NHL Game Day: 1-2-10 Penguins at Lightning

The Lightning start 2010 with a signature victory.

PIT-1
TB-3

Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 26 shots for the win. He got the benefit of three posts and the goal he allowed was off a bad rebound, but who cares? Just win, baby.

First Period
TB 1:03, St. Louis 9 (Ohlund, Stamkos)
PIT 17:15, Guerin 13 (Staal, McKee)

Second Period
TB 14:26, Konopka 2 (Downie, Stamkos)

Third Period
TB 7:11, Downie 8 (Ohlund, Lecavalier)

So the Lightning reach the halfway point of the season at 16-15-10, 1 game over .500 with 42 points in the standings. They're now just a single point out of eighth in the East and they currently sit alone in 9th place pending the outcome of Atlanta's game against the Isles tonight.

Want to win a city over? Tomorrow is the Bucs last game of the season. The Rays don't start Spring Training up for a little while. The Lightning are about to have the stage to themselves and they went out and thumped the defending Stanley Cup champs in front of a crowd of 20,000+ in a very entertaining style of game. That's a signature victory and a good way to pull the partisans in for the second half. The Lightning will need the support, because they'll need to crank it up even more in the second half to make the postseason. I suspect it'll take 92-94 points to get in. Right now they're on a pace for 84. No rest for the wicked.

It's been like a breath of fresh air since Jones was recalled and Krajicek was sent down and the roster finally took, more or less, the shape I think most of us expected it to at the start of the season (sans, of course, Paul Ranger). Having the youthful physicality of guys like Jones and Matt Smaby (+1 with 3 hits tonight and didn't mind telling Ruslan Fedotenko what to do with himself at one point during the game) has started to give the Lightning the personalty it was lacking for the first third of the season. I'm fine with it being a young team and I'm fine with there being a few more mistakes, because I think having some more jam and some more hustle helps light a fire under the whole team. This is going to be an exciting second half to watch unfold. I don't think we're going to be talking about lottery position come March this year.

Zenon Konopka had a goal and 2 penalty minutes to go along with 2 shots, 1 hit, and a 57% faceoff percentage in 8:31. Game winning goal! Konopka will graduate from overage prospect status on Bolt Prospects in his next game. It's hard not to love the guy.

Paul Szczechura had 4 shots, 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, and he was 22% on draws. The turning point of the game, in my opinion, was a second period penalty kill where Szczechura's group was on for the full two minutes and Paul was forced to play without a stick. He showed incredible athleticism to stay in passsing and shooting lanes and he actually got his feet on a couple of Penguins attempts. I think you could see the Lightning's energy level go to 11 after they killed that penalty off, and Konopka scored the winner shortly thereafter.

James Wright was -1 in 6:13. He will graduate from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects in his next game.

Blair Jones had 3 shots and 1 hit in 13:13. The goals are going to come. He could've had one in the third period on a rebound off a Szczechura slap shot, but Fleury was very quick to stop the bid. If he keeps getting 3-4 shots a game, though, they're going to start going in. He's got a very good shot. Ask the Admirals fans.

Victor Hedman was -1 with 1 hit in 22:37. Big Victor is 2 games away from graduation here on Bolt Prospects. In other words, expect the new Midterm Rankings soon.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.