Lightning's season dies in the desert.
8:05 ARI Reider (9), (Vrbata, Ekman-Larsson)
10:19 ARI Vrbata (11), (Hanzal, Reider)
18:39 TB Paquette (4), (Dumont, Bournival)
14:56 ARI Stone (1), (Hanzal, Vrbata)(PP)
18:25 ARI Fischer (1), (McGinn, Burmistrov)
19:44 ARI Hanzal (10), (Vrbata, Reider)
9:45 TB Namestnikov (6), (Filppula, Palat)
14:18 TB Palat (10), (Johnson, Nesterov)(PP)
Tampa Bay outshot Arizona by a very significant 48-23 margin, but that only underlines what a mess the team's goaltending has been this season. Bishop allowed two of the softest goals you'll see in your life in the First Period to put his team down 2-0, and lookee there, the team lost the game 5-3. Soft goals, as they often are, turn out to be the margin of error. Unfortunately, the Lightning have had a soft goal or questionable goaltending gaffe in each game of the current road trip, which is horribly demoralizing to a team. When you have to work twice as hard as the other team for a goal because your goaltending is faulty, it robs your team of its spirit. It really does.
The calculus now is pretty much impossible to overcome, to the extent that I'm ready to write the team's eulogy. They'd have to play about .750 hockey the rest of the way to get back on playoff pace, and that seems impossible given all the challenges the team is facing. The goaltending has been disappointing all season long. The center play has been steadily devolving since Steven Stamkos and subsequently Brayden Point got injured earlier in the season. Key forwards like "The Triplets" have suddenly gone missing on the scoresheet over the past several weeks. And, the defense continues to struggle to compensate for the team's inability to consistently play its possession style game and against the counters they routinely face when that style goes off the rails.
The Lightning have an excellent core of their hockey team, in general, and a rebuild is certainly not warranted. But, a serious in-season evaluation and a retooling is definitely in order. Bottom line, this team probably has one goaltending move, two or three moves on the blueline, and three or four moves at forward to make. Not big moves, in all cases, but necessary moves. If done shrewdly, and if the Lightning can get a little more luck with injuries in 2018-2019, there's little to suggest this year won't just be a little bump in the road and not a sinkhole.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:06.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 4 hits in 11:47 in his NHL debut.
Gabriel Dumont had a helper and was +1 with 5 shots, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:53. He was also 71% on 7 draws. His game tonight was the continuation of a fantastic road trip by the line of Paquette/Dumont/Bournival, which along with the play of Jonathan Drouin has been the real bright spot of going out west.
Utica pulls away in the final 20 minutes.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss.
10:42 UTI Kunyk (6), (Nilsson, Pelletier)
10:58 UTI McEneny (4), (Bancks, Virtanen)
16:19 UTI Cassels (5), (Kunyk, Zalewski)
16:54 UTI Archibald (12), (Grenier, Valk)(EN)
Gunned down in cold blood by ex-Bolt Prospect Cody Kunyk. My my.
Syracuse managed just 20 shots on goal in the game. That simply won't get it done.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
After 50-plus scoreless minutes, the momentum swung firmly away from the Syracuse Crunch.
The Crunch allowed a pair of goals 16 seconds apart and the Comets tacked on two more goals before the final horn, as Syracuse was blanked by Utica, 4-0, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“I thought it was a hard fought battle for two periods — I should say 50 minutes — and then they scored that goal and that quick goal right after,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “It seemed to break our legs. That’s what it is. I thought we had chances earlier in the game. We had five shots from the slot, but we missed the net five times. (We) can’t score.”
Assat 5 vs. SaiPa 1
Saku Salminen, SaiPa, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 2-4-6, -7, 41 PIM
Saku Salminen was scoreless in 12:01 of ice time in SaiPa's 5-1 loss to Assat. He was also 38% on 8 draws. SaiPa remains a perilous 2 points out of the basement in the Liiga standings.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Chicoutimi Sagueneens 0 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 1
W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 42 GP, 27-11-38, +8, 64 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM
W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 4 Hits, *First Star*
Season Totals: 31 GP, 27-24-51, +26, 29 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM
Joseph tied the Sea Dogs’ club record for consecutive games with a point when he scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win. Joseph’s streak is at 22 games. (Sea Dogs photo)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar 7 @ Halifax Mooseheads 4
C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 8/20 FO, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 40 GP, 9-17-26, -10, 22 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM
Jordan Martel (undrafted) had two goals to lead the Drakkar to a big win in Halifax.
Shawinigan Cataractes 5 @ Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4
W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 41 GP, 30-25-55, +20, 42 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM
Yan hit 30 goals for the second straight year as Shawinigan edged the Armada, 5-4.
Ontario Hockey League
Erie Otters 8 @ Sarnia Sting 2
C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 6/15 FO
Season Totals: 30 GP, 13-24-37, +20, 8 PIM
With Erie: 5 GP, 0-4-4, +2, 0 PIM
With Oshawa: 26 GP, 13-21-34, +18, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 21-38-59, -15 27 PIM
W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-2-2, +1, 4 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 33 GP, 26-44-70, +42, 23 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 67 GP, 24-49-73, +19, 18 PIM
Raddysh hit 70 points for the season and Anthony Cirelli had an assist as Erie crushed Steven Stamkos’ former team, 8-2.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5 @ Flint Firebirds 4
W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season: 43 GP, 20-17-37, +4, 28 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 63 GP, 24-27-51, +7, 61 PIM
It was a quiet night for Katchouk on the scoresheet, but the Soo avenged a 5-4 shootout loss to Flint last game with a 5-4 win of their own in regulation.
Ottawa 67’s 2 @ London Knights 7
W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 12/21 FO, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 27 GP, 12-18-30, +18, 14 PIM
With London: 5 GP, 1-3-4, +5, 0 PIM
With Saginaw: 22 GP, 11-15-26, +13, 14 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 39 GP, 20-18-38, -3, 14 PIM
Stephens was moved back to center with the Knights and scored his first goal in a London uniform.
Western Hockey League
Brandon Wheat Kings 2 @ Saskatoon Blades 3 (SO)
D Libor Hajek, SAS: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 40 GP: 3-19-22, -3, 49 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 69 GP, 3-23-26, -19, 76 PIM
Hajek has seven points in eight games in 2017.
Moose Jaw Warriors 2 @ Prince George Cougars 1
C Brett Howden, MJ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 34 GP, 24-26-50, +5, 39 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 68 GP, 24-40-64, -7, 61 PIM
Howden has scored in eight of his last 10 games.
Portland Winterhawks 3 @ Kamloops Blazers 4
G Connor Ingram, KAM: Win, 33 saves on 36 shots, *First Star*
Season Totals: 26 GP, 16-9-1-0, 2.11 GAA, .935 sv%, 2 SO
2015-2016 Season: 61 GP, 34-15-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .922 sv%, 4 SO
Ingram made 33 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped all four shooters in the shootout to get a win.
Connecticut Huskies 4 @ No. 12 Vermont Catamounts 5
C Ross Colton, UVM: 0-4-4, E, +2 PIM, 2 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 24 GP, 9-13-22, +2, 20 PIM
Colton had a career-high four points in a game as the Catamounts beat UConn, 5-4. Blues pick Tage Thompson had two goals for the Huskies to give him 16 this year. Colton continues to get comfortable in the NCAAs and is on his way to being a prime impact player in Hockey East.
Providence Friars 4 @ No. 5 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 3
C Ryan Lohin, UML: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 24 GP, 4-10-14, +2, 6 PIM
UML saw a 2-0 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit, but they could only respond with one goal before losing, 4-3. UML has climbed to No. 5 in the nation.
Maine Black Bears 1 @ No. 3 Boston University Terriers 4
D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 19 GP, 0-4-4, +7, 16 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 26 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 26 PIM
Coyotes pick Clayton Keller scored his ninth of the season in BU’s win.
Miami Redhawks 3 @ No. 19 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 3
D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Did not play
Season Totals: 9 GP, 5-2-1, 3.18 GAA, .897 sv%, 0 SO
Oldham did not dress for Omaha’s 3-3 tie with Miami. The Mavs were up 2-0 at one point, then had to fight back to force a 3-3 tie.
No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers 4 @ Wisconsin Badgers 3 (OT)
D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, UMN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 20 GP, 2-3-5, +9, 27 PIM
Justin Kloos (undrafted) scored his 10th goal of the season in overtime to lift the Gophers over Wisconsin, 4-3, in Big 10 action.
*USCHO poll used for rankings
Out of sync Crunch drop squeaker to Senators.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.
2:40 BNG Krushelnyski (3), (Varone, Gagne)
8:08 SYR Morin (8), (Richard, Walcott)
17:35 BNG Varone (11), (Harpur)(SH)
10:31 BNG Varone (12), (unassisted)(SH)
17:07 SYR Gourde (14), (Conacher, Morin)
19:18 BNG McCormick (11), (Varone)(EN)
Jeremy Morin was the game's third star.
Syracuse actually outshot Binghamton 36-23 in the contest, but hockey is a frustrating sport when you have to work so much harder than your opponent to get goals. Put simply, if you allow two shorthanded goals in a game, you probably deserve to lose.
Syracuse remains in a tie with Albany atop the North Division after burning a game in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
For Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, it was a little bit of everything going wrong.
The Crunch struggled to finish on their offensive chances — including a pair of breakaways in the first period — and allowed two shorthanded goals from the Senators, as Syracuse fell to Binghamton, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
“I thought it was one of those nights. Nothing worked for us tonight,” Groulx said. “Our centermen got killed in the faceoff circle. Our power play didn’t do the job. Our defensemen tonight struggled to move the puck. We didn’t have much speed.”
Lukko 3 vs. SaiPa 2
Saku Salminen, SaiPa, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 2-4-6, -6, 41 PIM
Saku Salminen was scoreless in 10:03 of ice time in SaiPa's 3-2 loss to Lukko. Salminen was also 57% on 7 draws. Last place Lukko moved to within 2 points of SaiPa on the Liiga table with the victory.
Krylya Sovetov Jr. 1 vs. Yaroslavl Jr. 6
Oleg Sosunov, Yaroslavl Jr., DNP
Season totals: 28 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 52 PIM
Oleg Sosunov did not dress as Loko Jr. again easily disposed of Krylya Sovetov Jr., today by a score of 6-1.