If Vincent Lecavalier played in a bigger market, there'd be no doubt who the MVP would be this season.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 23 of 25 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier had 1 goal and 2 assists to boost his season point total to 106. If you had a fever that high, you'd be dead. Dan Boyle had 1 goal and 1 assist and is now just one goal shy of the difficult to reach 20 goal mark for a defenseman. Also with 1 goal (shorthanded) and 1 assist Martin St. Louis goes into triple digits with a sick but still non-lethal 101. And, Cory Sarich had a multi-point night with 2 assists?!?!? Stock up on canned goods, people. Ryan Craig and Jason Ward had the other Lightning goals with individual helpers going to Paul Ranger, Andreas Karlsson, Filip Kuba and Vaclav Prospal.
With the win the Lightning keep pace with Atlanta three points back in the division with their head-to-head match up still on tap in the season finale. They gain two points on the Islanders, who lost tonight, and maintain their gap on victorious Toronto, Montreal and the Rangers.
Some numbers to consider as we enter the waning games of the season:
-As mentioned, with one more goal Dan Boyle will reach 20 goals for a defenseman.
-With 4 more points, Filip Kuba would reach the 40 point plateau. Difficult, but not impossible.
-Despite missing almost 10 games with a knee injury, Paul Ranger is 3 points shy of the 30 point plateau. Also difficult, but not impossible.
-Netminder Johan Holmqvist recorded his 26th win of the season last night. Even if the Lightning run the table, he cannot reach 30 wins. Darn the flu.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
If the playoffs started tonight, Johnstown would be in.
Morgan Cey stopped 35 of 35 shots faced for the shutout. ATO Rob Lehtinen led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist while red hot Radek Smolenak had a pair of assists. John Adams had the other Chiefs goal and Marek Kvapil also stayed hot with an assist. Cey, Lehtinen and Adams were the game's three stars.
The win moves Johnstown back to .500 for the season at 31-31-6 and moves one point ahead of Reading into the final playoff spot in the ECHL North Division while still holding a game in hand. With Wheeling losing tonight to Cincinnati, Johnstown should have a 2 point lead on the Nailers as well at night's end. Johnstown controls their destiny and is now riding a three game winning streak in which they have beaten Cincinatti (#2 in the North Division), Toledo (#3 in the North Division) and Dayton (#1 in the North Division). Kvapil= season changer.
JHN Adams, (4) (Lehtinen, Smolenak), 4:14 (PP)
JHN Lehtinen, (2) (Kvapil, Smolenak), 8:34
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
The season can't end soon enough.
Jonathan Boutin allowed 5 goals on 28 shots in the loss. Calling up Karri Ramo to avoid this mess? Smart move by the Lightning. ATO Justin Fletcher had the only Falcons goal off an assist by Adam Henrich.
POR Motzko, (26) , 5:58 (SH)
POR Motzko, (27) (Miller, Wilson), 10:40 (PP)
SPR Fletcher, (1) (Henrich), 5:33
POR Carter, (14) (Miller), 15:02 (PP)
POR Blanchard, (3) (Ryan, Hartigan), 5:29
POR Miller, (13) (Ryan, Ferguson), 6:44
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Kazan got off to a great start in the opening game of their semifinal series round against CSKA winning 5-2. Dimitri Kazionov was scoreless in the match for Ak Bars.
Kazan took a commanding 2-0 series lead defeating CSKA 4-2. Dimitri Kazionov was scoreless in the match for Ak Bars.
Game Three is scheduled for Sunday. A Kazan victory would send Kazionov and his team through to the Superleague finals.
Spokane 1 @ Everett 5
Everett leads best-of-7 series 3-2
The Everett Silvertips used a four goal second period to break open a tie game and untie their opening round series with Spokane. The Tips ended up with a 5-1 victory over the Chiefs, taking a 3-2 lead in the series. Dane Crowley was scoreless and plus-1 in the win. Game 6 is in Spokane Sunday.
Most "ginormous-est" win of the season thus far.
Johan Holmqvist played well stopping 26 of 28 shots for the win. Vincent Lecavalier had an MVP caliber performance with 1 goal and 2 assists on 11 shots on goal in the victory. The goal was his 50th of the season and Lecavalier now sits at 103 points through 78 games. Wow. Vaclav Prospal also had a multi-point night with 1 goal and 1 assist and Martin St. Louis and the scoring machine that is Filip Kuba had the other Lightning goals. Shane O'Brien and Paul Ranger had individual assists.
The win moves the Lightning back to within 3 points of Atlanta in the division with a game in hand. The most minute stumble by the Thrashers could set up an epic season finale with first round home ice and a division banner at stake. In addition, the Lightning open up a 3 point lead on 9th place and leapfrog the Rangers into 6th in the conference.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
One thing I won't miss in Norfolk: getting annihilated for what seems like two dozen games a year by Providence.
Jonathan Boutin, whose save percentage is sinking faster than a submarine with a screen door, allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the loss before being pulled for Kevin Beech who allowed 1 goal on 9 shots. Eric Healey and ATO signee Jacob Micflikier had the Falcons goals. Jay Rosehill and Norm Milley added assists.
PRO Walter, (23) (Trevelyan, Bentivoglio), 13:21
PRO Walter, (24) (Krejci, Pelletier), 16:37 (PP)
PRO Krejci, (28) (Glenn, Trevelyan), 17:05 (PP)
SPR Healey, (27) (Rosehill, Milley), 14:15
PRO Bentivoglio, (2) (Trevelyan, Walter), 18:20 (PP)
SPR Micflikier, (1) , 11:21
PRO Trevelyan, (23) (Glenn), 17:44 (PP)
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
All of a sudden, with Special K as the spark, the playoff math is starting to favor the Chiefs.
Ryan Munce made 24 stops for the win. The former Kings draft pick has won 3 of his last 4 starts. Radek Smolenak posted a 1 goal and 3 assist night to pace the Chiefs. Marek Kvapil added 3 assists and Gus Katsuras chipped in a pair of goals. Zbynek Hrdel had 1 goal and 1 assist and PJ Atherton had 2 assists to complete the list of 5 Chiefs players who posted multi-point nights. Defensemen John Adams and Ian MacLean had the team's other goals. Maxime Boisclair and Andrew Martens added individual helpers. Smolenak, Katsuras and Kvapil were named the game's three stars.
And just like that Johnstown is just 1 point out of a playoff spot with 2 games in hand on the Reading Royals.
JHN Katsuras, (8) (Boisclair, Hrdel), 2:10
TOL Martin, (11) (Walsh, Blight), 6:40
JHN Hrdel, (11) (Kvapil, Smolenak), 14:46 (PP)
JHN Adams, (3) (Kvapil, Smolenak), 18:22 (PP)
JHN MacLean, (3) (Smolenak, Kvapil), 5:07
JHN Smolenak, (15) (Atherton, Martens), 8:20
JHN Katsuras, (9) (Atherton), 19:10 (PP)
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
London 8 @ Owen Sound 5
London wins best-of-7 series 4-0
Marek Bartanus and Owen Sound saw their season come to an end tonight as London defeated the Attack 8-5. The Attack outshot the Knights by a significant margin in all four games, including 47-19 tonight. Anthony Guadagnolo stopped only 8 of 14 shots for Owen Sound before being pulled this evening. The undrafted goaltender finished the series with an .804 save percentage and a 5.09 GAA. Bartanus finished the playoffs with one assist and a plus-1 rating in the four games. It is unlikely he'll be brought back as an overager by Owen Sound and he is a longshot for a professional contract after registering only 20 points in 57 games in this, his second year in the OHL. This may have been the last we'll see of Bartanus in North America.
Mississauga 3 @ Sudbury 6
Sudbury leads best-of-7 series 3-1
Thanks to a five-goal second period, the upset-minded Sudbury Wolves put the Mississauga IceDogs on the brink of elimination with a 6-3 win tonight. Chris Lawrence had a power play goal early in the game to tie the contest at one, but it wasn't enough for the IceDogs. He also had six minutes in penalties. He finished minus-3. Game 5 is back in Mississauga on Sunday.
Linkopings is going to the Elitserien finals.
The club completed a five game upset of top seeded Farjestads today bumping off the regular season's best team 6-2. Lightning defenseman prospect Andreas Holmqvist did not suit up for Linkopings. The club now awaits the winner of the ongoing MODO/HV71 series.