A brief moment of sweet schadenfreude before the bullets fly for real next week.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 38 shots and stopped all 3 shooters in the penalty shot session for the SO victory. He was sharp as a samurai sword tonight. That's good to see heading into the playoffs.
5:08 TB Marchessault (1), (unassisted)
6:00 BOS Eriksson (22), (Kelly, Seidenberg)
5:12 TB Nesterov (3), (Carle, Marchessault)
18:54 BOS Marchand (24), (Krug, Krejci)
Boston played the bulk of this game very desperate and very hungry, and the Lightning held back a lot of their injured players to rest with a view toward the playoffs starting next week. The shot deficit (38-25) and possession advantage Boston had reflects that they were the team that had more to play for (up until halfway through the Third Period when Pittsburgh put the last shovel-full of dirt on their graves). With that said, I give credit to the Lightning for matching Boston's intensity level and physicality, even though they didn't have the same urgency stalking them. They hustled. They scrapped. They got sticks and bodies in passing and shooting lanes. They manufactured a win. They'll have to do that a few times when they don't have their A-game in the playoffs coming up.
Tampa Bay gets Detroit in the First Round. I'm not scared of the matchup. If the Lightning play their game, they can beat Detroit. Handily. Time to start burying the memories of last April.
Marchessault had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 11:20. His goal was a beauty of a shot from the RW faceoff circle, and he was dangerous offensively in his TOI. He had at least one issue hanging in physically to get a puck out at his own blueline, but more good than bad. He's in a rough spot given how deep this organization is, but he's definitely knocking on the door of being an NHLer.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 8 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:14. He was one of the tone setters physically, and he darn near sawed McQuaid in half on one hit in this game. He even had a pretty fancy rush late in the game to nearly get the winner. Thought we were looking at Luke Witk-Orr for a minute. I suspect he'll head back to Syracuse now with Marchessault and bolster the Crunch's division title and playoff hopes.
Nesterov had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:39. NBCSN's broadcasters gushed about Nesterov's offensive assertiveness all game, and rightfully so. He's a classic pace-pushing offensive defenseman who comes out ahead on the ledger because he helps create way more chances than he surrenders. Yes, he got beat physically out of the corner by Marchand on one play in the First Period and had to take a minor. Yes, there's a turnover here and there. But, he comes out way ahead on the ledger, overall. Garrison, Sustr, and Coburn are all slated to return at some point in the opening round against Detroit. I'm not sure Nesterov sits, though. I think he may have earned a look-see in playoff action, a la Paquette last year, and maybe a guy like Barberio or Sustr sits instead.
P.S. Kick rocks, Jack Edwards.
One night after a come-from-behind win, the Syracuse Crunch just didn't have the same third period magic.
The Crunch, who scored three unanswered goals to top the Sound Tigers in overtime Friday, controlled play throughout most of the first period but went into the intermission trailing by one. Springfield turned the tables in the second and Syracuse's comeback fell short, as the Crunch lost to the Falcons, 3-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"I thought we started the game really well," said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. "I thought we were skating and generating a lot of chances in the first. In the second, they flipped it on us, and they had most of the momentum and were creating chances. In the third, we held play in their end but weren't generating any chances. For whatever reason there were opportunities but they didn't turn into good scoring chances for us."
Division title in peril.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss in his professional debut.
SYR Blujus, (3) (Martindale, Gourde), 11:21 (PP)
SPR Tynan, (12) (Pinkston, Vogelhuber), 14:05
SPR Anderson, (7) (Milano, St. Denis), 18:01
SPR Tynan, (13) (Collins, Milano), 12:05 (PP)
Dylan Blujus was the game's third star.
It wasn't surprising the team struggled to score with Jonathan Marchessault on emergency recall to Tampa with Jonathan Drouin under the weather. Losing Marchessault essentially guts the Crunch of the engine that makes their offense go. The good news is Drouin and a slew of other injured Lightning players will be back when the playoffs start next week, so I would expect Marchessault and Witkowski, at a minimum, to be back with the Crunch for the rest of their run this year.
Syracuse's lead in the division slipped to 2 points over Hartford with the loss.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
QMJHL-9 Charlottetown Islanders 2 @ QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 7
Quebec leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
W Adam Erne, QUE: 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 2 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 8-2-10, +2, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM
Adam Erne, our reigning Prospect of the Week, scored two goals for the third game in a row, leading the Remparts to a 7-2 Game 1 win over visiting Charlottetown. The Islanders are coached by former Lightning player Gordie Dwyer, who saw his team get down 6-0 by the end of the second period. Charlottetown beat out Cam Darcy and Sherbrooke 4-2 in the first round. Game 2 between the Islanders and Remparts is Sunday in Quebec City.
Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
East-3 Calgary Hitmen 3 @ East-2 Medicine Hat Tigers 1
Calgary leads best-of-7, 1-0
D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +2, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 0-3-3, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM
The Hitmen stole home ice advantage from the Tigers, winning Game 1 in Medicine Hat, 3-1. Calgary only mustered 14 shots on goal compared to 34 for Medicine Hat, but it was enough. Game 2 is Sunday.
Jonathan Marchessault netted a goal in the first minute and provided the offensive spark late.
The forward had a hand in every goal and the Crunch scored three unanswered goals after the second intermission, as Syracuse rallied past the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, in overtime at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"I thought he was the best player on the ice, in fact it wasn't even close in my mind," said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler of Marchessault, who finished with a goal and three assists. "He competed, he was really good offensively, he competed defensively, and he was the difference for us."
Comeback Crunch snap the streak.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the OT victory.
SYR Marchessault, (23) , 0:57
BRI Quine, (21) (Pulock, Jeffrey), 11:54 (PP)
BRI Langkow, (8) (Jeffrey, Quine), 14:12
BRI Gillies, (5) (Ness, Sundstrom), 17:31
SYR Kunyk, (10) (Marchessault, Martindale), 0:26
SYR Point, (1) (Marchessault, Martindale), 3:43 (PP)
SYR Martindale, (16) (Marchessault, Blujus), 3:17 (PP)
Brayden Point scored his first pro goal in the contest to tie the game early in the Third Period.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
North Dakota 3 vs Boston University Terriers 5
F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 40 GP, 13-8-21, +9, 35 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 34 GP, 7-11-18, +7, 10 PIM
D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 2-7-9, +18, 48 PIM
2013-2014 totals (USHL): 19 GP, 1-4-5, +1, 36 PIM
Lightning prospect John MacLeod will play for the national championship against Providence College on Saturday after his Boston University Terriers beat Brendan O’Donnell and North Dakota, 5-3, Thursday. BU had a 4-1 lead at one point before UND came fighting back to make it 4-3 with just over three minutes to play. O’Donnell had an assist on UND’s third goal. All-everything prospect Jack Eichel, who scored the game’s first goal, sealed the game with an empty netter with 19 seconds left.
While MacLeod, a freshman, is just beginning his college career, tonight was the final game for O’Donnell, a UND senior. He finished his final year with a career-high 21 points, matching his jersey number. O’Donnell is a prime candidate for a contract with the Lightning in the coming days, much like Matt Peca, Adam Wilcox, and Cameron Darcy before him. He could at least join AHL Syracuse on an AHL contract.
Ontario Hockey League
Western Conference Semifinals
West-4 Guelph Storm 3 @ West-1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 9
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 2-0
[i]D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-2-2, +4, 2 PIM]
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 0-12-12, +10, 10 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM
Guelph came out of the first two games of their series with the Soo with seven goals scored. Not too bad … until you consider the Greyhounds scored 16. Sheldon Keefe’s team scored on nine of 52 shots Thursday night to defeat the Storm, 9-3, and take a 2-0 series lead. Anthony DeAngelo had two more assists to add to his postseason totals, giving him 12 in six games. Game 3 is Sunday in Guelph.
Down to the wire.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the OT victory. The stat line was ugly, but the Devils got some puck luck in this game, and Ben made the toe save of the game on Cammalleri late in the Third to keep the Lightning alive.
5:06 NJ Bernier (15), (Henrique, Gomez)(PP)
6:26 TB Johnson (28), (Kucherov, Palat)
9:13 TB Nesterov (2), (Johnson, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 NJ Elias (13), (Gionta)
17:42 TB Stamkos (43), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)
17:58 NJ Bernier (16), (Henrique, Gomez)
1:22 TB Johnson (29), (Kucherov, Palat)(PP)
Honestly, I wasn't that upset with the effort, even though it took OT for the Lightning to dispose of New Jersey. The Devils got some favorable bounces on blocked shots, etc., but for the most part the Lightning controlled this game, outshooting their opponent 31-24. My only disappointment was the mental let downs after goals scored, but that's correctable. The bright side was that the power play went 3-for-8 and continues to pile up some goals over the last couple of weeks. If the Lightning can muster a power play in the playoffs, they may be unbeatable. That's a big if, mind you.
Unfortunately, Montreal beat Detroit in OT, so Montreal would have to lose in regulation in their finale against Toronto for the Lightning to have a chance to take the Atlantic Division. If they win the division, they could face Ottawa, Pittsburgh, or the Islanders in the first round. Should Tampa Bay stay in the Atlantic second seed spot, which is more likely, they'll probably get Detroit, although Ottawa could still nudge past the Wings at the tape.
The Lightning's finale is a tantalizing opportunity to give a team they've traditionally had difficulty with an early trip to the golf course. Boston lost to Florida tonight, so they cannot get into the Atlantic three seed, and any type of loss, regulation or OT, and Boston is done like dinner. My 2 cents: the Lightning should relish this opportunity to put Boston away now rather than potentially having to do it in some sort of 7 game series somewhere down the line. Put them into an early grave, I say.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots. He looks ticketed for a return to Syracuse with Andrej Sustr on track to possibly return for the Boston tilt. I'm thinking Luke's experience from this callup will allow him to focus his offseason attention on sharpening up some aspects of his game like handling and distributing the puck that he could get even more efficient at in order to become a regular NHLer. He's not quite there yet, but he's not a glaring liability, either. That next step's got to come, and I think it comes in the form of being a little bit less of a "hot potato" guy on the puck.
Nikita Nesterov had a goal and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:06. He changes the complexion of the Lightning's second PP unit with his shoot-first mentality, and the experience he's gained with the Lightning's injury issues will only benefit the squad in the form of reliable depth when other injuries happen in the playoffs. It's nice to know Nesterov can step up and play some quality minutes if necessary.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Cam Darcy to a three-year, two-way contract for the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, Darcy has signed an AHL amateur try out contract to play the remainder of the 2014-15 season with the Syracuse Crunch.
Darcy, 21, skated in 56 games during the 2014-15 season, splitting time between the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording 21 goals and 59 points to go along with 48 penalty minutes. The South Boston, Massachusetts native joined the Phoenix mid-way through the season and posted 20 goals and 45 points in 37 games with the club. Darcy also skated in six QMJHL playoff games with Sherbrooke, posting five goals and nine points. He led all Phoenix skaters for playoff goals and points.
The 6-foot, 183-pound forward has played in 121 QMJHL games over the past two seasons with Sherbrooke and Cape Breton, registering 56 goals and 141 points to go along with 99 penalty minutes. Darcy has also skated in 10 career postseason games, recording six goals and 12 points.