Crunch finds the antidote to rid themselves of UTI.
Kristers Gudlevskis put on a show, turning aside 39 of 41 shots for the win, therby helping Syracuse overcome a 41-17 shot deficit.
6:54 SYR Erne (11), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
5:52 SYR Gourde (18), (Conacher)(SH)
10:12 UTI Rendulic (5), (Kunyk, Grenier)(PP)
13:25 SYR Vermin (11), (Peca)
13:52 UTI Pedan (3), (Archibald)
Gudlevskis and Joel Vermin were the game's first and second stars.
Adam Erne now has goals in each of his two games since returning from injury. You can't help but wonder if his cup of coffee with the Lightning gave him an extra jolt of confidence that's showing up in his play. He's a first round caliber talent if he puts it all together.
Syracuse moves 1 point up on Albany for the top spot in the North Division with the win.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Late mistake costs Crunch.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.
13:06 BNG Bailey (12), (Harpur, McCormick)
4:07 BNG Englund (2), (Varone, Akeson)
17:22 SYR Vermin (10), (Conacher, Gourde)
9:03 SYR Morin (9), (unassisted)(PS)
19:06 BNG McCormick (13), (Flanagan)(SH)
Joel Vermin was the game's second star.
The stunning late loss stings with the Crunch 1 point behind Albany for the top spot in the North Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of a losing streak being snapped!
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 16 shots before conceding to 2 of 4 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stat line isn't great, but he made some key situational saves over the course of the game to eventually get the victory.
8:14 ANH Montour (1), (Silfverberg, Kesler)
9:48 TB Drouin (15), (Johnson, Kucherov)
10:56 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov)(PP)
4:02 ANH Getzlaf (8), (Bieksa, Kesler)
ANH- Silfverberg, Kesler
TB- Point, Kucherov, Boyle
Styles make the fight, and the quicker Tampa Bay Lightning drew a good matchup against a more plodding, big Anaheim team on the back end of a back-to-back situation. Tampa Bay didn't squander that advantage, playing with far more hustle than they did in the previous two contests. Clearly Jon Cooper challenged his guys to show some heart after the travesty of the past couple of outings, and it showed. More importantly, they actually got the payoff.
Brayden Point was -1 with 1 shot in 16:29. He was also 60% on 5 draws. He played well on some shifts with Drouin, which is something to watch going forward, in my opinion. And, he remains cash money all night in the Shootout.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:08. This was probably his best game at the NHL level thus far. Again, styles make the fight, and these Anaheim players aren't necessarily the speedsters who will give Dotchin trouble. He was assertive physically in separating guys from the puck and starting the breakout thereafter throughout the night.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 6:00 even. He also was 83% on 6 draws.
Joel Vermin had 2 hits in 6:45.
Soft goal and lack of finishing doom promising Lightning performance.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the loss. His soft goal to start the Third Period ultimately became the margin of losing, which soft goals often do. Ben Bishop got away with it against the Kings and managed to salvage a point against the Ducks with questionable mistakes, but it's not sustainable for any team to regularly be spotting teams a free goal.
5:01 SJ Carpenter (2), (Martin, Burns)
6:51 TB Drouin (14), (Boyle, Kucherov)(PP)
0:22 SJ Couture (15), (Labanc, Donskoi)
Jonathan Drouin was the game's second star. His highlight reel goal was the lone bright spot in another frustrating night at the office for the Lightning's finishers. They had some chances, but ultimately 25 shots and a correspondingly low number of overall scoring chances isn't enough. Better play is needed from the likes of Nikita Kucherov and the team's other big guns even as they start to get the defensive side of their game right.
The loss means Tampa Bay will again lose ground on playoff pacing in this 10-game segment of the season. How much? That remains to be seen. The team will be at least 7 points off pace by the end of the segment.
Luke Witkowski had 2 shots, 2 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:58.
Gabriel Dumont had 5 hits in 10:17.
Joel Vermin was -2 with 2 hits in 5:17.
Lightning close out a .500 road trip.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before allowing 2 of 3 to convert in the Shootout for the penalty shot session loss. What's the difference between this game and the game against Vancouver? One less bit of bad luck, but more importantly better situational goaltending and no softies. Bishop made sure the Lightning kept contact in the First and Second Periods. It's a shame his PK couldn't help him get it over the finish line in regulation. He played well.
3:58 EDM Lucic (9), (Draisaitl, Sekera)(PP)
18:59 TB Drouin (7), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
2:35 TB Johnson (9), (Conacher, Nesterov)
7:03 EDM Draisaitl (14), (Letestu, Sekera)(PP)
EDM- Letestu, McDavid
Victor Hedman was the game's second star. He played 28:26 tonight on the tail of a back-to-back and was good from the first shift to the last.
Coming into this game, after looking underwhelming against the Canucks and losing Paquette from the lineup, the expectations were low for the night. In pregame, the HNIC crew didn't mince words about Tampa's chances, or lack thereof. The Lightning weathered kind of a tough First Period just continued to get stronger at 5v5 as the game wore on. By the Third Period, despite being the more road weary team, they were fairly dominant in possession and managed to build the 2-1 lead. It's tough that they couldn't close it out in regulation and tough Namestnikov had a chance in OT that came within an eyelash of securing the second point, but there was a lot to like tonight. Under the gun with roster issues and fatigue issues, the Lightning trusted their structure and played well within it. When guys like Palat and Kucherov return, there's reasons for optimism even though there's no moral victories with the standings situation what it is at the moment.
Brayden Point had a helper, 2 PIMs, and 1 shot in 23:33. He was also 30% on 10 draws. Tonight was one of the 2-3 best games he's had all season, faceoffs aside, and his ice time reflected it.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 7:23. He got on the wrong side of a 50/50 play and took the penalty that allowed Edmonton to tie the game at 2-2. Later in the game he made a decent breakout play under duress in a key shift late in the Third Period. Mixed bag.
Joel Vermin had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:42. He crushed Sekera on a hit that was a thing of beauty.
Lightning close clunker of a season segment with a critical win.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the victory. That's not a sexy stat line and it wasn't a flawless night from Bishop in terms of positioning and rebound control, but he had 2-3 really crucial situational saves that helped the team earn the win. At this juncture, those are way more important in the grand scheme of things.
3:06 CGY Brouwer (7), (Monahan, Brodie)(PP)
10:04 TB Boyle (5), (Hedman, Johnson)(PP)
13:42 TB Boyle (6), (Filppula, Hedman)
4:40 TB Coburn (1), (Killorn, Namestnikov)
18:47 TB Sustr (1), (Filppula, Hedman)
0:37 TB Killorn (9), (unassisted)(SH)
3:59 CGY Brodie (2), (Gaudreau, Brouwer)(PP)
4:20 CGY Ferland (5), (Stajan, Bouma)
19:15 TB Killorn (10), (Filppula)(EN)
The Lightning desperately needed this game, and even with Nikita Kucherov out of the lineup they handled Calgary in fairly convincing fashion. The penalty kill is still not fully well having allowed 2 more power play markers in this contest, and Bishop wasn't textbook in net, but overall a lot of players started to get well in this game and the team carried the balance of 5 on 5 play by a reasonable margin. In particular, the most hopeful sign to me was a rebound performance by Victor Hedman in all three zones. Assists in triplicate stand out on the scoresheet, but some key situational defensive plays were equally as important. Hedman hasn't been making those plays consistently during this slump and has been handing out some bad turnovers. That was cleaned up in this game and it's no coincidence the team plays a lot better when Victor's playing his A game.
With the third 10-game segment of the season in the books, the Lightning sit at 32 points, which is 4 points off the pace you'd like them to be at for the season (technically, 3 points back of Boston for the closest playoff spot in the actual standings with 1 game in hand). They had just 7 of the preferred 12 points in this last segment after being a point ahead of pace through 20 games. Being 4 points behind isn't great, but it's manageable provided the Lightning start to put together successful 10-game segments from here on out. Last season they went on a long winning streak to cancel out a mid-season deficit, but you can't always count on those kind of tears to get you out of trouble. A more reasonable strategy is to aim at seeing if they can get 13-14 points out of this next 10-game stretch and start to whittle that number down until they get back on pace after another 20-30 games. Bottom line: if they had lost this game it might've been time to get panicky. The win tonight puts them in a position to weather the storm if they keep tightening up their game without too much undue hardship.
Brayden Point was +1 with 1 shot and was a gaudy 78% on 9 draws in 15:40.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 3 shots and 3 blocked shots in 13:38.
Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 13:52.
Despite valiant effort, the hole gets deeper for Tampa Bay.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 37 shots for the loss. A lot of bang-bang plays from prime scoring areas a big gunners. Can't blame Vasilevskiy for those.
12:03 PIT Crosby (19), (Dumoulin, Letang)
17:57 TB Drouin (5), (Stralman, Kucherov)(PP)
3:38 TB Filppula (6), (Nesterov)
10:19 TB Drouin (6), (Garrison, Namestnikov)
17:25 PIT Malkin (11), (Kessel, Letang)(PP)
5:08 PIT Crosby (20), (Kessel, Letang)(PP)
8:36 PIT Malkin (12), (Daley, Kessel)(PP)
Jonathan Drouin as the game's second star after leaving the game for stitches with a cut on his cheek in the First Period and coming back to score two goals. His performance is something to build on moving forward.
Tampa Bay got outshot 37-23, so I cannot sit here with a straight face and tell you the Lightning were the better team in the run of play tonight. But, 5 on 5, I do think they competed hard and defended fairly well, and it hurts that this is the result they got. Pittsburgh got the benefit of their usual officiating advantage and they rode it to the win on the power play, and even still Val Filppula had a wide open cage on a chance he shot back into Murray that should've allowed Tampa Bay to get at least a point out of the night. The problem is there are no moral victories at this point, and after the Lightning close out this 10-game segment of the season they will be at least 4 points behind a comfortable playoff pace. Those are hard points to be chasing down the rest of the season.
Brayden Point was 64% on draws in 15:33. Impressive work.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 3 hits in 7:46.
Joel Vermin was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:57.
Shaky Lightning crumble under adversity.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss before being lifted for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed 1 goal on 10 shots the rest of the way. Bishop had shown signs of returning to his Vezina candidate form last week, but tonight was a tragic disaster. He was nowhere near square to the puck on Vancouver's first goal and he scored an own goal pushing a puck he was attempting to cover into his own net on a shot off the end boards on Vancouver's second tally. Bishop, in previous years, has been rock solid in First Periods and generally reliable when it comes to making timely saves. Not at all the case this year. Nope. And, this team is simply too fragile to be getting poor goaltending right now.
3:50 VAN Skille (1), (Gudbranson)
9:03 VAN Gudbranson (1), (unassisted)
6:01 VAN Megna (2), (Biega, Tryamkin)
11:46 TB Drouin (4), (Filppula, Witkowski)
19:59 VAN Megna (3), (Sedin, Granlund)
13:58 VAN Skille (2), (Gaunce)
After a seemingly marathon stretch where the Lightning barely had more than a day off in between games the weary Lightning finally had 3 days off before this one against a Vancouver team that was not exactly feasting in the standings. The team came out the first handful of shifts in the game and were dominant and looked absolutely the better team, until Jack Skille got matched up 1-on-1 on Nikita Kucherov backing up for a pinching defenseman. Skille turns the corner with a power move and beats Bishop, who was not square to the puck on the shot, and the Lightning momentum was cooked. The ball of yarn starts to unravel. Minutes later Bishop pushes an innocuous shot off the end boards into his own cage to put the Lightning down 2-0, and here we go again. The Lightning are a difficult muddle of self-inflicted mistakes and awful bounces right now, wrapped in a flimsy tattered sheath of inconsistent goaltending. I wanted to say the Lightning had lost their process in this game once adversity hit, but that's not entirely the case. They had 41 shots on goal and outchanced Vancouver. But the mental mistakes that creeped in with turnovers around the opposing blueline and in the neutral zone leading to odd man rushes and the piss poor coverage by backchecking players against the rush revealed that the Lightning have not fully returned to the structure that helped make them an elite club over the last 2+ seasons. The kill shot in this game, which was an awful turnover in the neutral zone to allow a 2-on-1 goal with less than 2 seconds left in the Second Period to put the game out of reach, was the postcard example of a lot of what's wrong outside of the Lightning crease these days.
Where do we go from here? The Lightning will be in a hole at the end of this 10 game segment, when it comes to playoff pacing. Even if they win out over the last 2 games, they'll be at least 2 points in the hole, and the defending Stanley Cup Champions are coming to town. I don't relish seeing what the results of this measuring stick game will be, quite frankly. What needs to change? A goaltender needs to start making some timely saves and help this team find its backbone and its confidence and hope that helps the team play better structure in its own end and manage the puck better coming out of their own end.
Brayden Point was +1 with 5 shots in 15:32. Instincts are good. Skill level is good. Shot isn't NHL caliber yet. His release is plenty quick, but he doesn't have the steam to score on NHL goaltenders consistently. Give him a summer or two to work on it and he'll start putting away 20-30 a season easy, I think.
Luke Witkowski had a helper and 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:45. Congratulations to Witkowski on earning his first NHL point.
Joel Vermin had 2 shots and 1 hit in 12:49.
Lightning grind out a road point before a much needed rest.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the OT loss. It wasn't a great goal to allow, but he made several fantastic stops in regulation just to make OT possible.
1:26 CAR DiGiuseppe (1), (Stalberg)
Bishop was the game's third star.
The Lightning emptied the tank tonight knowing they have a rare 3 day break coming up before their next game on Thursday night. This is a tired, banged up team that is in the middle of a November/December schedule that is relentless in its pacing. 3 of 4 points on this weekend set may mean the Lightning can't finish with 12 points in this 10 game segment of the year, but they're still alive to stay on playoff pace in the final 3 games of the segment if they can harness the rest they're getting this week to gather themselves and string together some more wins.
Brayden Point had 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 15:52.
Luke Witkowski had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 10:55.
Slater Koekkoek had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 14:59.
Joel Vermin had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:46.
Lightning snap losing streak with unexpected gem against a longtime tormentor.
Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 35 shots before stopping 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Bishop was, apparently, pretty sore about not getting the start in hometown St. Louis and was out to make a point tonight. He played well and made key saves at key junctures, before making the big stops in the Shootout to secure the second point. That's one area I can say Bishop's looked better in this season: he's sewed up that five hole and looks a lot more competent in the penalty shot skills competition.
12:38 TB Kucherov (13), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
6:24 Backstrom (7), (Carlson, Johansson)(PP)
TB- Point, Boyle
Nikita Kucherov and Bishop were the game's first and third stars.
There were signs of life for the Lightning in the second half of their loss on the road in St. Louis, but coming into tonight against a Washington team that they historically struggle against (in the regular season) there wasn't a lot to hang your hat on with the way the team has been playing lately. I didn't get by Blujus recall, as he hurt his groin earlier this week in Syracuse, but the Lightning did scratch the struggling Nikita Nesterov and commit to giving more minutes to Koekkoek and Witkowski. That was a prerequisite for having any chance from the word jump, and I'm glad Cooper went ahead and made that lineup adjustment. What transpired from there was, by in large, the most focused and impressive three zone effort I think I've seen from the Lightning this season. Through about 35 minutes, they played about as clean and crisp a game as possible. They moved the puck out of their zone crisply and cleanly and contested every inch of the ice against a very quality opponent. Gone were the turnovers and odd man rushes that have marred so much of the team's games over the last two weeks. In their place was a singular resolve to win a hockey game that showed up in every single man up and down that bench. They got a little sloppier on the breakouts after Kucherov's power play goal, and didn't stay out of the box as much as they needed to in the Third Period, where Backstrom tied the game. But, in the end, they deserved the two points and they finally got them with the heroics of Point, Boyle, and Bishop in the Shootout.
Brayden Point had 1 hit in 17:13. It doesn't show up in the scoresheet, but I thought he had an incredibly poised effort tonight with the puck for the Lightning. Just made some really good decisions that allowed the Lightning to either continue possession or stay away from trouble. He's been doing it a lot this season, but tonight he did it against one of the higher quality opponents you'll see.
Luke Witkowski had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:10. He played well tonight. He doesn't bring you the "upside" that Nesterov has, but there's something to be said of a lower pair defenseman who plays a simple game and doesn't make stupid decisions that get you in trouble. Nolan Pratt has his name on the Stanley Cup and all the love in the world from Lightning fans for just that reason.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 2 hits in 15:04. Just keep feeding him minutes. He can take it athletically. He just needs the experience. Give. It. To. Him. The Lightning will not regret it if they do.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot and 3 hits in 15:43. He played another dynamite game as evidenced by Cooper putting Vermin out for the Overtime session. He looks like a player who, if he keeps it up, has the potential to stick.