A good start to the game and good effort throughout, but nothing to show for it.
Daniel Briere scored his first career hattrick and Ryan Miller was in all-star form as Buffalo erased a 1-0 deficit with four unanswered goals on their way to a 4-1 victory on Dave Andreychuk night. Vincent Lecavalier's wraparound goal in the game's first minute was the only marker for Tampa - who had multiple scoring chances, but saw passes jump over sticks, shots hit skates, and/or Miller come up big. Vaclav Prospal had the only assist on the evening, and even that was speculative as it appeared Prospal gave the puck away behind the net and Jochen Hecht of Buffalo was trying to swing it around the end boards when Lecavalier blocked the attempt with his right foot, then kicked the puck to his stick with his left foot before putting it through the legs of an unsuspecting Miller for the goal.
Andre Roy saw his first action for the Lightning since the Cup year and fought Andrew Peters in his first shift. Roy's physical play also sparked Nick Tarnasky to throw more hits and that line - which was centered by captain Tim Taylor - was very effective not only on the forecheck, but creating scoring chances.
Once again, however, if the Lightning made a mistake, the puck ended up in the back of the net. This was highlighted by an odd decision by Brad Richards to stickhandle through a player while he was the last man back - resulting in a turnover that led to Buffalo's third goal. Just as odd was Martin St. Louis trying basically the same thing later in the game, and he nearly lost the puck to an opposing player in front of Mark Denis, who made 25 saves on the night, including a miraculous save on Maxim Afinogenov when Denis dove to his right and got his stick on a shot headed for an open net. Easily the save of the year so far for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay 0:53, Vincent Lecavalier 14 (Vaclav Prospal)
Buffalo 7:17, Daniel Briere 11 (Jason Pominville, Dmitri Kalinin)
Buffalo 10:34, Chris Drury 17 (Nathan Paetsch, Ales Kotalik)
Buffalo 17:15, Daniel Briere 12 (Jochen Hecht)
Buffalo 12:21, Daniel Briere 13 (Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
There can be co-winners because it's my column and I make the rules...
Apologies for the delay on getting yesterday's Superleague scores up.
Evgeny Artyukhin was scoreless in Yaroslavl's 2-2 tie with Chekhov.
Alexei Glukhov had an assist in Cherepovets' 4-2 loss to Nizhnekamsk.
Anton But had a goal in St. Petersburg's 5-2 win over Kazan. Dimitri Kazionov was scoreless in the match for Ak Bars.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Falcons just posted their first 3-0-0 weekend of the season, and they did so without their #1 goaltender. Impressive.
Gerald Coleman, who was recalled to start this game, masterfully weathered a 40 minute barrage that saw the Falcons outshot 29-15 through two periods to deliver the Falcons into the third period with a 1-0 lead. The Devils would tie the game up with 6:55 left in the game, but Coleman would allow no more stopping 37 of 38 shots faced in the game. Dan Cavanaugh paced the Falcons with 2 assists but it was David Spina's goal scored just a little over 2 minutes after the Devils tied the game in the third period that delivered the win on assists from Blair Jones and Stanislav Lascek. Jones' point snapped what had been a 10 game scoreless streak at the AHL. Rookie Justin Keller and veteran Norm Milley (empty netter) supplied the other Falcons goals. Marek Kvapil also had an assist in the game. Spina and Coleman were named the first and second stars of the game.
The win temporarily moves Springdfield to 13-10-0 this season tied with Providence for second in the Atlantic Division at 26 points. Regardless of the outcome of Providence's game with Albany (in progress) the Falcons have now moved a tantalizingly close 4 points behind idle Portland for the division lead. If the playoffs started right this moment, the Falcons would be the #6 seed in the East. How fun is this?
The Lightning organization has to be incredibly proud of how their young goaltenders performed this weekend in the absence of ace netminder Karri Ramo who was recalled to Tampa. Jonathan Boutin seized the opportunity presented to him by Ramo's absence by posting a pair of wins on Friday and Saturday night to get the ball rolling. And then Gerald Coleman rose to the occassion and played one of the best games by any Falcons goaltender this season fully taking advantage of the one game window he had to make a true statement about his place in the organization. As impressive as Boutin was, Coleman may have been even more clutch taking what he knew was one shot and making it count big time. Can you believe anyone ever doubted the depth in net the Lightning organization was developing? Can you believe with Riku Helenius and Vasily Koshechkin still in Europe that this may just be the tip of the iceberg?
SPR Keller, (7) (Cavanaugh, Kvapil), 11:28
LOW Tallackson, (4) (Minard, Papineau), 13:05
SPR Spina, (2) (Jones, Lascek), 15:18
SPR Milley, (10) (Cavanaugh, Corso), 19:59 (EN/PP)
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
The Springfield Falcons have announced the recall of goaltender Gerald Coleman from Springfield for this afternoon's game against the Lowell Devils. Coleman started the game for Springfield (in progress) allowing Jonathan Boutin the night off after starting in Friday and Saturday night's victories. Rookie Karri Ramo is expected to be returned to Springfield early in the week.
Dusty Collins had an assist in Northern Michigan's 5-2 loss to Lake Superior State. He finished with 2 shots and an even rating.
It was Collins' second assist of the season. He also has two goals in 17 games.