The Lightning just answered the bell with remarkable punctuality.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in the game for the victory. Consider that for a moment. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and all the impressive firepower the Pittsburgh Penguins can array the Tampa Bay Lightning shut them down and held them to a paltry 18 shots on goal. And Shane O'Brien hasn't yet added his particular talents to this defensive corps.
Brad Richards ran wild on Pittsburgh with 1 goal and 3 assists. Martin St. Louis added 1 goal and 1 assist while Richards' linemates, Eric Perrin and Ruslan Fedotenko, each had 2 assists. Vincent Lecavalier scored his league leading 41st goal, a shorthanded marker, Filip Kuba his 10th and Paul Ranger had his 4th talley of the season. Dan Boyle had an individual assist.
And so, the Lightning fully capitalized on their game in hand on Atlanta and Carolina and have opened up a 3 point lead on the Smirkin' Chikins and a 4 points lead on the Hurricanes with just 18 games remaining in the regular season. The trade deadline is Tuesday. With the addition of one or two more forwards, this is a Stanley Cup contender. The ball is in your court, Jay Feaster.
Tampa Bay 2:17, Martin St. Louis 38 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 3:56, Paul Ranger 4 (Eric Perrin, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 4:58, Filip Kuba 10 (Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Pittsburgh 8:26, Sergei Gonchar 10 (power play) (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby)
Tampa Bay 1:31, Brad Richards 22 (Eric Perrin, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Tampa Bay 14:16, Vincent Lecavalier 41 (shorthanded) (Martin St. Louis)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Sudbury 5 @ Mississauga 4 (Shootout)
The IceDogs dropped their second straight home game to a team behind them in the conference standings, this time losing out on one point in a 5-4 shootout loss to Sudbury. The Wolves are 14 points behind Mississauga in the Central Division. Chris Lawrence scored his career-high 40th goal of the year in the loss, and was also even with charging and hooking minors. Lawrence shot first for the IceDogs in the shootout, but did not score.
London 3 @ Owen Sound 6
Despite having first rounders Bobby Ryan and Bobby Sanguinetti, Owen Sound sits third-worst in the Western Conference at 64 points. However, the Attack has clinched a playoff spot because all but two teams make it in and Erie (29 points) and Windsor (39) are so bad. London, on the other hand, has a league-best 90 points. This proves why games are played on the ice and not on computer screens as the Attack soundly beat the Knights 6-3 Saturday night. Marek Bartanus was scoreless and minus-1 in the game.
Ottawa 7 @ Erie 3
The good news is Erie finally held a team under 30 shots against (27), but the bad news is they still gave up 7 goals. Kevin Beech was responsible for a lot of those as he stopped just 20 of 25 shots before being pulled after 2 periods. His backup, Jonathan Laniel, stopped 0 of 2 in the third period when the 67â€™s called off the dogs.
Prince George 6 @ Kamloops 3
Vladimir Mihalik had two power play assists to help the Cougars defeat the Blazers in Kamploops, 6-3. Mihalik was even with an interference minor in the fight-filled game.
Everett 1 @ Seattle 4
Dane Crowley was a team worst minus-4 in Everettâ€™s 4-1 loss to the Thunderbirds in Seattle.
With the departure of Gerald Coleman to Anaheim's organization in the Shane O'Brien trade, we have removed Coleman from the prospects page. As a consequence, all prospects behind Coleman have moved up one spot each and we have selected winger Zbynek Hrdel to occupy the #25 spot in our rankings. Coleman is the second top-25 prospect to be traded since Bolt Prospects released it's Midterm Rankings in January, Andre Deveaux being the first.
Final nail in the Nailers' coffin?
Some context: entering this two game set in Wheeling the Nailers' head coach bombastically guaranteed that Wheeling would win both of these rivalry games and begin their climb out of the North Division basement. How'd that work out for him? Ahhhh, not so well.
Morgan Cey improved to 6-2 on the month by stopping 45 of 48 shots faced tonight. The Chiefs were led by Stanislav Lascek's 2 goals, including the critical overtime game winner. Lascek's point streak reaches 4 games after going 5 games without hitting the scoresheet. Lascek has 4 goals and 6 points with 6 penalty minutes and a +2 rating over that span with 19 shots on goal. Ben Wallace had 1 goal and 1 assist in the game while rookie Radek Smolenak had a pair of assists. Grant Jacobsen had the other Chiefs goal and Bryan Nathe, Ryan Gibbons, Randy Rowe, Gus Katsuras and Maxime Boisclair all had individual helpers.
The Chiefs appeared to have the game won with Wallace's goal coming with 40 seconds left in regulation but the Nailers responded 30 seconds later to force overtime. Nevertheless, the Nailers still found themselves 11 points behind Johnstown at the end of the night with their playoff chances on life support. Johnstown improves to 2 games over .500 and their win, coupled with a Dayton loss tonight, moves them back into a playoff spot in 5th place in the tightly compacted North Division. Johnstown is just 7 points back of 1st place Cincinnati and 4 points back of 3rd place Trenton with a game in hand. The top three teams in the North Division will receive a first round bye in the playoffs.
WHE Bissonnette, (8) (Collins), 13:43
JHN Jacobsen, (4) (Gibbons, Boisclair), 19:29
JHN Lascek, (11) (Katsuras, Smolenak), 4:47
WHE Guenther, (23) (Bissonnette, Cameron), 16:04 (PP)
JHN Wallace, (1) (Nathe, Rowe), 19:20
WHE Guenther, (24) (Moren, Cameron), 19:50
JHN Lascek, (12) (Wallace, Smolenak), 2:13 (PP)
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
Total third period implosion.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 19 shots before giving way to Jonathan Boutin who fared even worse allowing 2 goals on 5 shots. Justin Keller and Norm Milley had Springfield's goals with assists belonging to Marek Kvapil, Jay Rosehill and Daniel Corso. Unfortunately, after hanging around for the first 40 minutes of the game, Springfield self destructed and allowed 4 goals in the final frame. The Falcons also had an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead early in the game on a David Spina penalty shot, but Spina failed to score and a Bruins goal in the final minutes of the first evened the game up.
Positives: with Kyle Wanvig up in Tampa on recall, Kvapil was moved back up to the second line with Keller and Spina and the three responded. Kvapil had the assist and 2 shots on goal, Spina had 4 shots and Keller had a team high 5 shots on goal. Hopefully the youngsters can keep it up. Remember, a couple of years ago Paul Ranger and Evgeny Artyukhin really came on at the end of the year (especially Ranger in the last dozen games) and it catapulted them into the NHL early the next year. Even though Springfield's playoff chances are slim and none, these young players still have a lot of developmental time left to capitalize on and once the college and junior team seasons start to end there will be an opportunity for the Lightning to identify some players to sign to ATO contracts with a view toward shaping next year's roster. There's still a lot to play for here.
SPR Keller, (10) (Kvapil, Rosehill), 2:10
PRO Rosa, (2) (Karsums, Lashoff), 19:21
PRO Trevelyan, (19) (Hoggan, Zinger), 6:16
PRO Trevelyan, (20) (Walter), 2:23
PRO Rosa, (3) (Talbot, Zinger), 7:07
SPR Milley, (19) (Corso), 7:30
PRO Karsums, (13) (Glenn, Lashoff), 14:32 (PP)
PRO Curry, (4) (Pelletier), 15:12 (PP)
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
The Lightning have acquired a 3rd round pick and defenseman Shane O'Brien from Anahiem for goaltender Gerald Coleman and a first round pick according to TSN.ca
Andreas Holmqvist scored a late goal and had 2 penalty minutes in Linkopings' 4-0 victory over Malmo today. The goal was Holmqvist's 6th of the season and his 26th point in 46 games to go along with 52 penalty minutes and a +2 rating. In 46 games last season, Holmqvist recorded 6 goals and 22 points with 64 penalty minutes and a +8 rating. Linkopings currently sits in 6th place on the Elitserien table at 1 game over .500. Last year, with former Lightning prospect Fredrik Norrena between the pipes, Linkopings finished third in the Elitserien at 14 games over .500.
Erie 1 @ Kitchener 2
The lowly Erie Otters went into Kitchener to face the Rangers - the team with the league's third-best point total at 82 - and nearly pulled off the upset thanks to Kevin Beech. Beech stopped 50 of 52 shots in the 2-1 loss, including 22 of 23 in the first period. The Otters held a brief 1-0 lead midway through the first period. The Otters were outshot 52-28. Beech was named the game's third star.
Ottawa 5 @ Mississauga 2
Chris Lawrence had a rare scoreless night, finishing minus-2 with a roughing minor as the IceDogs dropped a home game to Ottawa. Considering the 67's are more than 20 points behind Mississauga in the standings, this was a bad loss for the IceDogs. Mississauga is 5 points behind division leading Barrie with 2 games in hand, so these lost 2 points will hurt.
Prince George 5 @ Spokane 2
The Cougars got revenge for a loss to the Chiefs earlier this week as they scored three third period goals to beat Spokane 5-2 on the Chiefs' home ice. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and even for the game, and should probably check the curve on his stick as he had two minor penalties for delay-of-game.
Everett 4 @ Vancouver 3 (Shootout)
The Silvertips squeaked by the Giants 4-3 in a shootout in Vancouver Friday night. Dane Crowley did not register a point, but had an even rating and received 15 minutes in penalties for a first period fight against Florida Panthers first round pick Kendall McArthur. He was given a 10 minute misconduct on the play, but no instigator. It's good to see Crowley avoiding the rush and hating the Panthers early. The fight happened just three seconds into the game. Apparently Crowley got a few good shots in, but McArthur scored the takedown.
According to TSN.ca, Andre Roy was suspended for three games due to his run in with the official last night in the closing seconds of the Lightning's 6-2 loss to Boston. Kyle Wanvig was called up from Springfield to replace Roy on the Lightning roster.
#12 Maine 3 - Merrimack 0
Mike Lundin was scoreless and even in the game. The defensemen recorded 4 shots in the game.
#18 Massachuetts 2 - Northeastern 0
Defensemen John Wessbecker finished scoreless and even in the game.
#9 Miami 4 - Northern Michigan 1
Center Dusty Collins was scoreless and a minus-2 for the game. The Wildcats conclude their regular season tomorrow night against the Redhawks.