Kval till Elitserien Game Day: 4-4-10

Kval till Elitserien
Sodertalje 4 @ Almtuna 3 (OT)
Riku Helenius, Sodertalje, Win, 23/26, 2.83 GAA, .885 sv%
Season totals: 9 GP, 4-2-2, 0 SO, 2.42 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 6-1-0, 1 SO, 2.82 GAA, .898 sv%

Former Oilers draft pick Jonas Almtorp scored an overtime game winning goal to help lead Sodeertalje over Allsvenskan side Almtuna in their seventh game of the promotion/relegation series. Despite only losing a single game in the entire Kval till Elitserien, Lightning prospect Riku Helenius has seen his save percentage dip below .900 after a pair of subpar starts.

Sodertalje improved its overall record to 6-1-0, and holds a 7 point lead over 3rd place Leksands with 3 games remaining. The top two teams in the series will earn spots in the Elitserien, Sweden's top division, and wins is Sweden count for 3 points each. So, Sodertalje can clinch its spot in the top division with 1 more victory. Sodertalje faces Leksands on Tuesday.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-3-10

QMJHL

No.5 Moncton Wildcats 4 @ No.4 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 3 (OT)
Quarterfinals, Game 2. Moncton leads Best of 7 Series 2-0
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 2-5-7, +4, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Daniel Pettersson (undrafted) scored his third of the playoffs at 2:43 of overtime to give the Wildcats a 4-3 victory and put the Huskies in a big 0-2 hole in the series heading back to Moncton. Barberio maintained his point-per-game average with an assist on the game’s opening goal.

WHL

West-2 Vancouver Giants 9 @ West-5 Portland Winterhawks 6
Conference Semifinals, Game 1. Vancouver leads Best of 7 Series 1-0
C/W/D James Wright, VAN: 1-2-3, +1, 2 PIM (roughing), *Third Star*
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 1-4-5, +3, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 21 GP, 6-13-19, -3, 17 PIM
With Tampa Bay: 43 GP, 2-3-5, -9, 18 PIM

The Giants improved to 5-0 in the playoffs and drew first blood against Portland with a field-goal-heavy 9-6 win in Oregon. This game turned ugly in the late third as there was somewhat of a line brawl with about four minutes remaining, and more festivities as the final horn sounded. Wright’s first goal of the playoffs turned out to be the game winner as he gave the Giants a 7-5 lead midway through the third period. 5-foot-9 Brendan Gallagher (2011 draft) had four goals for Vancouver. Possible Lightning 2010 first round draft target Nino Niederreiter was scoreless and minus-1 in the game with four penalty minutes.

AHL Game Night: 4-3-10 Admirals at Senators

Admirals fall one goal, one period short.

NOR-3
BNG 5

Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. He's played so well as the workhorse since Jaroslav Janus went down. It's a shame on the night he finally got 3 goals worth of support, he couldn't make it stand up.

First Period
NOR Lashoff, (8) (Tyrell, Hall), 8:04

Second Period
BNG St. Pierre, (24) (Lee, Kinrade), 0:34
BNG O'Brien, (8) (Svendsen, Bailey), 5:25
BNG Daugavins, (20) (Hennessy, Smith), 10:59
BNG Tifu, (3) (Hamel, Lee), 12:16

Third Period
NOR Parrish, (16) (St. Pierre, Szczechura), 14:14
NOR Fornataro, (10) (Tarkir, Fadden), 16:30 (PP)
BNG Keller, (32) (Smith, Hennessy), 19:46 (EN/PP)

Binghamton goaltender Mike Brodeur picked a heckuva time to stand on his head. Norfolk outshot the Senators 42-30, but in the end the Sens got the goaltending they needed to pull out the victory.

Norfolk burned their game in hand on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and got nothing out of it, so they'll remain 3 points back of the Pens for 3rd place in the East Division. In the crossover, Lowell defeated Worcester in overtime 3-2 and Bridgeport fell 3-1 to Portland. So, all is not lost for the Admirals. They're 4 points back of the Devils and 2 points back of the Sound Tigers while still holding a game in hand on each team.

Unfortunately, the remaining 4 games of the schedule are incredibly difficult, on paper. Norfolk will burn their game in hand tomorrow and could be back in a playoff spot with a win. But, they must win in Hershey to pull off that feat and Hershey is a ridiculous 32-4-0-2 at the Giant Center this season. That will be Norfolk's last road game of the season. The balance of the schedule includes Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and then another back-to-back games against defending champion Hershey and it's league best 57-15-0-3 record, with their 57 wins already being the highest single season total in the history of the AHL. But, games are not played on paper, and Norfolk has played Hershey fairly close under Head Coach Jim Johnson, so the Admirals have at least a puncher's chance.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Lightning Return Jim Johnson to Admirals Bench

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned Assistant Coach Jim Johnson to the position of Head Coach of the Norfolk Admirals today, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.

The move comes as the Admirals are one of four teams battling for three spots in the push for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Norfolk trails Wilkes Barre-Scranton by three points and are two points behind Bridgeport as well as Lowell though they have a game in hand on each team. The Admirals are currently in Binghamton for a 7:05 p.m. game tonight.

“I am extremely excited to get back behind the bench tonight for the Admirals,” said Johnson today. “We have a great group of players in Norfolk and I am excited to get there with them as we push towards making the playoffs."

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-3-10

Eastern Conference Finals
(1)Yulaev 1 @ (3)Kazan 2 (OT)
Kazan Leads the Series 2-0
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 52 GP, 18-9-27, +8, 18 PIM
Playoff totals: 11 GP, 3-1-4, +5, 8 PIM

Hannes Hyvonen scored 4:23 into overtime to lift Kazan to a 2-1 Game Two victory over top seed Yulaev and a 2-0 series lead in the KHL Eastern Conference Finals. Yulaev needed a goal with 15 seconds left in regulation by Valdimir Antipov just to force overtime, but their celebration was short lived. Kazan's other goal came from ex-Thrashers draft pick Ilya Nikulin. Lightning prospect Dmitri Kazionov played 20:36 in the match and took a first period minor penalty for high sticking.

Game Three between Yulaev and Kazan is Monday. Tomorrow is Game Three in the Western Conference between KHK MVD and Yaroslavl with that series deadlocked at 1-1.

Bolt Prospects Says Farewell to the Chiefs

On a rather sad note, today will mark the final game for the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs in Johnstown, PA. The franchise, owned by former NHL GM Neil Smith, has been plagued by financial problems for years and will be moving to Greenville, SC next season. Johnstown was the Tampa Bay Lightning's ECHL affiliate for three years between 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. Three of the Lightning's prospects who played in Johnstown have since seen time in the NHL: Radek Smolenak, Jay Rosehill, and Andre Deveaux.

I can honestly say that, outside of Norfolk Admirals fans, I don't think there's been an affiliate's fan base that was more supportive of their club than the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs. I'm sure this is a major blow for a town that has had some challenges over the past few years. Bolt Prospects salutes the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs and we hope that Johnstown, PA gets another franchise soon.

Lightning Reassign Four Players to Norfolk

Following last night's latest on-ice debacle, the Tampa Bay Lightning have returned right wing Mark Parrish, center Paul Szczechura, and prospect defensemen Vladimir Mihalik and Matt Lashoff to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.

For the Admirals, these reassignments come at a critical time as Norfolk plays Binghamton in a make-or-break game for their AHL playoff hopes.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-2-10

QMJHL

No.5 Moncton Wildcats 6 @ No.4 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 1
Quarterfinals, Game 1. Moncton leads Best of 7 Series 1-0
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 2-4-6, +3, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

There wasn’t much drama in this one as Moncton had a 5-1 lead after the opening period. Game 2 is Saturday at Rouyn-Noranda. QMJHL teams are re-seeded after the first round in a league-wide format. Moncton is the five-seed and the Huskies four despite the Huskies finishing the regular season 20 points behind Moncton. Rouyn-Noranda won the Telus Western Division; Moncton finished second to St. John in the Atlantic.

NHL Game Night: 4-2-10 Lightning at Rangers

It's over, Brian.

TB-5
NYR-0

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 7 shots in the first period for the loss before giving way to Antero Niitymaki, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots the rest of the way.

It's over, and it's time to throw some support down to Norfolk in the hope that at least one team in this organization can make the postseason. Right now the best case scenario is if the Lightning could somehow get in a position to take Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin and add another franchise caliber piece to the puzzle. This season, however, is done.

Matt Lashoff had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:43. That's the kind of performance he needed to get back in the conversation for next season. With the Lightning off until Tuesday, he'll presumably head to Binghamton to help the Admirals tomorrow night.

Vladimir Mihalik was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 12:01. It's striking that, even despite the rash of injuries, the coaching staff still is holding Vladdy down to a dozen minutes a game. That's not a good sign. He presumably will also be headed back to the Admirals for tomorrow night's game.

I kind of hope Paul Szczechura joins them, also. Not because Paul has played poorly, but because the Admirals need the help.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-2-10 Admirals at River Rats

Against all odds, Keller, Tokarski, and the Admirals have life.

NOR-2
ALB-1

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the win. He's been good down the stretch, and he'll need to be amazing in the final 5 games of the season to get the Admirals over the hump.

First Period
ALB Blanchard, (14) (Micflikier, Samson), 12:37
NOR Keller, (16) (Jones), 16:03

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NOR Keller, (17) (Case, Jackson), 13:29

Justin Keller and Tokarski were the game's first and second stars.

Tonight was supposed to be a funeral for the Norfolk Admirals. With Ty Wishart out hurt and Lashoff and Mihalik called up due to injuries, the Admirals blueline consisted of Scott Jackson and a bunch of no-names. On the road. Against a hot Albany club that's dominated the series this season. And, somehow, the Admirals have parlayed doom into hope, despite being outclassed for much of tonight's game. They made their own breaks. Blair Jones made a great individual play to steal a puck to set up Keller on the first goal, Tokarski made every key save he had to to keep it 1-1, and then in the final frame, when the Ads looked to just be holding on for a point, Justin Keller got a little daylight and used his laser shot to propel Norfolk to the win. That's why they play the games.

It's now essentially a four team race for three spots, and everything looks to have gone Norfolk's way tonight. Inside the division, Binghamton smoked third place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 6-2, meaning the Admirals are 3 points back of the Penguins. In the crossover, Lowell (which is struggling), fell 5-2 to Hartford and Bridgeport is down 4-1 to Manchester very late in the third period. If that score holds, Norfolk will be 2 points back of both the Devils and Monarchs, and in all three cases the Admirals will hold one game in hand.

Can they defy the odds again tomorrow night in Binghamton? If they do, they can pull within 1 point of the Penguins for 3rd place in the East Division. Moreover, they could pull back into a playoff spot if Lowell falls in regulation to Worcester and/or Bridgeport falls in regulation to Portland. Theoretically, with the Lightning off until Tuesday, the Admirals should get Matt Lashoff and Vladimir Mihalik back for tomorrow night, and one would hope a forward or two might also be thrown into the mix, because tomorrow is make-or-break for Norfolk, and Binghamton has been playing well.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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