Matt Smaby just gave John Tortorella something to think about.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 2 goals on 18 shots before giving way to Marc Denis who was a perfect 11 of 11 in regulation and overtime before taking the shootout loss.
Matt Smaby led the way offensively for the Lightning with 1 goal and 1 assist. Vaclav Prospal had a pair of helpers while Michel Ouellet had the other Lightning goal. Bryce Lampman added an individual helper.
The big winner of the night? Matt Smaby, hands down. This was the game he needed to play himself back into the conversation to make the team. Just a good all around game. His 15:47 of ice time was second among the four headed gaggle of potential defensemen and he was +2 with 3 shots on goal and 2 bone crushing hits. To me, that last area is Smaby's trump card. If the Lightning are serious about getting more physical on their blueline post-Craig Ramsey then Smaby should make the team. He brings a dimension with his open ice hits and his willingness to stand up opponents at the blueline that none of the other defensemen on this team do.
The big loser? The Lightning PK was only 50%, meaning the PK was PU. This was a sore spot the first half of last season and hopefully it won't be a sore spot again this season.
Albert Vishnyakov did not play in Spartak's 5-2 loss to Magnitogorsk.
Evgeny Artyukhin had 2 penalty minutes in Omsk's 4-1 pounding of Chelyabinsk.
Denis Kazionov did not play in Novokuznetsk's 3-2 loss to Podolsk.
Alexei Glukhov was scoreless in Cherepovets' 3-2 overtime loss to Khimik.
Anton But had an assist in St. Petersburg's 5-2 spanking of Yaroslavl.
The club reports a lingering eye injury to Chris Gratton, as well as injuries to Ryan Craig (back) and Jason Ward (ankle), and the desire to sit Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Brad Richards opened up three forward spots, but the club will dress just 10 forwards. Keller, who had 13 goals in an injury-plagued season for Springfield last year and 51 the year before in Kelowna to lead the WHL, flew to Detroit from Norfolk this morning to join the team for the morning skate.
Tonight's lineup, per TBL.com:
Evgeny Artyukhin was scoreless in Omsk's 1-0 shutout loss to Magnitogorsk.
Albert Vishnyakov did not play in Spartak's 1-0 win over Chelyabinsk.
Johan Harju and Lulea suffered a 5-2 setback today to Brynas in their Elitserien opener. Harju played the game at first line left wing and was -1 with 3 shots on goal. He was also 71% on 17 draws.
The second round of the Elitserien is slated for Thursday.
The seemingly never-ending story of Swiss prospect Luca Cunti, St. Cloud State University, and the NCAA Clearinghouse has concluded another chapter and Cunti is one step away from full clearance because of it.
Bolt Prospects has been informed by the Lightning that the NCAA Clearinghouse has approved Cunti for Division I play "academically." The club considers this a major accomplishment on Cunti's part as it necessitated his cramming for and passing the GED.
According to the club, the last remaining hurdle is obtaining Cunti's amateur status through the Clearinghouse and he will be set -- finally -- to play Division I hockey this year for the Huskies. In the meantime, the Lightning reports Cunti is proceeding with his classes and training hard off and on the ice with St. Cloud.
Final approval could come within the next few days, but the club cautions there is "nothing in stone though just yet."
Kind of a mixed bag in this game.
Karri Ramo stopped 20 of 23 shots faced for the win. He was hung out to dry on the Wings two early goals but did manage to retain composure and made some key stops in the second before surrendering a soft goal in the third. More good than bad.
Martin St. Louis potted a pair of goals with double assists going to Jason Ward and Brad Richards. Andre Roy and Andreas Karlsson also had goals. Vaclav Prospal, Craig MacDonald, and Filip Kuba all had individual helpers.
Big winner of the night: Craig MacDonald who probably just made the Lightning's opening night roster by virtue of Ryan Craig's slipped back disc. He had an assist and was +1 with 3 shots on goal to celebrate.
The other big winner of the night: the Lightning power play which might've found a temporary solution with Martin St. Louis filling in for Dan Boyle on the point.
Finally, for the winners, Mike Lundin gets 12:02 of ice time with one shot on goal. However humble that might be, it was more than Janik and Lampman got tonight. The door may be open for Matt Smaby to charge back into the race now if he can play a strong, confident game Thursday night.
I wouldn't label any losers in this game although the quest for Ramo, Mathieu Darche, and Kyle Wanvig looks to be coming to a close. Ramo and Darche look like strong possibilities for recall down the road though.
Victoria Grizzlies 1 @ Powell River Kings 3
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-0-0, 2 PIM
Game Notes: Justin Courtnall did not hit the scoresheet for the Grizzlies in their loss at Powell River, the second time in two nights Victoria has fallen to the Kings. Courtnall, who was called for roughing in the game, has one goal and two assists in six games so far this season for the 1-2-1(Ties)-2 (OTL) Grizzlies.
Lewiston MAINEiacs 1 @ St. John Sea Dogs 6
D Michael Ward, LEW: 0-0-0, -3, 4 PIM, 1 SOG
Game Notes: The defending league champion MAINEiacs continue to struggle and their 1-4-0(OTL)-0(SOL) record is the worst in the league. The clubâ€™s loss in New Brunswick Sunday was their fourth loss in a row after opening the season with a win. Ward has no goals and two assists in five games. He is also minus-5 with 12 PIM.