Spokane Chiefs 2 @ Vancouver Giants 5
G Dustin Tokarski, SPO: Loss, 34 saves on 39 shots
Season totals: 45 GP, 29-14-0-2, 1.94 GAA, .937 sv%, 6 shutouts
C James Wright, VAN: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, +17, 41 PIM
A big game for both of these WHL heavyweights and it was not one of the best for Dustin Tokarski. The WHL MVP candidate allowed five goals in the loss, including another early goal that put his team down in the first period. James Wright fed a soft pass at the blueline to Andrej Kudrna, who broke in on a partial breakaway before fanning on his attempt at a slap shot. The off-speed puck fooled Tokarski, sliding under his pads as he sat in the butterfly. It was Vancouver's second shot of the game. Mitch Fadden beat him on the game's first shot in the Tri-City matchup on Sunday.
Evander Kane beat him on the power play to tie the game at 2 for Vancouver when he deftly deflected a point shot up and over Tokarskiâ€™s leg into the top of the net. Adam Basford beat Tokarski mid-way through the second on a backhanded shot from the bottom of the cirle â€“ much like Sidney Crosbyâ€™s vs. the New York Rangers recently (except not on the rush) â€“ that Tokarski had no chance on and Basford looked as surprised as anyone it went in. That goal gave the Giants a lead they would never relinquish.
Vancouver moved to 50-7-1-3 on the year. They are 15 points ahead of Tri-City for the top spot in the West. Spokane sits in third at 39-19-0-3, one point ahead of Kelowna and eight back of the Americans.
A soft goal was the difference.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 44 shots in the game. He had a respectable save percentage in the game, but he never looked completely comfortable to me and the soft goal he allowed to Jason Strudwick on a long point shot that he badly misplayed his angle on ended up being the difference. It's nothing that will get him demoted, but I would expect McKenna back in for the next game.
02:20 EDM Cole (15), (unassisted)
05:40 EDM Strudwick (2), (Gagner)
02:30 TB Murphy (2), (St. Louis, Recchi)(PP)
12:23 TB Stamkos (11), (Malone)
13:15 EDM Souray (16), (Cogliano)
02:20 EDM Cogliano (14), (Stortini, Moreau)
13:46 TBL Murphy (3), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)
19:58 EDM Souray (17), (Brodziak)(EN)
Marek Malik needs to be put down like Old Yeller. Man up, Brian Lawton. It's time. Erik Cole made Malik look like he was moving in reverse on the Oilers' first goal. Sad.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 21:59.
David Koci had 7 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 6:09.
Harju still riding high...
The Lightning steal the win.
Karri Ramo stopped 40 of 43 shots for the win. He's not playing perfect hockey, but he is playing relaxed and making saves and keeping the Lightning in a position to compete. Tonight he won despite his club being outshot 43-18. His night in a nutshell: he gave up an awful rebound to Phil Kessel coming in off the wing with the game tied 3-3 and then made an athletic pad save in close to bail himself out. Flawless? No. But he's battling, and getting fair results.
Bobby Taylor has talked recently on the broadcasts how defensemen who come up to the NHL sometimes find it easier because the forwards are always in the proper position on the breakout. I wonder if Ramo is looking more relaxed partially because he worries less about the team in front of him being in the proper position and not overcompensating for odd man rushes or back door plays.
01:38 BOS Kessel (25), (Savard, Lucic)
04:44 TB Halpern (4), (Pettinger, Eminger)
04:59 TB Hall (4), (Craig, Artyukhin)
16:42 BOS Ference (1), (Savard, Wideman)(PP)
10:00 TB Recchi (13), (Melichar, Koci)
15:17 BOS Chara (14), (Kobasew, Ward)
18:27 TB Prospal (15), (Halpern, St. Louis)(PP)
It's nice to be able to take Jeff Halpern's picture off the milk carton, too.
Matt Smaby had 4 hits and 5 blocked shots in 22:06. I'll bet you, dollars to donuts, 75% of the GM's who talk to Brian Lawton next week ahead of the deadline will try to scam him out of #32, and that Lawton will tell them, "No thanks."
David Koci had his first NHL assist, was +1, and had 3 hits in 7:06. David Koci: The Secret Weapon.
Courtnall finishes regular season with another multi-point night ... Ward vs. Barberio and Tokarski vs. Fadden ... Wright gets on the scoresheet.
Killorn nets PPG...Vermont PP continues to struggle...UMASS brings brooms out...Only two weekend series left in regular season.
Keller is also getting in line for a recall.
Riku Helenius stopped 24 of 26 shots for the win to even his record at 4-4-0 this season. He is now sitting on 1 shutout, a 2.18 GAA, and a .938 save percentage. What's the definition of a "good problem" to have? Karri Ramo and Mike McKenna acquitting themselves fairly well in the NHL while your young #1 starter is out injured, Helenius playing well in the AHL, and young Dustin Tokarski standing on his head in junior. That is a "good problem" to have.
BNG Mauldin, (12) (Regin, Hamel), 11:54
BNG Mauldin, (13) (Fata, Regin), 17:56
NOR Potulny, (8) (Brookbank, Jones), 1:27
NOR Jones, (11) (Lundin, Konopka), 14:44 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (21) (Keller, Konopka), 3:43
NOR Keller, (11) (Bochenski), 11:08
I find it fascinating that, despite spotting him a significant head start, Keller has caught Blair Jones in the goal department. Jones still has a mammoth lead on Keller in assists and a better points per game number, but that may be a little inflated with power play assists with Blair playing the point position so much. This may be another really good problem for the Lightning organization to have if Keller and Jones continue to hit the scoresheet and, along with Brandon Segal, continue to push for late season recalls.
For those who have been wondering, Vladimir Mihalik has been out with a nasty concussion.
Norfolk climbs back to 3 games under .500. I think the season would be considered a success, given the rocky beginnings, if the team could climb to a winning record. It could be the foundation of a return to the playoffs next season with the Admirals getting an injection of a little more speed and skill with guys like Dana Tyrell coming on board.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned prospect right wing Steve Downie and defenseman Ty Wishart to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manage Brian Lawton announced today. Downie's reassignment likely comes as a result of a report in the Columbus Dispatch today that veteran center Chris Gratton has been claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets on re-entry waivers. The 6-4, 220-pound forward had been playing for Nolfolk and he will join the Jackets for the trip to Western Canada which begins on Tuesday in Calgary.
Gratton, 33, is a veteran of 1,086 NHL games, scoring 214 goals and contributing 353 assists. Jackets General manager Scott Howson said the move would not prevent the Jackets from searching for another center before the trade deadline.
Downie, a 5-foot-10, 192-pound native of Newmarket, Ontario, posted one goal and three points with 34 penalty minutes in 11 games after being recalled from Norfolk on January 26. Wishart, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, appeared in three games with the Lightning after being called up on February 16. He registered an NHL career high with 15:52 of ice time last night with Tampa Bay in Carolina.
Courtnall back on the scoresheet ... Fadden gets another First Star ... Tokarski beaten by the other Pickard ... Jung returns in a big way.