (9) (Blunden, DeAngelo), 10:06 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (21) (Gourde, Richard), 16:57
SYR McGinn, (19) (Blujus, Witkowski), 18:49 (EN/PP)
Mike Blunden and Tanner Richard were the game's first and second stars. Both had 3 point games, as did Tye McGinn and Anthony DeAngelo. DeAngelo is now riding a 7 game points streak and has points in 10 of his last 11.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch score 3 unanswered to make Portland walk the plank.
Adam Wilcox allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory.
POR Brickley, (5) (Weegar, Gaunce), 4:57 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (8) (Walcott, Richard), 15:28
SYR Richard, (8) (DeAngelo, McGinn), 17:55
SYR Angelidis, (7) , 19:55 (EN)
Tanner Richard and Wilcox were the game's first and second stars.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch steal a wild, improbable win.
Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 32 shots before stopping 4 of 5 in the penalty shot session for the 5-4 SO win.
BNG Puempel, (14) (Varone, Kostka), 1:19 (PP)
BNG Leduc, (8) , 3:46
BNG Puempel, (15) (Akeson), 8:53
SYR Blunden, (17) (Richard, DeAngelo), 5:42 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (18) (DeAngelo, Richard), 9:32 (PP)
SYR Vermin, (4) (Blujus, Dotchin), 15:26
BNG Kostka, (5) (Varone, Akeson), 19:11
SYR McGinn, (17) (Richard, Tambellini), 19:51
SYR- Blunden, Peca
A 3 goals deficit in pro hockey SHOULD be a death sentence. Syracuse improbably erased a 3 goal deficit after 40 minutes only to see ex-Lightning property Mike Kostka put Bingo ahead with under a minute to go. Not to be deterred, Tye McGinn tied the game with under 10 seconds to go before Matthew Peca eventually put it away in the Shootout. When you cough up a 3 goal lead like that, it's emotionally devastating. When you come back and win a game by erasing one, it can be emotionally galvanizing. We'll see if the Crunch get a bounce off of this win.
Box score from TheAHL.com.