NHL Game Night: 4-10-14 Flyers at Lightning

The sun still rises in Tampa Bay.

PHI-2
TB-4

Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the victory tonight, 1 of which was an own goal tipped in by Palat. Lindback was magnificent, as he was in relief in the last game against Toronto. Is he as athletic and aesthetically pleasing as Ben Bishop between the pipes? No. Is he fully capable of stopping pucks? Yes, and he showed resiliency and mental toughness by not cracking after the Flyers broke through on him. He stayed focus, got a good team effort in front of him (including some street hockey netminding by Gudas) and got the W.

First Period
2:00 TB Johnson (24), (Stamkos, Kostka)

Second Period
18:39 PHI Simmonds (27), (Giroux, Voracek)(PP)

Third Period
4:33 TB Panik (3), (Hedman, Kostka)
9:43 TB Brewer (2), (Johnson, Palat)
12:22 PHI Couturier (12), (Streit)
14:14 TB Stamkos (25), (Filppula, Hedman)(PP)

Lindback, Tyler Johnson, and Richard Panik were the game's three stars.

Let it not be said that this Lightning team packs it in the second they hit a bump in the road. There was a lot of hand wringing and consternation with the injury to Ben Bishop that will, at a minimum, shut him down for the rest of the regular season. But, much like when Stamkos broke his leg and the captain of the team decided he wanted to go to Broadway, the Lightning circled the wagons. They came out very strong tonight and got a quick goal on Philly, which was great. I thought they took their foot off the gas through to the end of the Second Period, which was not good, but Lindback has something to prove and he played fantastic to keep the Lightning in it until they broke it open in the Third Period, where only a goofy own goal blemished a complete 20 minute team effort. So, the sky didn't fall and, in fact, with Montreal losing tonight the Lightning can get home ice in the first round if they win out in the final 2 games of the regular season.

Throughout the campaign, I've written regularly about segment goals with the team, with an eye on 96 points in 80 games. With the victory tonight, the Lightning nailed down 97 points in 80 games and they got the target number of 12 in the 8th and final segment of the year. In games 81 and 82, if they can get at least 3 of the 4 possible points, they have an opportunity to get to 100 points, which is truly an accomplishment for any team, let alone one this young.

Mike Kostka returned from his concussion with 2 assists, a +3 rating, and 1 blocked shot in 14:18. Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you.

Andrej Sustr had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 19:36. It wasn't Andrej's best game, as I've seen him a lot tighter and under control defensively, but it's still pretty good that you can play him 19+ minutes and not worry about him completely wetting the bed. With the appearance tonight, Sustr reaches 41 NHL games played this season, which graduates him from prospect status on the website. Sustr becomes the 10th prospect to graduate this season, finishing out a class the likes of which we may never see again. To put this in perspective, there were only 10 prospects that graduated on the site in the previous 4 seasons combined (I looked it up). Congratulations to Andrej and everyone in the 2013-2014 Bolt Prospects Alumni class.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

New Syracuse Forward Erne Focuses on Present, Future 


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Erne knows his days with the Syracuse Crunch are numbered.

With six games left in the Crunch’s season, the 18-year-old is soaking in his first professional experience. Next year, if the 2013 second-round pick doesn’t make the Tampa Bay Lightning, he returns to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who are hosting the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament.

“I guess it’s more preparation for camp this year in Tampa,” said Erne, who signed an entry level contract with the Lightning and an amateur tryout with the Crunch last week. “I know a lot of these guys are going to be there, and it’s going to be a lot of the same skill set. Obviously, there’s a jump to the NHL, but this is as close as it gets. It’s good preparation for camp.”

NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-9-14

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Halifax Mooseheads 4 @ Gatineau Olympiques 2
Mooseheads lead best-of-7 second round series, 3-1

C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 0-3-3, +1, 2 PIM, 3 Hits, 3 SOG, 13/28 FO, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 8-16-24, +7, 8 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 29-70-108, +49, 43 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM

Halifax scored three times in the second period, building a 3-0 lead they’d never relinquish. Drouin had primary assists on two of those three goals, and a secondary assist on Halifax’s empty netter at the end of the game. He extended his streak of multi-point games to 11 and his point streak to 21. He was a game star for the 10th consecutive game. Halifax can close out the series at Gatineau on Friday.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-9-14

KHL Eastern Conference Finals
(4)Ufa 0 vs. (1)Magnitogorsk 1
Magnitogorsk Leads the Series 3-1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, SO, 39/39, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Regular season totals: 51 GP, 30-12-8, 9 SO, 1.88 GAA, .940 sv%
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 11-2-0, 1 SO, 1.78 GAA, .941 sv%

Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Loss, 26/27, 1.01 GAA, .963 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 17 GP, 9-8-0, 1 SO, 2.05 GAA, .931 sv%

Mike Keenan's gamble paid off. After giving veteran netminder Vasily Koshechkin the quick hook in Metallurg's 4-0 Game Three loss to Ufa, Koshechkin responded with a 39 save shutout performance in Game Four to put Metallurg on the threshold of the Gagarin Cup Finals. Rookie netminder Andrey Vasilevskiy was splendid in defeat, stopping 26 of 27 shots faced, but defenseman Viktor Antipin's power play goal was all it took for Metallurg to put Ufa on the brink of elimination. Game Five is slated for Friday with Ufa's back squarely against the wall.

Bolt Prospect of the Week: April 9, 2014

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 9, 2014 is … Jonathan Marchessault, W, Syracuse Crunch (AHL - USA).

Jonathan Marchessault just experienced a year’s worth of miracles in the span of two days.

First, the scoring winger acquired from the Columbus organization in March scored twice – shorthanded – in a ridiculously improbable come-from-behind Crunch win over Utica on Saturday. Syracuse was down by three goals with less than 90 seconds on the clock when Vladdy Namestnikov scored to make the game somewhat interesting. Namestnikov’s goal was scored with Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis pulled for an extra attacker during four-on-four play.

NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-8-14

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Halifax Mooseheads 2 @ Gatineau Olympiques 5
Mooseheads lead best-of-7 second round series, 2-1

C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 2-0-2, -1, 2 PIM, 1 Hit, 6 SOG, 8/22 FO, *Third Star*
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 8-13-21, +6, 6 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 29-70-108, +49, 43 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM

Halifax suffered their first defeat of the 2014 playoffs, losing 5-2 in Gatineau. Jonathan Drouin continued his multi-point game streak, which rose to nine, and he still has been a game star in every playoff game so far. Game 4 is Thursday.

Ontario Hockey League

North Bay Battalion 1 @ Barrie Colts 2
Battalion lead best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 2-1

D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 3-0-3, E, 10 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM

D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, *Third Star*
Playoff totals: 8 GP: 3-2-5, +3, 6 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 11-25-36, +22, 121 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM

Barrie got back in the series with a 2-1 home win on Tuesday night. Jake Dotchin scored the game’s first goal. Barrie would add another then hold on for the win. Game 4 is Thursday.

NHL Game Night: 4-8-14 Maple Leafs at Lightning

A solid, satisfying win... but at what price?

TOR-0
TB-3

Ben Bishop made 3 saves on 3 shots before leaving the game 5:43 into the First Period in serious discomfort after falling to the ice while catching a puck with his glove hand. Wrist, elbow, shoulder? Whatever it was, Bishop was writhing in pain enough to leave doubt whether he'll be available anytime soon. Anders Lindback entered the game and stopped all 25 shots he faced the rest of the way for the combined shutout and the win. Putting aside any critique of Bishop's workload, I feel like Lindback's play in his last start merited more starting time than Cooper has given him. He looked good again tonight, including a sparkling glove save toward the end of the Second Period. What I like about Lindback is the team in front of him seems to simplify its game and pay closer attention to detail rather than simply relying on Ben Bishop to be the eraser for their mistakes. It certainly appeared that way tonight.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
9:19 TB Palat (21), (Hedman, Gudas)
15:45 TB Palat (22), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)

Third Period
19:47 TB Hedman (13), (unassisted)(EN)

Lindback, Ondrej Palat, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

That was a fantastically well played hockey game by the Tampa Bay Lightning after the debacles against Calgary and Dallas. Ordinarily I'd be really excited about the way they played tonight, because it represents a total reversal of the issues that had plaqued the club earlier this season when it simply couldn't get power play production, couldn't kill penalties with any reliability, and struggled mightily to protect Third Period leads. They were ruthlessly efficient in all three aspects, which bodes well, but...

Between Bishop leaving the game and Sami Salo also leaving early in the Second Period, you wonder if they won the battle and ended up losing the war. It's never a good thing when an injury looks so significant that people start asking you how quickly your KHL-based prospect goaltender-of-the-future might be available to be signed and, gulp, appear for your team in the playoffs. That's the scary predicament of the night, though, pending word on what ails Bishop.

The Lightning's victory tonight puts them at 95 points for the season, 1 shy of our 80-game goal of 96 points and 2 points shy of the 10-game segment goal of 12 points earned. It's remarkable how efficient they've been about staying on schedule all season long.

Andrej Sustr had 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 18:10. He, again, had to play bigger minutes with one of his defensive corps-mates out of the game (in this case Salo). He made several key plays in the Second Period including breaking up a 3-on-1 by Toronto's top line. Tonight was his 40th game of the season, meaning he is now just 1 game away from graduation on the site. He'll likely be the capstone to an unprecedented Bolt Prospects Alumni class the likes of which we may never see again.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Ikonen Gets Head Start with Syracuse


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After his first practice with the Syracuse Crunch Tuesday, Henri Ikonen spent some extra time on the ice working with fellow rookies.

Ikonen, who signed an entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday and will finish the season on an amateur tryout with Syracuse, liked the brisk, energetic pace at practice. The 2013 sixth-round draft pick admits he may not be the most skilled player, but prides himself on the effort he puts in.

“I’m a good skater, so I bring some speed,” the 5-11, 184-pound winger said. “I can battle in the corners, win battles and take the puck to the net, and hopefully score some goals from there.”

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-7-14

KHL Eastern Conference Finals
(4)Ufa 4 vs. (1)Magnitogorsk 0
Magnitogorsk Leads the Series 2-1
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Win, SO, 22/22, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 16 GP, 9-7-0, 1 SO, 2.11 GAA, .929 sv%

Vasily Koshechkin, Loss, 20/22, 2.65 GAA, .909 sv%
Regular season totals: 51 GP, 30-12-8, 9 SO, 1.88 GAA, .940 sv%
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 10-2-0, 0 SO, 1.91 GAA, .935 sv%

Today might've been a game changer in the KHL Eastern Conference Finals. Not only did Lightning prospect goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy post a 22 save shutout to hand Magnitogorsk just their second defeat of the KHL postseason, but Metallurg goaltender Vasily Koshechkin was pulled by Head Coach Mike Keenan after a Third Period soft goal that put Ufa up 2-0. What effect will the quick hook have on the veteran Koshechkin? We shall see when Game Four drops on Wednesday. Ex-Canucks draft pick Kirill Koltsov had a pair of assists in the win for Ufa.

NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-6-14

Ontario Hockey League

Barrie Colts 1 @ North Bay Battalion 4
Battalion lead best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 2-0

D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 7 GP: 2-2-4, +1, 6 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 11-25-36, +22, 121 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM

D Dylan Blujus, NB: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 9 GP, 3-0-3, E, 8 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM

North Bay scored four times in the span of about four minutes in the third period to claim Game 2 and take a 2-0 series lead over Barrie. Dylan Blujus scored a power play goal, giving him three goals in nine playoff games. He had four goals in 55 regular season games. Undrafted free agent Barclay Goodrow had two goals for the Battalion. The series moves to Barrie for Game 3 on Tuesday.

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