NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

TB-2
DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

Overtime
3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-23-17

Ontario Hockey League

Sarnia Sting 3 @ Erie Otters 6
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 11/17 FO
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 1-1-2, +3, 2 PIM, 7 SOG
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Raddysh and Cirelli both had a goal and an assist and Erik Cernak chipped in a helper as Erie beat Sarnia in Game 1 of their opening round series, 6-3.

Flint Firebirds 2 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 1 SOG, *Third Star*
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Katchouk scored in the third period to thwart a Flint rally and put the Soo up 4-2. They’d win, 5-2, after Katchouk had an assist on the fifth goal.

Niagara IceDogs 2 @ Peterborough Petes 5
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 17/25 FO
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Petes struck first in their series against Niagara, with former IceDog Christopher Paquette notching an assist from his top-line center spot.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.

TB-6
BOS-3

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.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
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)

Third Period
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.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 3-23-17

KHL Western Conference Finals
(2)St. Petersburg 5 vs. (4)Yaroslavl 4 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 1-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff totals: 9 GP, 4-6-10, +2, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

SKA overcame a 2 goal Third Period deficit with a comeback that included a tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation to post a 5-4 Game One OT triumph over Yaroslavl in the KHL Western Conference Finals. Nikita Gusev scored the first goal of the comeback of the power play and then setup the game winner in Overtime. He played 18:51 in the match. Linemate Vadim Shipachyov had assists in triplicate for SKA in the win.

ECHL Game Night: 3-22-17

Florida Everblades 2 at Kalamazoo Wings 3

F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIMS, 1 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 26 GP, 3-4-7, -2, 4 PIMs, 46 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals (ECHL): 13 GP, 4-13-17, +10, 6 PIMs, 37 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play
Season Totals: 28 GP, 16-10-0-1, 2.88 GAA, 0.903 SV%, 1 SO

F Brendan O'Donnell, FLA, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 52 GP, 36-30-66, +27, 35 PIMs, 207 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 6 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 0 PIMs

The K-Wings scored two first period goals Wednesday night against the perennial ECHL powerhouse Florida Everblades, and then added a third period insurance marker to seal the eventual 3-2 victory. It was an important home win for Kalamazoo after last weekend's disappointing split against the Indy Fuel. Joel Martin stopped 30 shots in his 2nd consecutive start after the Fuel roughed up Nic Riopel last Friday night, and both Bolt prospect forwards Cam Darcy and Brian Hart got helpers on that important third period goal with a tic-tac-toe play to set up Peter Schneider's 2nd goal of the night. The K-Wings also held former Bolt prospect Brendan O'Donnell scoreless in the contest, which is usually a tall order given that O'Donnell leads the ECHL with 36 goals in 52 games. Kalamazoo now turns its attention to a back-to-back home stand Friday and Saturday night against the Norfolk Admirals, needing just 1 point to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth.

NHL Game Night: 3-22-17 Coyotes at Lightning

The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.

ARI-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)

Second Period
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)

Third Period
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.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Crunch's McGinn Comes Back Strong After Missing Four Months


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tye McGinn knew he couldn’t sit around and sulk.

The Syracuse Crunch winger missed 53 games over the course of four-plus months as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery, but hardly took the time off. Instead, he put in the work to come back stronger than before.

McGinn and the Crunch have seen immediate dividends, as the veteran forward has points in eight of his last nine games since returning.

“I dedicated a lot of the four months of rehab to working hard,” McGinn said. “I wanted to be in top shape when I came back, and I did a lot of work with the trainers and felt really good coming back. I think our team is playing really well right now, and I’m just kind of working with everyone. The puck is just going in right now.”

Bolts Ink Hajek to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Libor Hajek (LEE-bohr, HIGH-ak) to a three-year, two-way entry level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Hajek, 19, skated in 65 games with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League this season, recording four goals and 26 points to go along with 81 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound defenseman ranked second on the Blades for penalty minutes. Hajek also ranked second among all Saskatoon defensemen for assists (22) and points.

The Smrcek, Czech Republic native has appeared in 134 career WHL games, all with Saskatoon over the past two seasons, posting seven goals and 52 points to go along with 157 penalty minutes. He led all Saskatoon rookies for points and assists with 23 during the 2015-16 season. Hajek was selected second overall at the 2015 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

Hajek was originally drafted by the Lightning in the second round, 37th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.

Hajek Signs With Lightning, Will Join Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Libor Hajek signed a three-year entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday.

The defenseman, who was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft by the Lightning after they dealt Anthony DeAngelo to the Arizona Coyotes for the pick, wrapped up his second season with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League last weekend.

Hajek also signed an amateur tryout with Syracuse, and Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said he is expected to practice with Syracuse Wednesday.

“I saw Libor in camp in September. He's a good, young defenseman who skates well,” Groulx said of the 6-2, 202-pounder. “We’ll see how it plays out with him. We’ve got to see him in practice first, and obviously it’s a huge adjustment playing against junior and against men.”

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 93

This week’s “Daren Puppa Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 93
· TB’s first great goaltender
· How close are the Lightning to the edge of the cliff?
· Junior season over; playoffs loom
· Prospect thoughts based on rankings, 16-25

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