Breaking News: Helenius to continue career in Sweden

According to the Swedish sports news site Aftonbladet, as well as Ilta-Sanomat in Finland, former Lightning first round pick Riku Helenius will pack his bags for Sweden.

The towering goaltender was recently pushed to No.3 in AHL Norfolk when the Lightning signed Jaroslav Janus from Erie of the OHL. Dustin Tokarski is the No.1 in Norfolk, though he's currently filling in for an injured Mike Smith in Tampa.

Helenius will join Sodertalje SK of the Swedish Elitserien League, and according to his agent, Jay Grossman (via Aftonbladet), this will give the young netminder more playing time.

Helenius was drafted in the first round (15th overall) at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He appeared in 12 games for Norfolk this year, posting a 5-7 record with a 2.75 GAA and .896 save percentage. He appeared in one game for the Lightning last season, stopping both shots he faced in mop-up duty. He previously played for Seattle of the WHL.

Update: The Lightning have confirmed the transaction, along with Tokarski being reassigned to Norfolk (1/24).

NHL Game Night: 1-21-10 Maple Leafs at Lightning

The Lightning snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

TOR-2
TB-3 (OT)

Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
TOR 7:05, White 9 (Kessel, Gunnarsson)(PP)
TB 11:46, Stamkos 26 (Lecavalier, Foster)

Third Period
TOR 9:08, Stajan 15 (Hagman, Kulemin)
TB 16:11, Malone 21 (Lecavalier, Stamkos)(PP)

Overtime
TB 4:50, St. Louis 13 (Stamkos, Lecavalier)(PP)

If the power play stays hot, that's one thing that will give the Lightning a big edge down the stretch of this season. It saved the game tonight, and that was as close to a must-win as it could be.

Vincent Lecavalier has climbed up to a point a game pace for the season. Steven Stamkos goes over a point a game pace. Martin St. Louis remains well over a point a game pace for the season. And, the ironic thing is that Rick Tocchet might be right: Steve Downie might be playing better hockey than all of them.

Paul Szczechura had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 10:05.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 1-21-10

Ekaterinburg 4 @ Nizhnekamsk 2
Denis Kazionov, Ekaterinburg, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 42 GP, 4-3-7, -16, 14 PIM

It's been many moons since Kazionov, who played 10:22 in the match, found the scoresheet. Ekaterinburg was led by a pair of helpers from forward Vitali Sitnikov.

CSKA 3 @ Kazan 4
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 46 GP, 18-7-25, +7, 14 PIM

The elder Kazionov, who has had no problem finding the scoresheet recently, switched it up today with a helper on a Jarkko Immonen goal in 15:31 of ice time. Kazan was led by former Penguin Alexei Morozov, who had 1 goal and 1 assist in the game.

Lightning Return James Wright to WHL; Claim Nate Thompson Off Waivers

Steve Ewen of the Dub Hub is reporting that forward James Wright has been reassigned to his junior team, the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. From the Dub Hub phone interview with Wright, "I'm disappointed to be sent home. Any hockey player is disappointed when he doesn't make the team. But I'm going to try to keep a good head on my shoulders and play hard. They [Lightning] need to make the playoffs and this it the route they're going and it's hard for me but I do understand." Wright doesn't turn 20 until March 24th, so he is currently ineligible to be assigned to the Norfolk Admirals.

Earlier today, the Bolts claimed LW/C Nate Thompson off of waivers from the New York Islanders. Thompson, a 2003 6th round pick of the Boston Bruins signed a three-year entry level contract with the Bruins in 2005, but was claimed off waivers by the Islanders in October 2008. This past summer the Islanders resigned Thompson to a one-year contract.

AHL Game Night 1-19-10: AHL All Star Game

Canadian AHL All-Stars 10 @ Planet USA All-Stars 9 (SO)
Blair Jones, Canadian AHL All-Stars, 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG

Jones assisted on Jason Jaffray's game opening goal and led all Canadian AHL All-Stars in shots with 7. Tyler Ennis, a Buffalo prospect, was named the game's MVP after scoring 1 goal and 2 assists for the Canadians, including a helper on the game-tying goal with 18 seconds left in regulation.

KHL Game Day: 1-20-10

Novosibirsk 2 @ Omsk 3
Karri Ramo, Omsk, DNP
Season totals: 34 GP, 19-14, 3 SO, 2.05 GAA, .913 sv%

Ramo did not dress for the third straight game for Omsk. Undrafted 20 year old Igor Averin had a pair of goals for Omsk in the win.

Dynamo Moscow 5 @ Dynamo Minsk 4 (SO)
Johan Harju, Dynamo Moscow, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 46 GP, 3-11-14, -7, 28 PIM

Harju played 14:54 in the match and was 44% on draws. Dynamo Moscow was led by a pair of goals from former NHLer Karel Rachunek.

NHL Game Night: 1-19-10 Lightning at Rangers

Nothing's quite as humiliating as crapping the bed on national TV.

TB-2
NYR-8

Antero Niittymaki allowed 5 goals on 20 shots for the loss before giving way to Dustin Tokarski who allowed 3 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way.

What was the difference between tonight and last night? The Lightning overreacted to adversity. The Rangers got the game to 3-1 at the end of the first period, and rather than stay within their system the Lightning loosened up and played out of control. That's foolish. There's no such thing as a two point goal. You have to work and stay within your system and dismantle a two goal lead one goal at a time. If you don't, chances are your gambles will find you behind three goals, at which point the blood is in the water and it's a lot harder to get back within your system.

Box score from NHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 1-18-10

NCAA

Dartmouth Big Green 1 @ Harvard Crimson 4
C/W Alexander Killorn, HAR: 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 16 GP, 5-7-12, -1, 16 PIM

Killorn, who started the game on the second line, is third on the Crimson in scoring behind Michael Biega (undrafted) and Louis Leblanc (Canadiens 1/09).

Northeastern Huskies 2 @ No.18 Vermont Catamounts 9 (1/16)
C/W Matt Marshall , UVM: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM (holding), 1 SOG
Season Totals: 19 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 10 PIM

Vermont avenged a Friday night home-ice loss to the Huskies in a big way. Despite Vermont putting up nine goals, Marshall somehow finished on the minus side of zero – the only Catamount to do so in the game.

Blair Jones Wins AHL Hardest Shot Competition

All hail the hammer. Blair Jones won the AHL's Hardest Shot competition tonight at the AHL All-Star Skills Competition. Jones clocked in with a slap shot of 100.7 mph.

NHL Game Night: 1-18-10 Lightning at Hurricanes

That was outstanding. The Lightning played hard and they played under control.

TB-3
CAR-2

Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the win.

First Period
TB 11:07, Malone 20 (Foster, Veilleux)

Second Period
CAR 16:28, Cullen 9 (Whitney, Staal)
TB 18:55, Lecavalier 12 (Meszaros, Halpern)(PP)

Third Period
CAR 4:07, LaRose 2 (Gleason)
TB 9:11, Downie 11 (St. Louis, Smaby)

For one of the rare times in the past two seasons, the Lightning did not panic whenever the opposing team got a goal to even things up. They stayed under control, and they went right back to work to retake the lead. That's exactly the way they need to play down the stretch to piece together enough points to make the postseason.

Paul Szczechura had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 13:41.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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