With tonight's loss and LA's win, the Lightning moved into the top spot in the Steve Stamkos sweepstakes, although they have a game in hand on the Kings.
Lightning had all the hustle, but couldn't bury the Panthers.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the loss. His puckhandling gaffe early in the game turned out to be the margin of difference.
Congratulations to Junior Lessard on his first goal as a member of the Lightning, and to Mathieu Darche who had an outstanding game. Shame on the homers in Sunrise for denying Darche a star of the game.
Matt Smaby was even in 8:38 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot. He made a good block in the first period but got caught out on a couple of 1 minute plus shifts which might be part of why he sat in the second period (although there were a lot of special teams in the middle frame). In the third period he was pretty solid and even did some business from the point on one shift helping to keep a couple of pucks in the zone. I really like the pairing of Smaby and Mike Lundin that has been put together by the coaching staff because I feel like each player's strength helps cover up the other's weakness. It would have been interesting if Boyle hadn't dropped the skate on his wrist this year to see these two Minnesota boys develop together as a unit in Norfolk. If they can stick together and learn to read off of each other, they could be a really good second or third pairing for the Lightning down the road. I'm already seeing flashes of Lundin reading what Smaby is doing and making the right adjustments to cover for what Matt is doing.
The Panthers were flat lucky to survive this game. The Lightning outworked and out played them for the final 55 minutes of the game and didn't let up even when they fell behind by two goals. This is a team filled with character guys playing their rear ends off for jobs next season. If the Lightning can throw in another skill player or two up front, this can get interesting. Also, if they can get a post and a chain to keep Smith and Ramo closer to their net, that might not be a bad investment either.
Ads lose a tough one late.
Marc Denis allowed 3 goals on 31 shots in the loss.
LOW Vrana, (14) (Gionta, Khomutov), 4:46 (PP)
NOR Klinkhammer, (12) , 2:32 (PEN/SH)
NOR Segal, (9) (Tyrell, Lawrence), 3:43
LOW Bergfors, (11) , 8:22 (PP)
LOW Ryznar, (7) (Davis, Fraser), 12:40
LOW Marshall, (5) (Ryznar, Ruggeri), 19:38 (EN)
Rob Klinkhammer was named the game's second star. The young man may have earned himself an NHL contract.
Congratulations to Dana Tyrell on his second professional point in as many games.
Chris Lawrence has 4 assists in his last 5 games.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
QMJHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN DIVISION
(5) Lewiston MAINEiacs 3 @ (4) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 8
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 1-0
D Michael Ward, LEW:
Game: Did not play (suspension)
King's pick Jonathan Bernier was lit up and pulled for Lewiston.
WHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN CONFERENCE
(6) Brandon Wheat Kings 1 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 2
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 1-0
C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
After trailing 1-0 mid-way through the third period, Dwight King and Zach Boychuk scored on back-to-back power plays within a minute of each other to give Lethbridge the win.
WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE
(6) Everett Silvertips 2 @ (3) Spokane Chiefs 5
Spokane leads Best of 7 series 1-0
D Dane Crowley, EVT:
Game: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (unsportsmanlike conduct)
Spokane got out to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back. Kyle Beach returned to the Everett lineup and was scoreless with 2 PIM.
(5) Kelowna Rockets 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 2
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 1-0
G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play.
G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 23 saves on 26 shots
One of the two Lightning property goaltenders in this series got the start for their respective teams, but Helenius and Seattle couldnâ€™t hold a 2-1 lead and dropped Game 1. Brady Leavold (undrafted) scored the GTG and GWG for Kelowna. His GTG came with 14 seconds left in the second period.
On any given night, this depleted Admirals team can still jump up and get you.
Marc Denis stopped 34 of 35 shots for the win including a stellar 19 save first period to help hold the Admirals in the game until they settled in during the second period. With a .934 save percentage in March, the veteran goaltender has raised his AHL save percentage to .905 on the season.
NOR Smolenak, (12) (Jones, Kvapil), 18:11 (PP)
LOW Bergfors, (10) (Murphy, Ruggeri), 9:27 (PP)
NOR Keller, (13) (Hurley, Lawrence), 12:09
NOR Smolenak, (13) (Kvapil, Kearns), 17:00
NOR Segal, (8) (Kearns, Egener), 19:29
NOR Jones, (14) (Segal, Tyrell), 3:05
NOR Klinkhammer, (11) (Keller), 19:24
Congratulations to Dana Tyrell on his first pro point. The speedy forward also had 1 shot on goal in the game.
They haven't been as consistent night to night as one might like, but these young Admirals forwards are quietly putting up some numbers and building up some momentum heading into camp next season.
Smolenak, who played himself out of Norfolk at the start of the season, has now caught Justin Keller in goals and sits just one back of Blair Jones, bolstering his bona fides as the organization's purest sniper prospect currently under contract. Since January 18, Smolenak has 13 goals and 22 points in 29 games. If he were play a full 80 game AHL season at that pace, he would score about 36 goals in a season.
Jones, who rode a 13 game pointless streak into February 8th, has 7 goals and 17 points in his last 21 games. That translates to 65 points over the course of a full season.
Justin Keller, who has been fairly consistent offensively since a slow first month of the season, has 4 goals and 13 points in his last 17 games. That pro-rates to 61 points.
Even Rob Klinkhammer is getting in the act, with 3 goals and 4 points in his last 5 games and Chris Lawrence now has 3 assists in the last 4 games.
So, despite losing Paul Szczechura, Norm Milley, Andy Rogers, and Mario Scalzo to injury AND losing Junior Lessard, Alexandre Picard, Karl Stewart, and Matt Smaby to recall, AND losing Jay Leach to a trade, AND seeing Kyle Wanvig put up an anemic 1 goal and 3 points in the last 12 games, these young forwards are doing some business offensively.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk Admirals General Manager Claude Loiselle today announced that the Admirals have signed center Dana Tyrell (DAYN-uh tigh-REHL) and defenseman Sean Hurley to Amateur Tryout Contracts (ATO). Both are expected to be in the lineup tonight at Scope against the Lowell Devils, with Tyrell wearing number 49 and Hurley wearing number 4.
It'll all be worth it when Steve Stamkos is a Bolt.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 23 shots for the loss.
Matt Smaby was even in 9:13 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots. Again, I thought he had a good first period in which he made a made a really nice block on a point shot and a really strong hit along the boards. In the second period his group got hemmed in a lot and although he wasn't terrible there were times he was floating a bit down low defensively. At one point, his pairing partner Mike Lundin had to bail him out. The general reviews were fair. The speed at the NHL level doesn't seem to be scaring him as much this go round, and he seems to be moving the puck crisply and efficiently. And, yes, he's still occassionally laying the wood to people which is the special characteristic that really stands him out from the crowd, in my opinion. This is a big audition for Smaby right now. With Alex Picard playing so well, it could make someone like Brad Lukowich or even Filip Kuba expendable if Smaby can step up and show he's ready to be the #7 defenseman in Tampa next year. Those millions could potentially be better spent on some second line scoring help. The key is going to be if Smaby improves in the coming games and if he can get his ice time to increase. The opportunity is there with Paul Ranger banged up. He needs to step up and close the sale.
A monumental come from behind victory in the Steve Stamkos sweepstakes.
Karri Ramo allowed 6 goals on 31 shots for the loss. When you're staked a three goal lead coming into the third period, you have to get the W. I don't care how bad the team plays in front of you. Ramo had to make it stand up, and he failed miserably. That's probably only the fourth bad start he's had this year.
Matt Smaby was -1 in 12:11 with 4 hits, including one particularly vicious hit standing up and dropping Patrick Kaleta on the rush. Like the rest of the team, I thought he played a pretty good first 40 minutes. But he didn't see much ice in the third. He did tie Vincent Lecavalier for the team high in hits with 4 though in his limited ice time, so there's something to build on.