Flat Lightning done in by late mistakes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the loss. He deserved better. He was the only reason the team had a chance in this game at all.
4:13 TB Kucherov (26), (Drouin, Carle)
10:00 WPG Stafford (14), (Stempniak, Tlusty)(PP)
12:44 WPG Wheeler (20), (unassisted)
Vasilevskiy was the game's third star.
This was a trap game, and the Lightning fell right into it. You look at the opposition over this 4 game stretch: Montreal, Boston, Winnipeg, Montreal. Yep, one of those things is not like the others, and the Lightning didn't have their intensity tonight. They worked themselves into pretty strong position to get 1-2 points, though, thanks to Vasilevskiy's goaltending and Kucherov's Third Period snipe. Even with the Jets tying it after Kucherov got kicked out of the game for face planting Enstron they were in ok shape. Riiight before Hedman decided to essentially hand Wheeler the GWG. A worse turnover you will not see in this league, and it's completely unacceptable from your franchise cornerstone defenseman.
Through 70 games the Lightning have 91 points, having once again met the 12-in-10 threshold in segment 7 of the season. They actually got 13 points, meaning they've got 7 insurance points in hand heading into the final segment of the year. 5 points should tie up playoff position comfortably, but it's the banner the Lightning are looking for, and they did themselves no favors tonight with that endeavor.
Mike Angelidis had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 7:05. He was also 17% on 6 draws.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 15:09.
Lightning win a shootout against some Texans.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the victory. The stat line isn't pretty, but he made several key saves in the Third Period to preserve the victory for the Lightning. Were it not for Fiddler's goal with under 3 seconds left, which might've been kicked in, it'd look a lot better.
12:59 TB Stralman (6), (Palat)(PP)
14:24 DAL Seguin (30), (Spezza, Ja. Benn)(PP)
15:52 TB Kucherov (25), (Palat, Coburn)
3:52 DAL Seguin (31), (Klingberg)
11:03 DAL Fiddler (9), (Goligoski, Sceviour)
3:40 TB Killorn (14), (Callahan, Hedman)
5:31 TB Hedman (9), (Johnson, Palat)
19:36 TB Boyle (14), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:57 DAL Fiddler (10), (Jo. Benn, Sceviour)
That was hardly artful, but effective in the end. The Stars defense ultimately just wasn't going to be able to stop the Lightning unless Enroth stood on his head. He didn't and therefore they didn't. Just that simple, really.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 hits in 12:50. He was very effective in limited ice time, helping to set up a handful of prime chances. He's gone to dirty areas and he showed good vision and decision-making off the rush.
Let there be kittens!
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 28 shots he faced for his first career NHL shutout. He got the emergency start for the Lightning after Bishop got injured earlier in the day and he made a huge difference by standing on his head while the Lightning sleepwalked through the first 5-10 minutes of the game.
16:37 TB Stamkos (36), (Killorn, Sustr)
2:48 TB Callahan (20), (Johnson, Filppula)(PP)
4:24 TB Hedman (8), (Stralman, Palat)(PP)
Vasilevskiy, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden "Rooster" Coburn were the game's three stars.
It's hard to read too much into the night's festivities given the defensive pairs were shuffled with the addition of Coburn and, more importantly, because Buffalo is sporting a lineup right now that's probably just barely an even match for the Syracuse Crunch.
Still, it's a big 2 points to close within 3 of Montreal. That Panthers loss still stings, though.
No prospect skaters in the lineup tonight. Really.
Tough return for Vasiy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
SYR Gourde, (19) (Mormina, Namestnikov), 11:34
RCH Leduc, (6) (Austin, D'Amigo), 14:02 (PP)
RCH Irwin, (12) (Schaller, Austin), 18:06
RCH Dalpe, (16) (Carrier), 7:50
RCH Irwin, (13) (D'Amigo, Schaller), 13:13
SYR Mormina, (3) (Marchessault, Angelidis), 14:52
SYR Namestnikov, (13) (Marchessault, Dotchin), 17:15
Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's third star. He's now at a solid 32 points in 32 games.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Defense falls apart at the end of the road.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 18 shots. The stat line looks terrible but there was really only one goal I felt was one that he'd definitely want back. With that said, part of being an elite goaltender is keeping your team in contact and at least giving them a chance by making 1-2 key stops. He didn't do that tonight by allowing the team to fall behind by 3 in the Third Period, which is almost always a death sentence.
10:53 TB Palat (15), (Johnson)
16:21 COL MacKinnon (10), (Landeskog)
3:10 COL MacKinnon (11), (O'Reilly, Barrie)
3:39 COL Duchene (16), (unassisted)
5:51 TB Johnson (23), (Kucherov, Killorn)
12:50 COL MacKinnon (12), (O'Reilly)
7:20 COL Tanguay (16), (Everberg)
11:43 TB Connolly (12), (Filppula, Paquette)
18:58 TB Kucherov (23), (Johnson, Hedman)
In the universe I come from, if you score 4 goals and hold your opponent to 18 shots, you should win. The only time that doesn't happen is when you have self-inflicted wounds like really terrible turnovers against a skilled team. And, that's what happened tonight. This youthful defense the Lightning have patched together with Carle and Gudas out has been such a mixed bag. They'll play 2-3 decent games and then absolutely wet the bed like they did tonight. Nesterov, Barberio, and Hedman each had plays I think they'd want back, and it really burned the Lightning hard tonight.
Hedman's inclusion on the goat horn list is particularly vexing given what I've said about best players needing to be best players. So is Steven Stamkos checking in at -3 and 31% on draws. Were both guys so awful they should be traded? No, but as I've said those two guys really need to start being the Lightning's top players night in and night out. Stamkos is the engine that makes Callahan go, and the young defense just seems to go as Hedman goes. God bless the Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line, but I don't want them to have to carry the team in the playoffs and I don't want a guy like Stralman or Garrison to have to play over their head. Stamkos and Hedman are trophy-winning caliber talents who need to start playing like it. I'm not saying it to be mean or to run the guys out of town, it's just the expectations have to rise now.
It's too bad. Winning 4 of 5 on this road trip would've been a wildly successful outcome. 3 out of 5 is minimally acceptable, but leaving 2 winnable points on the ice like the team did tonight will ultimately cost them an Atlantic Division banner at the end of the year, barring them finding their next gear.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:29. He and Garrison got split on MacKinnon's first goal and he made the absolutely horrible turnover of Duchene's goal. That turnover gets you demoted on a lot of teams. As it is, it might get him a seat in the pressbox, at least.