Hope springs up in an unexpected place.
Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.
Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.
Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.
Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.
Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.
Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.
Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.
Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.
The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)
4:45 ARI Ekman-Larsson (12), (Domi, Duclair)
6:39 ARI Vrbata (18), (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson)
18:24 ARI Murphy (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
Full disclosure: the power went off at my house about 15 minutes through the Second Period and didn't come back until late last night. So, the lights went out at my house shortly before they probably went out on the Lightning. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't have to witness that Third Period slide into the abyss. In a way, it's fitting. I declared the Lightning season more or less dead when the team got blown out in Arizona with one of the more feckless efforts of the season. At that point, the math simply didn't work out for a happy ending for the Lightning, and while they did an amazing job to play themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot the fact is there's been far too many nights like this one where the team didn't mind its details against opponents of all stripes and got lit up on the scoreboard. And, it's because of that the team is (probably) heading for early tee times this offseason and a lot of reflection on what might have been.
Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:53.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:17.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:32. He was also 80% on 10 draws.
Yanni Gourde had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. He too was 80% on 10 draws.
Adam Erne had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:50.
Joel Vermin had 2 shots in 11:57.
Crunch score a pair of goals in the final 1:11 to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 23 shots. Blew a Third Period lead giving up 2 goals. Got the goal support with 2 goals thereafter to get it back. Clean living.
11:05 RCH Austin (2), (Nelson, Kennedy)
19:11 SYR Peca (7), (Comrie, Taormina)(PP)
6:44 RCH Schneider (19), (O'Reilly, Fedun)(PP)
7:11 SYR Vermin (12), (Ward)
17:16 SYR Lynch (2), (Halmo, Vermin)
1:27 RCH Fasching (5), (Burgdoerfer, Grant)
12:49 RCH Fasching (6), (Mullen, Grant)
18:49 SYR Erne (14), (Peca, Comrie)(PP)
19:54 SYR Gourde (19), (Condra, Peca)
Adam Erne got the late equalizer on the power play. Since returning from injury he has a stylish 6 goals and 9 points in 7 games.
Syracuse is tied atop the North Division with Albany at 64 points with 2 games in hand on the Devils. Toronto lurks 2 points back with the Crunch holding a single game in hand on the Marlies.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.