Half a game won't cut it.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. There was a theme on all three goals: long screened shots. The problem is I'm not sure Lindback can play any better than he did over the past couple of games, which is maybe slightly better than mediocre. Ben Bishop should be back tomorrow, and it's not a moment too soon.
3:46 CBJ Johansen (17), (Murray)
5:07 TB Killorn (12), (Carle, Gudas)(PP)
6:04 TB Hedman (9), (Johnson, St Louis)
3:09 CBJ Horton (2), (Johnson, Anisimov)(PP)
17:22 CBJ Wisniewski (4), (Johnson, Horton)(PP)
The Lightning left a point on the ice here in the game against Columbus and another in the game against Washington, and they've got to stop coughing up points late in games if they want to stay on track. With that said, they may not have deserved to get a point out of tonight's game with the way they played. 20 minutes of Lightning hockey won't do. They got jumped all over in the First Period and were very lucky to escape unscathed. They recovered and played their game in the Second Period looking excellent in terms of structure and how they were moving the puck up and out of the zone in transition. Third Period? Flat as a pancake at first and then way too loosey goosey defensively late. I don't know what's going on (I hope it's not players prematurely getting fat and happy with their spot in the standings) but 5 of the last 6 periods of hockey have been bad hockey and it's got to stop.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 2 ill-advised retaliation minors, and 3 hits in 18:40. He did manage to draw a retaliation penalty from Umberger in the Third Period, so he 50% made up for his lack of discipline. Tonight was his 41st NHL game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status here on the website. Congratulations.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 14:02. He held up better against this style of opponent than I would have imagined.
J.P. Cote had 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:37. He seemed to be more active offensively tonight than in past games, to be sure.
J.T. Brown had 1 blocked shot in 11:10. He had one brisk rush in the First Period and not much else. It was an off night for his line.
Andrej Sustr was -1 with a phantom cross checking minor and 2 hits in 11:08. As I said about 2-3 weeks ago, he really looks like he's hit a rookie wall to me. There's no shame in it, but sometimes it takes an offseason of training to be able to get over that wall. That said, as it stands now, he's probably the next in line to graduate from prospect status on the site.
Nikita Kucherov had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:34. Again, it was an off night for his line and the rare night he didn't have at least one breakaway.
You stay classy Philadelphia.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 38 shots for the victory. This was one of the few games this season where you can say that Anders was a reason the Lightning won the game. He had the cape on in the First Period and made several key saves that made the difference in this game. Steve Mason allowed 2 softies and Lindback outplayed him. Therefore, Lightning win.
4:33 TB Killorn (11), (unassisted)
5:21 TB Purcell (9), (Filppula, Carle)
6:44 PHI Voracek (11), (Giroux)
7:28 TB Malone (4), (Thompson, Crombeen)
11:14 PHI Simmonds (15), (Giroux, Timonen)(PP)
14:35 PHI Voracek (12), (Meszaros)
15:41 TB Filppula (18), (Killorn, Purcell)
19:03 TB St Louis (20), (Johnson, Gudas)
18:12 TB Malone (5), (Crombeen, Carle)(EN)
For the Lightning, this game probably helped make up for the point or two they deserved but didn't get out of the Capitals game. Coach Cooper's going to (rightfully) be upset by a poor defensive effort this afternoon against the Flyers coming off of some pretty strong defensive efforts in recent games, including the Capitals game. Too many odd man rushes. Too many breakaways. And, they really struggled to get out of their zone cleanly for the last 50 minutes or so of the game. But, they got a fortunate bounce on Killorn's First Period goal and a couple of softies out of Steve Mason and they managed to kill off a key 5-on-3 in the First Period, and that helped pull them through. With the victory, the Lightning pull into a tie with Boston for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with the Bruins set to play the Sharks later. At the halfway point of this 10 game segment the Lightning have 6 points, so they're on pace to get the 12 points you want, at a minimum, out of every 10 game set. So, certainly, this was a big win.
It came at a price, though, with Sami Salo leaving the game with an apparent foot injury and Hedman leaving the game with an apparent head injury. Hopefully neither will miss significant time, and the Lightning should get Ben Bishop back next week.
Now, onto more pressing business: the Philadelphia Flyers took this afternoon to remind us all what a colossal pack of dirtbags they are from the players to the broadcasters all the way to the peanut vendors. Yeah, that's name calling, but it's also the truth. Class and the Philadelphia Flyers have never shared the same address, and it showed again in today's game. CSN Philly's play-by-play man Steve Coates should really take a look in the mirror after today's broadcast. Seriously. He started off by accusing Gudas of being a dirty hitter in the First Period, which is interesting considering Gudas has never been suspended for a hit in the NHL and the closest he came to a suspension was for slamming a stick on the boards at the opposing team's bench. Fast forward to the Third Period with the game getting out of hand. The Flyers, as is their M.O., responded to adversity with their usual display of poor sportsmanship taking runs and cheap shots at Lightning players, including Tyler Johnson taking a pretty significant slash in the Flyers end. Coates had the gaul of accusing Johnson of embellishing to draw a call even as it became very clear Johnson was hurt as he was protecting his arm skating slowly off the ice. Moments later, Scott Hartnell (who has had suspensions for dirty play in the NHL, not to mention being accused of biting an opposing player) was called for a dirty hit to the head of Victor Hedman. Hedman's had some concussion issues over the course of his career and looked absolutely livid on his way off the ice to go get medical attention. How did Coates and CSN Philly react? They had the stones to run a package that highlighted Hartnell's hitting as one of the bright spots of the game and praised him for his physical play. The hypocrisy is so thick you'd think he'd have to take a bath after narrating that montage. When you consider he's on a broadcast team with Keith Jones who used his spot as a studio host on NBCSN earlier this year to brand the Lightning "the weak sisters of the Atlantic Division" (how's that one working out for you, Keith?) I think you can see why the Lightning and its fans might have a beef with Philly. That's to say nothing of the clown show a couple of years back when Philly stopped playing in protest of the 1-3-1 because they had no earthly clue how to break it (because their coach's incompetence was somehow the Lightning's fault). You add it all up, and you've got a team that combines a special mix of undeserved arrogance with the complete absence of respect for the game and that makes them really easy to dislike (and that's before you even mention their degenerate fans). Fortunately, when my head hits the pillow at night, I know I don't support a team that hasn't won a Stanley Cup since the Watergate era, and therefore I don't feel like I have to overcompensate by trying to be king of the jerks to every other team's fans. Oh by the way, Flyers fans, before you start your peacock strut about how tough your team (allegedly) is and the typical garbage about "hockey in Florida isn't relevant," maybe you should instead focus on the fact your franchise hasn't had a decent goaltender since Ron Hextall was a young man. Ponder that for a moment, if you can. It certainly cost your club 2 points this afternoon.
Radko Gudas had a helper and was +4 with 2 penalty minutes, 5 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:53. It should be noted that none of those 5 hits resulted in a penalty for an illegal hit to the head, unlike the allegedly wonderful play of pure-as-the-driven-snow Scott Hartnell. Color me shocked, because to hear Steve Coates tell it, Radko Gudas clubs baby seals before and after every morning skate and has a pre-meal ritual on off days of stealing the handbags of elderly women so he can pay for his drink with their grocery money. In any event, tonight was Gudas' 40th NHL game of the season, which means he'll likely graduate from prospect status on Bolt Prospects in Monday's game against Columbus.
J. P. Cote had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 10:48. Lindback bailed him out on a transition breakaway in the First Period that exposed his lack of make-up speed.
J.T. Brown had 3 shots and 1 hit in 12:49 in his return to the lineup from a shoulder injury.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:50. After Gudas, either Sustr or Panik will probably be the next to graduate on the site.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:21. He was a dangerous with a partial breakaway on the first shift of the game in the First Period and a free-and-clear breakaway in the Third Period. If he potted even half of the breakaways he gets himself, he'd be threatening to enter the Calder Trophy discussion.
Bizarre and potentially costly loss for the Lightning.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 1 shot before leaving the game with an apparent hand/arm injury. We dare not speculate on what the injury actually is, although the play looked rather harmless. He reportedly received x-rays and will be re-evaluated tomorrow when the team gets to Winnipeg. I wish there was news to calm the nerves, but none is forthcoming right now. Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 25 shots the rest of the way for the defeat. I would hardly call that Lindback's best hockey with Edmonton's game winning goal coming on a goal that Lindback appeared to have stopped and then kicked into his own net.
2:43 TB Kucherov (6), (Carle, Gudas)(PP)
4:18 EDM Eberle (13), (Nugent-Hopkins, Hall)
6:09 EDM Eberle (14), (Gagner, Smyth)(PP)
15:42 EDM Gazdic (2), (Schultz, Jones)
8:47 TB Hedman (8), (Palat, Johnson)
14:25 TB Filppula (16), (Carle, Purcell)
8:20 EDM Gordon (7), (Hemsky, Smyth)
10:30 EDM Hall (16), (Ference, Gagner)
It's a disappointing effort by the Lightning, and one of the few times this season I think they failed to respect their opponent and lost because they didn't put a full effort in. I can excuse the First Period. The team looked shell shocked after their Vezina candidate left the game abruptly to get x-rays. I'll attribute the lethargic play and turnovers in the opening 20 minutes to that. But, I can't excuse the Third Period. It's like they expected Edmonton to just collapse under their own badness until Lindback decided to spot them the game winning goal. You hope that, A.) The Lightning learn the game gives you nothing for free, and B.) They don't regret failing to get a point or two out of this game in March and April when they're trying to nail down a playoff spot.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 20:33.
J.P. Cote had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 9:58. He handled Edmonton's speed better than I might have anticipated.
J.T. Brown was -1 with 1 shot and 5 hits in 14:13. His line was the Lightning's only active line in the First Period. Unfortunately, Brown hobbled off the ice late in the Third Period. Hopefully his name won't be added to the MASH Unit roster.
Andrej Sustr was -2 with 1 blocked shot in 10:44.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11. I'm beginning to feel like it's a waste of time putting him in the extra forward role. He doesn't seem to be in any flow when he gets opportunities with the puck.
Nikita Kucherov had a wicked 1-timer PP goal but finished -2 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 13:06.
Lightning fail to snowman Calgary only by the grace of Karri Ramo.
Ben Bishop stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout at the beginning of what we might title the 2014 Ben Bishop Shove it Up the Tailpipe of USA Hockey Management Tour. Mind you, he only had to make a couple of good stops all night despite the Lightning spending half of the game on the PK because Calgary is a talentless dumpster fire right now. None the less, enjoy, Brian Burke!
5:23 TB Palat (7), (Purcell, Barberio)
10:20 TB Kucherov (5), (Palat, Carle)
Bishop and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and third stars.
Wow Calgary stinks. Buffalo has the excuse of being young. Edmonton has the excuse of being young and undisciplined from a structure standpoint. Calgary just flat out doesn't have enough talent to compete in this league. Karri Ramo had to stand on his head just to make the night look respectable. The Lightning could have won this game by 8 goals were it not for Ramo, and that's even with taking most of the Third Period off and taking a bunch of penalties. If Bishop faced even a half dozen quality scoring chances in the entire game I'd be shocked. Through the first 4 or so Calgary PP's they only managed 1 shot on goal. I don't know what you take away from tonight's game because it's like a top-10 FBS school playing a FCS team that showed up for a paycheck. The Lightning handled their business in workmanlike fashion and we move on.
At the exact midpoint of the season, the Lightning have 54 points. That puts them on a pace for a 108 point season despite the absence of Steven Stamkos for a large stretch of the season thus far. That's nothing but impressive. The team has clinched no worse than a .500 record on this 4-game road trip and will take the show to Edmonton next.
Radko Gudas had 4 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 17:46. The Lightning might've paid for the penalties against a true NHL-caliber opponent, but Calgary stinks.
Mark Barberio had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots in 10:10. A game as tilted in the Lightning's favor as this one was, from a possession standpoint, automatically favors the strengths in Barberio's game.
Tyler Johnson was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 20:26 and he was 35% on draws. He caught a post 15 seconds into the game.
Alex Killorn was +1 with 1 shot in 17:06.
Palat had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:57. He whistled a wrist shot from the slot past Ramo's glove for the first goal of the game and whistled a sharp pass backdoor to Kucherov for the tap in for the insurance marker. On a team with a group of high quality rookies, it says something that Palat might be the best of the bunch halfway through the season.
J.P. Cote had 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 9:43.
J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 14:12. He also caught a post on a turnaround shot in the First Period.
Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 15:41.
Richard Panik played 9:00. He had one noticeable shift in the Third Period where he set up a play for Thompson off the rush and then drove the net to set a screen and later got a shot from the slot that was blocked.
Nikita Kucherov got the insurance goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 10:08. He also had the near-obligatory breakaway that he failed to score on, which is a feature of nearly every game Kucherov has played in the NHL thus far.
Tonight is the 41st NHL game of the season for Johnson, Palat, and Killorn, so they officially graduate from prospect status on Bolt Prospects. Congratulations to all three. They join Bishop, who technically graduated from overage prospect status in his win over Buffalo on October 8th in a 2013-2014 Bolt Prospects Alumni class which may well grow by another 3 members by the end of the month of January.
After midnight, we gonna let it all hang out.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory. He was a little iffy on his puck handling tonight, but otherwise had a workmanlike evening in a game where the Lightning didn't force him to have to stand on his head to get the W.
11:25 VAN Richardson (8), (Higgins)
15:27 TB Filppula (15), (Purcell, Killorn)
15:47 TB Johnson (11), (Palat, Barberio)
16:01 VAN Dalpe (1), (Weise, Sestito)
19:57 TB Kucherov (4), (Gudas, Carle)(PP)
7:28 TB Killorn (10), (Hedman, Filppula)
Valterri Filppula and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars.
I would like to think this effort tonight will raise some eyebrows around the NHL. True, Vancouver was without the injured Roberto Luongo, but the Lightning pretty well carried this game from start to finish. They jumped on Vancouver, which appeared unprepared for the Lightning's speed and system, early on, handled what little bit of a surge the Canucks could muster, and eventually cruised through the Third Period to the 4-2 win. Even better, the Lightning's puck movement on the PP was excellent tonight, eventually resulting in the game winning goal by Kucherov.
The Lightning closed out the 4th 10 game segment of the season with 15 points, earning 3 insurance points and giving them 4 total insurance points for the season. Those points may become valuable given how many road games the Lightning will be playing in January.
Tonight's game also put three prospects (Johnson, Killorn, and Palat) one game away from graduating from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects. The trio should cross the finish line Friday against Calgary.
Radko Gudas had a helper and was -1 with 1 shot in 20:19. He had a mistake on the Dalpe goal but got it back assisting on Kucherov's game winner.
Mark Barberio had a helper and 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:11. He got caught stepping up into no-man's land in the neutral zone on Richardson's goal.
Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 20:14. He was also 24% on draws. Vancouver was legitimately unprepared for Tyler Johnson's speed tonight, which resulted in his 2-on-1 tap in goal, a penalty he took on a near breakaway, and a few other dangerous rushes.
Alex Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:44. He got his helper leading a nice rush and setting a screen in front driving the net and he got his goal off a deflection. He's just a good complimentary scoring line winger. That's his role and he does it well.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:56. He made a nice pass to Johnson for the tap in goal and just flubbed a chance early on for a 1-timer point blank in the slot.
J.P. Cote had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 8:33.
J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:11.
Andrej Sustr was +2 with 1 blocked shot in 15:15.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot in 6:51.
Nikita Kucherov had the game winning goal, 3 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 12:38.
The common thing you'll note that is the younger prospects, going against a high quality opponent like Vancouver, saw their ice time reduced to protect them. Well done by the coaching staff.
Turnovers and poor luck doom the Lightning in their last game of 2013.
Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. It was one of those Lindback games where he wasn't the reason the Lightning lost, but he couldn't make the 1-2 key saves to be the reason they won.
4:30 NYR Nash (7), (Stepan)
10:41 TB Johnson (10), (Purcell, Filppula)(PP)
16:05 TB Palat (6), (Gudas, Cote)
18:25 NYR Zuccarello (9), (Brassard, McDonagh)(PP)
4:35 NYR Kreider, (Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh)(PP)
7:51 NYR Pouliot (7), (Brassard, Zuccarello)(PP)
8:14 TB Filppula (14), (Purcell, Korobov)
Teddy Purcell was the game's third star.
The effort for the Lightning tonight was very good. They had good speed and the passing was better in 2 of 3 zones than against Montreal. However, they really struggled getting out of their own end with turnovers and they had some bad breaks between pucks bouncing in off d-men and unlucky penalties with sticks breaking off a faceoff. Outshooting New York 40-29 they probably deserved better, and looking back at this weekend they may regret only getting 1 point out of these 2 games with so many road games coming up.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:03. He had a rough night. His turnover led to the first Rangers goal. He had the second bounce in off his skate. Then on the third goal he got caught flat footed for Kreider's breakaway. He'll want to burn that game tape.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:58. He was relatively mistake free in a game where everyone else played like a dumpster fire with the puck in their own third. Go figure.
Tyler Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 20:43 and he was 53% on draws. New York had no answers for his line's speed.
Alex Killorn had 4 shots and 2 hits in 18:04. His line did well generating a lot of greasy goal opportunities in tight but couldn't cash.
Ondrej Palat had the quick release rebound goal and was +1 with 4 shots in 19:29. Again, that line was all over the Rangers like fire ants tonight.
J.P. Cote had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:37. I thought he was absolutely hosed on the high sticking call that resulted in the GWG. To my eyes, they basically called J.P. For hitting someone too hard (but cleanly).
J.T. Brown had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:45. He made one sweet play off the rush that nearly resulted in beating a d-man one on one for a goal, but all in all his line was off tonight.
Dmitry Korobov had a helper, his first NHL point, 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 10:35. His foot speed has really showed up as a liability in the 2 games this weekend.
Nikita Kucherov played 16:19. It was perhaps his first really ineffective game offensively as an NHLer.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 16:42. He was credited with 1 giveaway. It felt like there were more. I thought it was his poorest game at breakout passing this season.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 7:27. He and Pyatt looked strong on the puck early, but played sparingly after a couple of defensive zone turnovers.
Rusty Lightning salvage a point coming off the break.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots before allowing 1 of 2 shooters to convert for the SO loss.
5:15 MTL Plekanec (13), (Gionta, Moen)
11:43 TB St Louis (17), (Johnson, Palat)
Bishop and Ondrej Palat were the game's second and third stars.
It was a hangover from the holiday break, plain and simple. The team's legs were there but the timing/passing weren't. It was an awful showing for the first 30 minutes before the timing started coming back and they nearly stole 2 points with goaltending and some luck (posts). As it is, they stole an insurance point and move on to the Rangers tomorrow night.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:00. Gudas played huge minutes with both Salo and Brewer out. The D did hold Montreal to 21 shots although their chances were higher than that reflects.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot in 13:27. Dangerous in the O zone. Dangerous in the D zone.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +1 in 20:51. He was 53% on draws.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:01. His timing was clearly off early scuffing some good chances and he was on the wrong side of Plekanec driving the net on Montreal's goal.
Palat had a helper and was +1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot. With all due respect to the SunSports crew that called Palat's star selection a surprise: you're blind. Palat was everywhere. 3 brilliant cross ice feeds for chances. Drawing 2 penalties. Sweeping a potential goal out of danger. Backchecking to defuse at least a couple other chances. Tonight the term "Ondrejpresent" was coined for good reason. He was a plus player for all 200 feet of the rink tonight.
J.P. Cote was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 10:43. They clearly hid him against a superior skating Montreal team.
J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:17. He creates greasy goal opportunities. Reliably.
Dmitry Korobov had 3 hits in 8:08. His skating was exposed by Montreal creating a 2-on-1 and hemming the Lightning in a majority of the shifts Korobov was out.
Nikita Kucherov had 1 shot in 16:58. He had a partial breakaway where he drew a penalty that should've been a penalty shot and another breakaway where he lost control of the puck going in. If he converted half of the breakaway chances he's had he'd be sitting on 4-5 more goals.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 18:05. I thought he played with a little more snarl as the game went on, realizing he can't keep up with Montreal's speed, so pin and seal with a little nasty.
Tonight was game 38, so we're fast approaching graduation from prospect status for several of these players. Not that I'm complaining, but there were 10 (10!) prospects in the lineup tonight. Amazing.
Now THAT was a holiday treat!
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He got the 3 goal lead, made a flurry of key stops toward the end of the Second Period, and the team got to throw it in cruise control the rest of the way. That's how you show the killer instinct to dispose of an inferior team.
18:56 FLA Bergenheim (5), (Barkov)(PP)
19:15 TB Killorn (9), (Filppula, Hedman)
3:22 TB Johnson (9), (Hedman, St Louis)
8:01 TB Filppula (13), (Purcell, St Louis)(PP)
12:07 TB St Louis (16), (Palat)
3:40 TB Brown (3), (Kucherov, Cote)
13:36 TB Brown (4), (Kucherov, Hedman)
This was billed as a clash of two of the hottest teams of the Eastern Conference. The Panthers saw this as an opportunity to make a statement in the last game before the holiday break in front of their home fans (all 3 of them). They made a statement all right. After a fairly even First Period the Lightning started to take territorial control in the Second Period, got a greasy goal to take the lead and the Panthers reacted to the slightest bit of adversity by absolutely dissolving. Undisciplined, stupid play helped the Lightning get a 3 goal lead at the end of the period, and they rewarded the 2 fans they had that stuck around for the final frame by absolutely laying down in the Third Period. They quit. No effort. Nil. Nada. Lightning fans, if you ever get to feeling down on your team, take a look downstate at that dumpster fire in Sunrise. Be glad you don't have to root for that bunch of lazy, unprofessional quitters.
The Lightning check into the holiday break having already secured the minimum 12 points they want from this 4th 10-game segment of the season. They'll get 3 games after the break to close out the segment and to try to rack up insurance points that may come in handy in January and into February. It's a fantastic spot to be in and a tribute to the guys that their record without one of the game's best players (Stamkos) is nearly identical as what their record was with Stamkos to start the year.
The victory also gives the Lightning the inaugural Governor's Cup, which can be now used to collect Bill Lindsay's tears, that I might drink of their sweet, sweet goodness.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:33. With Brewer out and Salo going down in the First Period, Gudas got the big minutes tonight.
Mark Barberio was +3 in 13:46. Two of those plusses came in garbage time in the Third Period after the Panthers chose to lay down. Again, with regard to Barberio's plus/minus, he's living a charmed life this season.
Tyler Johnson had the GWG and was +2 with 3 shots. He was also 54% on draws. He missed a second goal on a 1-time by just a dash, as well.
Alex Killorn was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 16:05. Killorn's goal 19 seconds after Bergenheim's gift from Carle completely negated the Panthers' momentum and set the stage for the Lightning to beat up their inner children all Second Period long.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:48. His nice feed to St. Louis on the 1-timer was almost for naught as Marty flubbed the shot, but he got just enough to put it in and get Ondrej on the scoresheet.
J.P. Cote had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 16:16. That, what, 2 assists in 3 games? They gave him #22 and he's putting up numbers like Dan Boyle. He's played mistake-free the past couple of games and he's consistently given the Lightning another big open ice hitter to go along with Gudas. As such, you've seen his ice time continue to go up with over 16 minutes tonight.
J.T. Brown had 2 goals and was +2 with 6 shots in 16:41. The Third Period, garbage time, was the Kucherov and Brownov show, with Brownov being the recipient of some great playmaking from Kucherov.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 helpers and was +2 with 2 shots in 16:04. He set up Brown's first goal with a great rush and move around the net and the second goal with an easy tap-in off a feed on a 2-on-1. In fact, it looked like he was going to be credited with Brown's first goal, but the scorekeepers realized only Kucherov shots from the high slot should count as regulation goals.
Andrej Sustr was +1 in 16:20. I'll be honest, although he hasn't made any egregious mistakes, it feels like he may be starting to hit a bit of a rookie wall. He's a slightly built guy and he's playing against guys with a lot more foot speed and upper body strength than him, and he's having a slightly rougher time keeping up 1-on-1. This break might be coming at a good time for him to rest and relax before heading out west.
Large kitchen sink eventually crushes Justin Peters.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the OT win. I'm shocked Carolina even had 27 shots in this one. The game seemed totally slanted, especially during the first 30 minutes. Bishop could've read the paper, had a cup of coffee, smoked a cigarette, broke into Khabi's old stash of Pedialite, and still had time to shoot dice with Chief.
4:35 CAR Tlusty (5), (Dwyer, Nash)
16:12 TB Hedman (7), (Filppula, Killorn)
10:11 CAR Tlusty (6), (Staal, Hainsey)(SH)
7:56 TB St Louis (15), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
2:16 TB Gudas (2), (Thompson)
Victor Hedman was the game's second star. He has been outstanding since returning from injury. We're 36 games into the season and he's already set a career high with 7 goals. The Lightning are starting to look like they're in good hands with two young d-men like Hedman and Gudas with, hopefully, Koekkoek on the way. For the future, the picture was fuzzy a year ago, but it's looking a lot better right now.
The Lightning did an outstanding job of putting the work in tonight to deny Carolina the 2 points. Carolina played a classic road game getting a lot of timely saves from Peters and then cashing in on their few chances when they came. Against New Jersey, the Lightning fell into the trap of making mistakes trying to open up the offense even more to try to get goals back. Here, against Carolina, they just applied their system with more and more zest. They threw the kitchen sink at Peters, a nice one too. Like, a Toto or a Kohler. Not an American Standard. Vinik buys quality. And, they did it, for the most part, without compromising their defensive structure and eventually the pressure was just too much for the Canes to take.
And now, an aside about the Filppula one-timer goal that was waved off. Folks, the NHL needs to take a look at their replay rules. Right now there's a strict standard where a puck has to clearly be over the line to be counted a goal. However, some sort of allowance for common sense needs to be added to the criteria. Justin Peters gloved Filppula's shot and his glove was clearly inside the net when he did so. However, because the puck was concealed inside the glove, it could not be said in absolute terms whether the puck crossed. But folks, c'mon. If the puck's in the glove and the glove's over the goal line, you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce the puck is also over the goal line. There was a similar play a few years back where Shanahan concealed a puck under his glove in a game against the Rangers where the goal was also disallowed because you couldn't conclusively say where the puck was under the glove, even though the glove was completely in the net (should've been a PS for a skater covering the puck with a glove in the crease at a minimum, but I digress). The chances of this sort of scenario happening in a Stanley Cup Finals game at a critical juncture are slim, but the chance should make the league sweat a little, and if they're smart they'll create some wiggle room for the Toronto war room on these calls. Mind you, Toronto doubled down on the stupidity by saying the video conclusively proved the puck didn't cross the line tonight (it didn't), but the league office's bias again Tampa Bay (which is real) is a different issue.
6 games into this 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning already have 10 of the minimum 12 points you want out of every 10-game segment. They have a real opportunity to packrat some points in these next 4 games that can help them get through January and into the time when Stamkos returns. This is a big bonus if the Lightning can capitalize on it.
Radko Gudas had the GWG, 4 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 22:34. He atoned for his mistake on Tlusty's shorthanded goal, where he just made a poor decision to try to cross the ice to hold a puck in leading to a clean breakaway for Tlusty. And, he atoned in classic Radko Gudas style: atomize Jeff Skinner along the boards in his own end to spring a 2-on-1 and then blast a slapper past Peters with extreme velocity. I'm risking committing hockey sacrilege with this statement, but there's something reminiscent of Scott Stevens in how Gudas can change games by physically taking out your best players and his ability to chip in offensively, too.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and he was 31% on draws in 19:08. It wasn't for lack of trying. His line, like every other line on the Lightning, was dangerous all night long.
Alex Killorn had a helper, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 18:00. His north-south game clicks well with Filppula's four-directional game. Very well.
Ondrej Palat was -1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 16:59. He's so crafty, his secondary nickname (besides Dr. Drej) might need to be Martha Stewart. When he has the puck, working with Marty, it's a good thing.
J.P. Cote had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:28. Two of his hits were of the bone-crunching variety and he had no boo boo's in this game that I detected. I'm a little squeamish about the trainers giving him Dan Boyle's #22, but all in all I'll take what the Lightning got out of him tonight. Hopefully they won't have to ask for too much more with Eric Brewer leaving tonight's game in the Second Period with an upper body injury after his arm got wrenched awkwardly.
J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 2 hits in 12:40. His work with Kucherov and Thompson is clicking right now, too.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 shots in 15:01. He gets a breakaway in pretty much every single game and he fails to complete it in every single game. I'm beginning to think he needs to stop and fire from his spot in the high slot. That's where all 3 of his goals have come from so far, after all.
Andrej Sustr had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 13:33. There were moments he seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the seemingly endless supply of Staals Carolina has, as well as Skinner, inside of the zone when they were really working his stop-starts hard. That said, he made arguably the biggest shot block of the Third Period to make sure the game got to OT for Gudas' heroics.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot in 9:46. He had 1 or 2 decent shifts with Pyatt, who returned tonight off IR, but honestly the Lightning had 3 lines rolling so well the extra forwards were an afterthought.
Nashville almost got run out of the building.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. Christmas came early as the Lightning skaters finally gave him some goal support. Ho, ho, ho!
2:25 TB Killorn (8), (Hedman, Cote)
19:06 TB St Louis (14), (Salo, Killorn)(PP)
6:36 NSH Smith (7), (Cullen, Weber)
08:27 TB Purcell (8), (Filppula, Carle)
13:02 NSH Smith (8), (Cullen , Ellis)(PP)
13:51 TB Panik (2), (Brewer, Sustr)
The scoreboard and shots on goal say this game was a lot closer than what the eyeball test said. The Lightning dominated territorially throughout this contest and clearly had the bulk of the scoring chances. They had so many opportunities to get a 3 goal lead and turn this into a complete squash that they just couldn't quite cash in. In the future, as they mature, they'll refine their killer instinct and get that last goal they need to put teams away early. As it is, I'm just pleased they put that steaming pile they played for 56 minutes in Long Island behind them and showed a much higher quality effort tonight.
This game marked the halfway point of the 4th 10-game segment of the Lightning's season, and they already have 8 of the minimum 12 points you want in each segment. They've got a really good opportunity to not only hit their target for this segment but also, if they keep the hammer down, to rebuild some of the insurance points they lost in the last segment when they had to burn 3 of the 4 they had earned in the first 20 games of the year. If you're wondering, the Lightning have ~20 games to get through before Steven Stamkos' rumored target to return. So the goal needs to be to continue to stay on target through about 60 games of the season when, after some time to knock off the rust, you hope Stamkos can re-add about 1 goal a game to the offense when he comes back (statistically, that's about what his absence has meant). That could make a good Lightning team a great Lightning team if they can pull it out, because it's like adding a 50-goal scorer at the trade deadline for F-R-E-E!
Radko Gudas was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:23. As expected, his ice time went down a bit with Hedman back in the lineup. He also had to deal with the frustration of having no star forwards to drive insane tonight because Nashville doesn't have one. Zing!
Tyler Johnson had 1 shot and was 44% on draws in 20:40. His line was crazy active tonight. They did everything but light the lamp offensively.
Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 5 shots in 17:56. We can officially declare any slump he was in to be deceased, because he could've easily had another goal and he was nice and active all night long. You could see it coming once he switched back to wing. This is obviously the role he's comfortable in.
Ondrej Palat had 2 shots and 2 hits in 21:37. He's a crafty one, that Ondrej Palat. He'll take your wallet, keys, and your girl if you're not looking. He's sneaky good with and without the puck.
J.T. Brown was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:33. He shows good chemistry with old Syracuse linemate Kucherov from time to time.
Nikita Kucherov was +1 with 3 shots on goal in 11:36. He got stopped on a breakaway in this one and was dangerous throughout the game both shooting and passing the puck. His stickhandling skill puts a tremendous amount of pressure on defenders, and will benefit his linemates even more than Kucherov at this level because teams will break down defensively trying to stop Kucherov, which will free up space for other guys. There's two other guys, Drouin and Namestnikov, waiting in the wings who also have that ability. It'll be fun. Trust me.
J.P. Cote had his first NHL point - an assist - and 2 hits in 9:43. He's 31 years old and he got his first NHL point. Nice stuff. He looked pretty poised with the puck on breakouts. Very quick and crisp moving it. He got absolutely torched by Hornqvist on a 1-on-1 play in the First Period, though, and was used very sparingly thereafter. The coaches will be easing him in slowly.
Andrej Sustr had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 11:02. He's another guy who should see his ice time reduced a bit with Hedman back.
Richard Panik had a goal and was +2 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:09. He's about as complicated to read as Highlights Magazine. You can tell within the first couple of shifts every night if he's got it, usually, and tonight it was obvious early he was going to do something. He got one deflection goal and nearly had another and popped Hornqvist pretty good at the benches at center ice in the Third Period. Cooper had him on late with Nashville with the 6th attacker out because I think Cooper wanted to try to get Panik another goal to really get him rolling. If he can get back on track, that'd be a big bonus for the Lightning.