Good power play + solid goaltending= wins. Tampa could learn a thing or two from the way the Falcons are manufacturing victories.
Jonathan Boutin, AKA December's Hot Hand, AKA The Boutin Wall, stopped 21 of 22 shots faced for the win. Boutin has won 4 straight stars and has temporarily done the impossible and wrestled Steve Stirling's starting job away from wunderkind Karri Ramo. His 1.24 GAA in 6 appearances this month is, in a word, sick. Andy Delmore led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist, both on the power play. Wingers Justin Keller and Marek Kvapil also had 1 goal and 1 assist in the game. Randy Rowe had the Falcons' other goal with individual helpers belonging to Blair Jones, Doug O'Brien and Dan Cavanaugh.
After dropping their first two games last weekend and evoking memories of last season's mid-December collapse, Steve Stirling has managed to halt the slide quickly and now start a 2 game winning streak to get to 15-12-0 good for 30 points. If the season ended today, the Falcons would be tied for 7th place in the Eastern Conference and they're just 3 points behind Portland for the Atlantic Division lead. Tomorrow night's game against Eastern Division power Norfolk will be a real test of just how far the Falcons have come in the past couple of months. The Falcons were embarassed by the Admirals in Norfolk in an ugly back to back set on the team's first road trip of the season and were reeling for weeks after the experience. A solid win against Norfolk tomorrow night could bring this team full circle from its humble beginnings this season, and really set them up to break out after Christmas.
SYR Canzanello, (1) (Motzko), 17:06
SPR Kvapil, (5) (Delmore, Keller), 18:38 (PP)
SPR Delmore, (7) , 8:50 (PP)
SPR Keller, (9) (Jones, Kvapil), 13:17
SPR Rowe, (1) (O'Brien, Cavanaugh), 3:44
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Get Morgan Cey some combat pay.
Morgan Cey stopped 43 of 45 shots he faced in regulation and overtime to steal a point tonight for a Johnstown team which was outshot 45-19 in total. Eric Przepiorka and PJ Atherton had the Chiefs goals with individual helpers going to Maxime Boisclair, Jean Desrochers and Doug Andress. Unfortunately, the Chiefs went just 1 for 5 in the penalty shot with the lone goal being scored by Andre Deveaux and they ended up losing the shootout 2 to 1.
CIN Ftorek, (2) (Aubin, Gajda), 1:45
JHN Przepiorka, (2) (Boisclair), 8:23
JHN Atherton, (2) (Desrochers, Andress), 16:09 (PP)
CIN Deitsch, (10) (Stewart, Ftorek), 18:14
CIN- Daoust, Deitsch
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
Chris Lawrence scored a hat trick and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes as Mississauga defeated Brampton 6-4. Lawrence was named first star of the game. The RW/C now has 20 goals and 40 points in 28 games this season. His previous best for a year was last season's 23 goals and 53 points in 67 games split between Sault Ste Marie and Mississauga.
There's nothing much to say. This team just seems to have the worst kind of karma right now.
The Lightning outshot Montreal 41-20 in the game, but Huet stood on his head allowing the Canadiens to stay in the game. They get a deflection goal in the third to tie and then a semi-soft shorthander later in the period (Denis must stop that one) and that's all she wrote. It's gotten into the realm of the absurd now.
Montreal 6:38, Maxim Lapierre 1 (Mike Komisarek, Garth Murray)
Montreal 13:34, Saku Koivu 11 (shorthanded) (Alexei Kovalev, Sheldon Souray)
Montreal 19:14, Saku Koivu 12 (empty net) (Mark Streit, Sheldon Souray)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Marek Bartanus was scoreless in Owen Sound's 2-1 shootout loss to Barrie. Since a 4 assist night against Oshawa on November 3rd which at the time marked the high point of Bartanus' season, the Slovakian winger has had just 1 goal and 2 points in his last 15 games. Bartanus is also -8 during that span and has not been a plus player in any of those 15 games.
Dane Crowley had a power play assist and 4 penalty minutes as Swift Current defeated Lethbridge 4-3 in a shootout to cap another come from behind victory. Crowley was also on the ice for the final shift of regulation where the Broncos scored with just 9 seconds left to force overtime and, eventually, the penalty shot session.
For some reason, I want to believe tonight's collapse is rock bottom, but the more I think about it the more aprehensive I am that the worst is yet to come.
The Lightning choked away a 3-1 lead by allowing 4 unanswered goals in a 20 minute segment between the second and third periods in the loss. Johan Holmqvist stopped just 20 of 25 shots he faced in taking the L and it appears as teams start to see him the second time around, they're eating him alive. I've never seen a 6'3" goaltender play smaller than Holmqvist does, and I'm not sure if it's correctable at this stage of his career. The good news is that young prospects like Karri Ramo and Jonathan Boutin are getting better by the game in the AHL, but that's not helping the team right now.
Vincent Lecavalier, who would be a bona fide MVP candidate if the team wasn't underacheiving at 1 game under .500, had 1 goal and 2 assists in the game while his partner in crime, Martin St. Louis, had 1 goal and 1 assist. Filip Kuba and Dan Boyle each had 2 helpers while Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards had the other Lightning goals.
At this point, you're going to hear the mighty Wurlitzer that is the Canadian hockey media start writing the Lightning's epitaph and I have no doubt the bogus trade rumors are going to start flowing hot and heavy. A lot of pressure is going to come bearing down on Feaster to make some sort of changes to right the ship and this team desperately needs a stay-at-home top four defenseman and possibly a decent natural right winger as well. It's beginning to get to the point where the points this team isn't picking up against beatable opponents like Toronto will definitely destroy their playoff chances, and I fear what the result will be if and when PS&E's bean counters decide to downsize the payroll. If these players really do value their time in Tampa and the team that has been built there over the past 7-8 years, they need to step up now because there will be irrevocable structural changes to the roster if they don't. I feel like John just introduced Yoko to the rest of the group, and this band may be on borrowed time.
Toronto 3:28, Alexei Ponikarovsky 9 (power play) (Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe)
Tampa Bay 7:32, Nikita Alexeev 9 (Vincent Lecavalier, Filip Kuba)
Tampa Bay 12:29, Vincent Lecavalier 18 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Filip Kuba)
Tampa Bay 0:24, Brad Richards 12 (Martin St. Louis)
Toronto 12:55, Chad Kilger 5 (Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca)
Toronto 19:30, Chad Kilger 6 (Michael Peca, Pavel Kubina)
Toronto 3:37, Darcy Tucker 18 (power play) (Mats Sundin, Kyle Wellwood)
Toronto 10:55, Jeff O'Neill 9 (Bates Battaglia, Ian White)
Tampa Bay 16:16, Martin St. Louis 18 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Art Femenella had a goal and was +2 in Vermont's 7-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 team. Femenella also had 2 PIM.
Mike Lundin was +3 in Maine's 7-1 win over Northeastern.
John Wessbecker was scoreless and even in UMASS' 5-2 loss to Boston College.
Dusty Collins was scoreless with 2 PIM in Northern Michigan's 3-2 loss to Michigan State.
Two firsts with this week's selection...
The Springfield Falcons have announced that they have signed left wing Randy Rowe to a PTO contract and recalled him from Johnstown of the ECHL. In addition, center Jean Desrochers has been released from his PTO and returned to the Chiefs from Springfield.
Rowe currently leads the Chiefs in scoring with 10 goals and 29 points in 21 games, good for 7th in scoring in the ECHL. Desrochers played 16 games in Springfield, posting 2 goals and 3 points with a -5 rating and 6 penalty minutes.