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NHL Game Night 12/26: Lightning at Panthers

Florida's luck finally ran out in the shootout.

TB-4
FLA-3 (SO)

Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before stopping 2 of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.

First Period
11:24 TB Eminger (2), (Ranger)
18:28 FLA Ballard (4), (Boynton, Dvorak)

Second Period
16:53 TB Recchi (8), (Eminger, Pettinger)
18:27 TB Artyukhin (2), (Malone, Eminger)

Third Period
13:37 FLA Stillman (8), (Bouwmeester, Ballard)(PP)
19:46 FLA McCabe (6), (Weiss, Stillman)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Hall, Jokinen, Malone
FLA- Stillman, Horton

Interesting message sent by Tocchet to Lecavalier and St. Louis by going with shooters like Hall and Artyukhin in the shootout session. Considering the Lightning have won the past two games on the road without any meaningful contributions offensively from the top line, one could interpret this as a wake-up call. If Lecavalier and Marty ever do get it cooking along with the secondary scoring the team has, they could reel off a winning streak here. Taking both ends of a home-and-home away from that vile cesspool of a franchise down in South Florida by winning tomorrow night at home would be an outstanding morale booster for the team and the fanbase alike.

Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 14:30. He got a fair amount of ice time but wasn't terribly noticable.

Steven Stamkos was +1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 13:17. He was really flying tonight, and he had a point blank chance in the third period that could've been the dagger in Florida's heart. He's still struggling anywhere below the circles because of his lack of strength, but his jump was good tonight and he seemed more aggressive. If they can get that effort from Stamkos every night for the next little while, they'll take it, I'm sure.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/23: Lightning at Penguins

Best performance of the year by the Lightning.

TB-2
PIT-0

Mike Smith stopped 15 of 15 shots faced for the big shutout win. He was on tonight. No rebounds.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
05:15 TB Pettinger (2), (Szczechura, Recchi)

Third Period
11:14 TB Szczechura (2), (Jokinen, Recchi)(PP)

Paul Szczechura, Matt Pettinger, and Mark Recchi were your three stars, and let me tell you, Szczechura played an awesome game at both ends of the ice. #38 seems to live in the opposing team's passing lanes, and when the Lightning went into the trap in the third period he drove the Pens crazy by picking off pass after pass. He set up the first goal. He scored the insurance goal. And he was all up in the Pens business to protect what he helped build. Great game by Szczechura. He's a revelation. Quite possibly the smartest prospect in Lightning history.

Szczechura had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and he was 29% on draws in 13:28. He tortured Pittsburgh in those 13:28.

Steven Stamkos was a non-factor in 7:47 of ice time.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Tyrell's Tournament, Season, Junior Career Over

In the blink of an eye, Lightning prospect Dana Tyrell went from being on top of the junior hockey world - finally making Team Canada's WJC squad, being put on a line with expected leader John Tavares, leveling super-prospect Victor Hedman with a vicious check - to looking at knee surgery and months of rehab.

Several Canadian news outlets, including the Sun media, are reporting Tyrell is done for not only the tournament, but the year after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament and a partially tearing his medial collateral ligament. The center/winger will need surgery and was scheduled to return to his hometown of Airdrie, Alta., last night (Sunday).

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 12/21

World Junior Championships (exhibition)
Canada 7 vs. Finland 3
W Dana Tyrell, CAN: Did not play - out for tournament.
G Dustin Tokarski, CAN: Win, 14 saves on 17 shots

Tokarski got the full game for Canada, but was beaten early when Finland's Nestori Lahde caught St. Louis Blues super-prospect Alex Pietrangelo flat footed resulting in a semi-breakaway. Lahde put a high wrister over Tokarski's shoulder. Tokarski had little chance on the second goal as a Finn was left alone in front and after taking a pass from behind the net, potted a wrister over Tokarski's arm as Dustin tried to square to the shooter and eliminate space.

Tokarski will watch as Chet Pickard gets the next exhibition start for Canada against Slovakia.

Russia Wins Channel One Cup

Team Russia won the Swedish leg of the Euro Tour this week going 3-0-0 in the Channel One Cup.

Defenseman Janne Niskala appeared for Finland (1-1-1) in the tournament, registering a pair of goals in his team's tournament closing 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. Niskala also had 4 penalty minutes and was -1 for the week.

Johan Harju was a late addition for Sweden after an injury to one of the Tre Kroner's forwards. Harju had a power play assist in garbage time of Sweden's 6-2 loss in Russia. Harju also had 2 penalty minutes and was -1 in the tournament.

Lightning Recall Ramo, Reassign Helenius to Norfolk

With Lightning netminder Olaf Kolzig continuing to be bothered with an upper body injury, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced that Tampa has recalled prospect goaltender Karri Ramo from the Norfolk Admirals. Ramo joined the team in Pittsburgh ahead of their Tuesday night tilt against the Penguins. Kolzig was sent home to Tampa after Saturday night's game 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. Ramo backstopped the Admirals to their third straight victory last night in Philadelphia, stopping 30 shots in regulation and overtime and all four shooters in the shootout in a 3-2 win.

In addition, Admirals General Manager Mike Butters announced that Riku Helenius was reassigned from the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves by Tampa to the Norfolk Admirals. Despite a record of 3-0-0 with a 2.28 GAA and 0.944 SV% in 3 games since joining the Sea Wolves, Helenius served as Ryan Munce's backup in back-to-back road games against the Florida Everblades Friday and Saturday nights with Munce giving up a pair of 5-2 losses. Mississippi doesn't play again until after Christmas, and Helenius' recall to Norfolk will give him some more time to practice with Lightning goaltending coach Cap Raeder this week.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 12/20

Team Canada Notes:
Canada called in Evander Kane, a BP favorite and teammate of Lightning prospect James Wright in Vancouver, to presumably take the spot of the injured Dana Tyrell. Tyrell suffered a "significant" knee injury Friday night in an exhibition game vs. Sweden and his tournament officially over.

Also, Canada coach Pat Quinn said the goaltenders' peformance Friday night did not sway him one way or another on a starter. Dustin Tokarski (0 GAA Friday) and Chet Pickard (2 GAA Friday) will go into today's game neck and neck.

BCHL
Prince George Spruce Kings 1 @ Victoria Grizzlies 2
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-1-1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 38 GP, 12-31-43, 62 PIM

Courtnall goes into the Christmas break with a clear future (Boston University in the fall) and the Grizzlies scoring lead. He is 13th in league scoring. Powell’s Darcy Oakes, 31-38-69 in 39 games, is 19 points ahead of anyone else in the league. The 6-0, 175-pound Oakes is a 20 year old winger from Ontario.

USHL
Des Moines @ Fargo Force - POSTPONED
Inclement weather in the upper-midwest forced the postponement of all USHL games.

The QMJHL, OHL, WHL are all off until December 27 for Christmas.

AHL Game Night 12/20: Admirals at Phantoms

Karri getting it cooking?

NOR-3
PHI-2 (SO)

Karri Ramo allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before stopping all 4 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.

First Period
NOR Smolenak, (12) (Segal, Jones), 14:35 (PP)

Second Period
PHI Ross, (13) (Guenin, Giroux), 12:48
NOR Ward, (2) (Downie, Jones), 17:26 (PP)

Third Period
PHI Giroux, (17) (Ross), 14:17

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
NOR- Bochenski, Gratton
PHI- NONE

Brandon Bochenski and Ramo were the game's first and third stars.

Good road win, although the team went into a bit of a shell in the third period getting outshot 15-5. Ramo finally let in the 13th or 14th one he faced in the period, and they went to overtime. Still, the Ads played a great 40 minutes, got a couple of power play goals, and then exorcized some demons in the shootout. Defense in playing better. Goaltending is playing better. And, you've got a dangerous group of forwards that is basically three lines deep. They're still 4 games under .500, and about 7 points behind Binghamton and Wilkes/Barre with both teams holding games in hand on Norfolk, but the Admirals have a slew of home games coming up in January. So, for Norfolk, I think the push is to get back to .500 and by then, hopefully, be within striking distance of 4th place and have something to play for down the stretch.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night 12/20: Lightning at Thrashers

Man, it's humbling to lose to a terrible team like the Thrashers.

TB-3
ATL-4

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 30 shots for the loss.

First Period
00:18 ATL Kozlov (15), (unassisted)
03:54 TB St. Louis (11), (Malone, Recchi)(PP)
08:15 TB Hall (3), (Jokinen, Craig)
15:13 ATL Perrin (3), (Valabik, Williams)
18:23 ATLP White (10), (Little, Kovalchuk)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
04:06 ATL Crabb (2), (Boulton, Slater)
17:28 TB St. Louis (12), (Lecavalier, Stamkos)(PP)

This was the first game where Szczechura was kind of a non-factor. He had a real opportunity to send Ryan Craig in on a breakaway when a Thrashers defenseman overplayed him on a 2-on-1. Other than that? Very little.

Paul Szczechura had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:54.

Steven Stamkos had an assist and 1 hit and was 67% on draws in 13:22.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Courtnall Chooses Boston University

According to a Boston University fan blog, Justin Courtnall of the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies has pledged his services to NCAA hockey power Boston University. The Terriers are currently ranked No.3 in the latest USCHO men's Division I hockey poll.

Courtnall currently leads the Grizzlies in scoring with 12 goals, 30 assists and 42 points in 37 games.

He joins defenseman Luke Witkowski (Fargo, USHL - Western Michigan Univ.) as North American junior prospects of the Lightning with verbal commitments to NCAA programs.

A verbal commitment is not binding. Commitments can be made official when a player has signed his letter of intent.

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