Vernace, Michael

NHL Game Night: 10/24/10 Predators at Lightning

Much like the Admirals, the Lightning fall one goal short in their comeback bid.

NSH-4
TB-3

Dan Ellis allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss. The simplistic thing to say is that goaltending was the difference when you lose to a team you outshot 45-26.

First Period
06:30 TB Bergenheim (3), Kubina (2)
11:54 NSH Weber (1), Bouillon (2), O'Reilly (5)
15:04 NSH Kostitsyn (1), Spaling (1), Smithson (1)

Second Period
17:55 NSH Franson (2), Legwand (3), Tootoo (3)

Third Period
14:10 NSH Wilson (2), Erat (3), Dumont (4)
15:01 TB St Louis (3), Stamkos (7), Hedman (6)
15:58 TB Hall (1), Thompson (1), Lundin (2)

Sean Bergenheim was the game's third star. The Lightning's power play also went an uncustomary 0-for-4.

Dana Tyrell was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:08.

Michael Vernace had 1 shot in 9:51.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10/18/10 Stars at Lightning

Way too much drama at the end, but the Lightning win.

DAL-4
TB-5

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 19 shots for the win. Five goals worth of support can make a lot of goaltenders look good.

First Period
15:04 DAL Petersen (1), Robidas (1)(SH)
16:21 TB Downie (2), St Louis (4), Stamkos (3)(PP)
19:46 TB Stamkos (5), Hedman (2), Malone (4)(PP)

Second Period
06:04 DAL Burish (1), Ribeiro (6), Morrow (1)
09:26 TB Bergenheim (1), Stamkos (4), Purcell (3)
18:06 TB Moore (3), Kubina (1), Downie (4)(PP)

Third Period
06:11 TB Moore (4), Purcell (4), V. Hedman (3)(PP)
06:24 DAL Morrow (5), (unassisted)
19:00 DAL Neal (3), Richards (8), Ribeiro (7)

Victor Hedman, Dominic Moore, and Nate Thompson were the game's three stars.

When you outshoot a team 44-19, it's not supposed to be this close. The Lightning had good intensity, but they need to tighten up on the mental lapses.

Dana Tyrell was -1 with 2 shots in 14:25.

Michael Vernace was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 5:45.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10/16/10 Lightning at Panthers

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If the Panthers score six goals at their home opener... well... you get the point.

TB-0
FLA-6

Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 15 shots for the loss before being lifted for Mike Smith who allowed 3 goals on 23 shots the rest of the way. This loss was on the skaters, though.

First Period
01:50 FLA Stillman (1), McCabe (1), Dvorak (1)
14:25 FLA Booth (1), Matthias (1), Olesz (2)
15:13 FLA Reinprecht (1), Bernier (3), Santorelli (2)
18:15 FLA Wideman (1)(PP), Weiss (1), McCabe (2)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
07:49 FLA Booth (2), Olesz (3), McCabe (3)
17:25 FLAR Olesz (2), McCabe (4), Booth (3)

The Lightning may have been a little tired, or they may have been a little too pleased with themselves. Either way, they re-learned the valuable lesson that in the NHL, if you come out flat, you can get embarassed by anyone in the league on any given night. The good thing is that it's one of eighty-two games. Dallas Stars on Monday. Turn the page.

Mattias Ritola was -3 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:14. That +/- number looks terrible, but I thought he looked good in the offensive third and was one of the few Lightning players with any jump.

Michael Vernace was -1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:33. If I were Vernace, or Dana Tyrell, I'd be sweating bullets. There are a lot of players down in Norfolk playing some damned good hockey.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10/14/10 Lightning at Flyers

In just two nights, the Lightning have served notice to the Canadian and American hockey media: Tampa Bay is back.

TB-3
PHI-2

Dan Ellis stopped 24 of 26 shots for the victory in his Lightning debut. Seeing Ellis and Smith on back-to-back nights, I have to say the contrast was pretty stark. Smith looks slow-footed and stiff as a statue in comparison.

First Period
TB 15:11, Stamkos 4 (Downie, St. Louis)
PHI 17:03, Zherdev 1 (van Riemsdyk, Giroux)

Second Period
TB 14:49, Moore 2 (Hall, Clark)

Third Period
TB 1:27, Kubina 1 (Downie, St. Louis)
PHI 9:59, Briere 3 (Leino, Carle)

Simon Gagne and Steve Downie were the game's first and third stars. Hmmm, wonder why the Philly media selected them?

The fact the Lightning look only about 85 or 90% comfortable with Guy Boucher's system and they can still go on the road and defeat the reigning conference champs in their own barn is eye opening. The Flyers had a lot of puck possession and quite a few quality chances in this game, but the Lightning were opportunistic and staked themselves to a 2-1 road lead going into the third period and then jumped all over the Flyers early in the final frame to get the insurance marker they needed to guarantee the win. That third period performance can be credited to a couple of things: the Lightning being in very good condition and the Lightning being three lines deep.

Michael Vernace had one blocked shot in 7:12 in the win.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10/13/10 Lightning at Canadiens

C'est une belle chose.

TB-4
MTL-3 (OT)

Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the victory. He's a hot mess to watch, but the pucks are hitting him, and the Lightning have the offense to consistently get him to the pay window.

First Period
MTL 5:22, Lapierre 1 (unassisted)
MTL 18:07, Plekanec 1 (Cammalleri, Spacek)

Second Period
TB 1:44, Clark 1 (PP) (Purcell, Malone)

Third Period
TB 10:54, St. Louis 1 (Stamkos, Jones)
MTL 11:25, Kostitsyn 1 (Plekanec, Gorges)
TB 18:41, Stamkos 3 (PP) (Lecavalier, Malone)

Overtime
TB 4:09, Malone 1 (Moore)

Ryan Malone was named the game's first star. Shame on the Montreal media for showing such a lack of class to not give Lecavalier or Stamkos a star for the game tying goal. Shame on the Montreal fan base for booing like a bunch of Panthers fans (all three of them) and then throwing things on the ice when a Montreal defender fell down on the game tying goal. These are supposed to be some of the best fans in the NHL, and they acted the fool tonight. The hockey gods made sure to punish them on Malone's game winner.

The Lightning outshot the Habs 47 to 27. Teddy Purcell and Steven Stamkos each had 8 shots on goal to lead the way for Tampa Bay. Purcell's a part of the newly found depth the Lightning have, and Stamkos will be an MVP finalist if this keeps up. He has five points in the first two games and he's scoring big goals between the insurance marker against Atlanta and the tying goal tonight.

I'll keep saying it: I firmly believe Stamkos will win at least one Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in the next five years, and he might easily win two. He's got something special in the dedication department, and it's something a guy like Ovechkin lacks and something I think he has even more of than Sid Crosby. In the end equation, I have a feeling #91 is why Steve Yzerman took the Lightning job. It's easier to be successful when you inherit a Richard Trophy winner who works harder than 99.9% of the rest of the players in the league. He's like James Brown without the cape and a better shot; the hardest working man in showbiz today, and he's only 20 years old. Part of me is sickened by the fact the NHL isn't the least bit interested in building their brand around Stamkos and would rather market a punk like Ovechkin. On the other hand, the idea of Stamkos being allowed to lay in the weeds of the distraction-free media environment of Tampa Bay and what he could be able to accomplish in it without the spotlight on him intrigues me. In a way, I prefer not having the kind of zoo Montreal has around them on Stamkos' back trying to divert his attention from the only thing that matters to him right now: winning.

I'm not ashamed to say I loved the way Brett Clark played tonight. He looks to be really well suited for this system. He made a play in the offensive zone in overtime that I didn't believe he was capable of making by splitting two defenders and almost setting up a winning goal on his own. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this Lightning defense looks once Ohlund gets back from the shelf.

Dana Tyrell had 2 penalty minutes in 5:33 of ice time. Dana, brother, if you want ice time you can't be taking minor penalties when Boucher finally lets you hop the boards.

Michael Vernace was -1 with 1 shot in 10:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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