NHL Game Night: 12-22-18 Lightning at Oilers

Lightning complete Western Canada swing with impressive display of stamina.

TB-6
EDM-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Had a real highlight reel stop on McDavid in the First Period, but honestly wasn't called upon to make a ton of big saves despite all of Edmonton's firepower.

First Period
10:15 EDM Nugent-Hopkins (12), (McDavid, Puljujarvi)
17:09 TB Stamkos (19), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
2:50 EDM Chiasson (16), (Nurse, McDavid)(PP)
13:00 TB Kucherov (16), (unassisted)
14:32 TB Miller (7), (Cernak, Killorn)

Third Period
4:17 TB Johnson (15), (Point, Kucherov)
6:17 EDM Draisaitl (17), (McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins)
15:03 TB Stamkos (20), (Kucherov, Stralman)
18:35 TB Johnson (16), (Kucherov, Point)(EN)

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

Wow. What an impressive display by the Lightning tonight under the circumstances. They're at the end of an arduous four game road swing through Western Canada with Christmas beckoning. They had every incentive to call this a schedule loss. But, instead, they outshoot Edmonton 45-28 on the game and then blow them off the rink in the Third Period with the contest still in doubt.

I legit did not expect this team to get 7 of a possible 8 points on this road swing either. Between the travel and playing a different style of teams out west, I expected just a little cooling off. Nope. Still red hot. 37 games into the season they're sitting on 58 points. That would be a decent number after 47 games. This is a ridiculous pace through 37. I'm not ready to anoint the Lightning as anything, and over in the Metro Washington and Pittsburgh appear to be taking the season more seriously now that we're deep into December. There's challenges ahead for this Lightning team. But... this year feels different.

Danick Martel had 3 shots and 1 hit in 9:11.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 shots in 15:45. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Erik Cernak had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:27. I thought he was excellent tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

ECHL Game Night: 12-22-18 Solar Bears @ Everblades

Orlando Solar Bears 5 @ Florida Everblades 6 (OT)

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 12 GP, 4-5-7, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 7 GP, 0-4-4, -6, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, ORL: Did not play
Season Totals (ORL): 8 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 8 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 23 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 16 PIM

Orlando scored three times in less than a minute early in the third period to go up on first-place Florida, 5-3, but the Everblades fought back to force overtime and win in the extra session. Martin Ouellette was recalled by Syracuse with Connor Ingram out 2-3 weeks with an injury, so Corbin Boes got the nod for Orlando and stopped 39 of 45 shots. The Solar Bears only managed 21 shots through 3-plus periods. Jonne Tammela made the trip to Estero for Orlando, but did not dress.

ECHL Game Night: 12-21-18 Everblades at Solar Bears

Florida Everblades 3 @ Orlando Solar Bears 4 (OT)

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 2-0-2, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals (ORL): 11 GP, 4-4-6, -1, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

G Martin Ouellette, ORL: Win, 25 saves on 28 shots
(AHL contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 15 GP, 9-5-1, 3.08 GAA, .910 sv%, 1 SO
Season Totals (SYR): 0 GP
17-18 Totals (FLA): 42 GP, 33-5-2, 2.02 GAA, .931 sv%, 4 SO

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 6 GP, 0-3-3, -5, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, ORL: Did not play
Season Totals (ORL): 8 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 8 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 23 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 16 PIM

Dylan Fitze scored his fourth goal of the year at 1:57 of overtime to break a 3-3 tie and give the Solar Bears a 4-3 win over first-place Florida. Lightning prospect Mitch Hults had two goals for Orlando while Oleg Sosunov contributed a power play assist. This was the second game of back-to-back-to-back games between the two clubs before the Christmas break. Florida won on Thursday in Orlando, 4-2. Saturday’s game is in Estero.

AHL Game Night: 12-21-18 Crunch at Phantoms

Ingram makes Phantoms vanish in SO.

SYR-3
LV-2 (SO)

Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 42 shots before stopping 4 of 5 in the PS session for the SO win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:34 LV McDonald (3), (Carey, Brennan)
15:39 SYR Gaunce (6), (Masin, Verhaeghe)

Third Period
5:02 LV Carey (15), (Bunnaman, Friedman)
5:13 SYR Colton (3), (Bourke, Thomas)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SYR- Conacher, Verhaeghe
LV- Leier

Ingram and Carter Verheaghe were the game's first and second stars. Ingram helped the Crunch overcome a 42-30 shot deficit to get out of Lehigh Valley with two points.

With Rochester falling tonight, the Crunch have moved to within 4 points of first place in the division with 3 games in hand on Rochester, although they're also 1 point back of Utica with a massive 6 games in hand on the Comets.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-20-18 Lightning at Flames

Domingue shines late in Lightning comeback.

TB-5
CGY-4 (SO)

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 37 shots before stopping 6 of 7 in the PS session for the SO win. His first goal allowed was a soft goal that trickled through and behind him for an eventual tap in and his rebound control was something he absolutely seemed to struggle with most of the night. But, with that said, he started getting stronger into the Third Period and then absolutely stood on his head in Overtime and the Shootout, including one three save sequence in OT that should be on the highlight reel he shows his grandkids someday.

First Period
3:38 TB Palat (4), (Point, Kucherov)
4:29 CGY Bennett (6), (Tkachuk, Hanifin)
7:50 CGY Monahan (21), (Lindholm, Gaudreau)
12:25 CGY Backlund (6), (Bennett)

Second Period
3:19 TB Stamkos (18), (Erne, Kucherov)
5:52 TB Killorn (9), (Gourde, McDonagh)

Third Period
15:35 TB Girardi (3), (Cirelli)
17:32 CGY Gaudreau (16), (unassisted)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Hedman, Miller
CGY- Monahan

Nikita Kucherov was the game's second star.

Remarkable resilience from the Lightning to turn this one around and get two points with their backup netminder in and falling down 3-1 early after a flat start. I don't know if it was lack of familiarity with Calgary and what they do, the altitude, the travel, or a combination of those factors, but the Lightning just didn't look themselves in the First Period and it might've been easy for some other teams to pack it in after giving up three quick ones. The Lightning regrouped and came out storming in the Second Period to draw even and eventually got the full two points. Loved the effort and the resolve, with the same caveat as the Vancouver game: if the power play could've broken through this would've been a far less drama-filled affair.

Danick Martel had 2 shots in 9:07.

Anthony Cirelli was 50% on 16 draws in 15:02.

Adam Erne had a helper and was +1 with 3 hits in 9:00.

Erik Cernak had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 16:35. Not gonna mince words: that was an uncharacteristically rough performance by Cernak in terms of puck management.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Fortier Signing Continues Trend of Early ELCs

The Lightning signed 2018 second-round pick, center Gabriel Fortier, to a three-year, entry-level contract Wednesday, continuing a recent trend of getting picks signed before they enter their decision years.

Fortier, who was the club’s top pick last summer, has 14 goals and 42 points in 34 games this year for Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL. The Drakkar’s captain leads the team with 28 assists, is tied for first for power play assists with 10, is second among forwards with a plus-17 rating, and is third for points.

AHL Game Night: 12-19-18 Crunch at Thunderbirds

Crunch lose a squeaker late.

SYR-2
SPR-3

Eddie Pasquale allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss.

First Period
9:13 SYR Raddysh (10), (Dumont)

Second Period
4:23 SPR Horton (7), (Farnham, Bystrom)
7:21 SPR Hunt (9), (Mangene, Bystrom)(PP)
15:02 SYR Barre-Boulet (12), (Conacher, Verhaeghe)(PP)
?
Third Period
16:25 SPR Hunt (10), (Bystrom, Ang)

Alex Barre-Boulet's power play marker kept him at a point a game with 12 goals and 25 points in his first 25 AHL contests.

Syracuse sits in third place in the North Division, one point back of second place Utica and six back of Rochester. However, they have three games in hand on Rochester and an amazing six games in hand on Utica.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-18-18 Lightning at Canucks

Lightning prevail in late night fight.

TB-5
VAN-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 38 shots. And, although the final score looks comfortable, he was called on to make some key stops when the game narrowed to 3-2 in the Third Period to preserve the victory including a monumental breakaway opportunity.

First Period
8:40 TB Kucherov (15), (Point)
9:17 VAN Motte (5), (Stecher, Virtanen)
11:07 TB Paquette (8), (Martel, Erne)

Second Period
8:37 TB Erne (4), (Paquette, Girardi)

Third Period
5:46 VAN Tanev (2), (Roussel)
17:22 TB Stamkos (17), (Johnson, Hedman)
18:17 TB Palat (3), (Kucherov, Stralman)

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

Obviously this was a game that got out of control in the nastiness department. Canucks fans are going to point to Danick Martel's hit on Stecher as the flashpoint of the game, but the reality is Roussel started the snowball down the hill by running Kucherov after Nikita scored a goal. From there we had the ugliness of Stecher getting laid out on a hit by Martel and Martel getting jumped by two Canucks who held him while he was bloodied by a Gudbranson sucker punch. This was all sandwiched between a hockey game where the Lightning failed to put the Canucks away with multiple unsuccessful power play opportunities to establish a 3-goal advantage and quell any Vancouver uprising for good. They eventually got the win, but I'd have preferred they piled the dirt on Vancouver's grave much sooner.

Regarding the Martel hit, I'm going to stipulate ahead of time it was a borderline play. I haven't seen an angle of the hit from the front so I'm not sure if when Martel raised his arm and elbow he did or didn't catch Stecher's head on the follow-through. So, there may yet be discipline for Martel. With that said, the Vancouver reaction to the play was laughably overwrought. To hear them tell it, 5'9" Danick Martel is some kind of cross between Tom Wilson, Ronnie Lott, and John Wilkes Booth. The exaggeration of the play and the casting of Martel as a headhunting assassin who went straight in to try to decapitate Stecher is a work of pure fiction. First, the initial contact was shoulder to shoulder. Any claim Martel was deliberately trying to land a headshot with intent to injure simply doesn't jibe with reality. Indeed, if you review the tape, Martel makes the hit (which he also claimed he felt was a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder hit) he immediately starts digging at the puck in Stecher's skates to retrieve the puck. Not the act of a headhunting assassin admiring their handywork through the scope of the rifle. Just sayin'. Second, yes Martel hits Stecher a fraction of a second before the puck arrives at Stecher's feet. In slow motion. So, in reality it's a bang-bang play where, in real time, the puck arrived at pretty much the exact moment of the contact. In that regard, I think you can even make a really strong argument that the interference call that was given to Martel wasn't correct. So then, the third element is Martel's follow through, which I'll stipulate to you I haven't seen clearly shown one way or the other to have contacted Stecher's head or not. You put that all together, and I think you can make another strong argument that had Stecher not been concussed (and, sadly, players can get concussed on completely legal shoulder-to-shoulder hits, too) there wouldn't have been any minor penalty issued in the game at all, let alone something to soothe the Canucks' plaintiff cries for a five-minute major for a phantom, premeditated head shot. It's a shame Stecher got hurt. I don't wish that upon any player (not even Brad Marchand). But not every hit that leads to a concussion is automatically a premeditated head shot with intent to injure. Sometimes, as in this case, a hard hockey play can lead to a guy getting his bell rung. It's the nature of the beast. Just is. And if Stecher had popped right back up, we would've been talking about Martel issuing a hard hit in a chippy game and turned the page about a minute after it happened.

And if you're going to try to crucify Jon Cooper for fist-bumping his player for standing up for himself after having gotten sucker-punched for issuing a hard hit in a chippy game, then I think that's a little overwrought too. I can only assume the run on fainting couches at local Vancouver furniture shops was pretty epic this morning.

Danick Martel had a helper and was +2 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 6:57. Very impactful effort for a guy who was a surprise to dress after Callahan got nicked up. Beautiful spinning behind the back assist on Paquette's goal and, unless I see different evidence that what I've been shown, answered the bell with some physical play in a chippy game, which is no small thing for a 5'9" waterbug. I just hope the league office actually reviews the video evidence when looking at the matter and doesn't decide, "Here's a borderline NHL'er and we can really make an example out of him," without reviewing the facts fully.

Anthony Cirelli was 50% on 12 draws in 15:22.

Adam Erne had a goal and an assist and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:55. Nice tip on his goal and the Canucks did not have the depth to keep up with Tampa Bay's fourth line all night.

Erik Cernak was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 19:03, spelling Coburn for a night.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

ECHL Game Night: 12-17-18 Stingrays at Solar Bears

South Carolina Stingrays 5 @ Orlando Solar Bears 2

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 9 GP, 1-4-5, +1, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

G Martin Ouellette, ORL: Loss, 21 saves on 24 shots (Syracuse contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 13 GP, 8-4-1, 3.07 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO
Season Totals (SYR): 0 GP
17-18 Totals (FLA): 42 GP, 33-5-2, 2.02 GAA, .931 sv%, 4 SO

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 4 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, ORL: Did not play
Season Totals (ORL): 8 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 8 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 23 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 16 PIM

Orlando failed to tie South Carolina in the South Division, falling to the Stingrays, 5-2, at home Monday. The Solar Bears cut South Carolina's lead to 3-2 midway through the third period before the Stingrays scored twice into an empty net. South Carolina moved to 32 points on the year, good enough for second in the division behind the Florida Everblades. The Solar Bears sit in fourth, three points back of Jacksonville for third. Orlando has two games in hand on Jacksonville and Florida, and three on South Carolina. There hasn’t been any news on a possible injury or promotion to Tammela.

ECHL Game Night: 12-16-18 Gladiators at Solar Bears

Atlanta Gladiators 1 @ Orlando Solar Bears 2

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 8 GP, 1-4-5, +2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

G Martin Ouellette, ORL: Win, 30 saves on 31 shots, *First Star* (Syracuse contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 12 GP, 8-3-1, 3.07 GAA, .910 sv%, 1 SO
Season Totals (SYR): 0 GP
17-18 Totals (FLA): 42 GP, 33-5-2, 2.02 GAA, .931 sv%, 4 SO

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 3 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, ORL: Did not play
Season Totals (ORL): 8 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 8 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 23 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 16 PIM

Mitch Hults scored his first goal with Orlando, Oleg Sosunov notched his first ECHL point, and Crunch prospect Martin Ouellette stopped 30 of 31 shots to lead the Solar Bears to a close win over visiting Atlanta. Hults opened the scoring with his first goal in the ECHL this year. He had two goals with Utah last year. Jonne Tammela was not in the Orlando lineup Sunday. There hasn’t been news of an injury or promotion.

Next up: Orlando hosts South Carolina Monday night.

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