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NHL Game Night: 11-5-15 Lightning at Sabres

Lightning crush Sabres against the run of play.


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. I still don't think he's 100% up to NHL speed following the puck, but there were a couple of times in this game you could see his quickness and technical proficiency with his angles really got into Buffalo's shooters' heads. They were cutting it fine because they felt they had to against the big Russian mountain.

First Period
5:55 TB Stamkos (7), (Filppula, Palat)
11:35 TB Johnson (2), (Killorn, Kucherov)
18:20 TB Kucherov (5), (Namestnikov, Coburn)

Second Period
4:21 BUF Eichel (5), (Weber, Ennis)

Third Period
19:30 TB Hedman (1), (Sustr)(SH)

Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and second stars.

Hockey's a funny sport. The Lightning played a much better game against Detroit last time out and couldn't find the payoff for the chances they manufactured with their hard work. Tonight, I felt they got outworked and they definitely got outchanced and outshot, on balance, by Buffalo. The Sabres had their forecheck really working on the Lightning in the first 40 minutes, but when the Lightning were able to break that pressure and come out of their zone, they were able to catch Buffalo on 3-on-2's on the counter. The skill players did the rest to build the 3-0 lead. They probably didn't deserve to have that big of a margin, but considering how snake bitten they've been offensively, I'm not going to complain about it. They were definitely guilty of playing down to their opponent and even more guilty of taking their foot off the gas once they got up 3-0. But, to their credit, they really tightened up defensively in the Third Period to quell the Buffalo uprising and deliver the W.

With the win, the Lightning have 6 points through 6 games of this 10 game segment of the season. A win against Minnesota would be tremendous if they can get it next time out.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 15:40. The stat line looks OK, but I think the tape will reveal Nesterov didn't cloak himself in glory tonight. He looked like the physically overmatched young blueliner that struggled in his rookie pro season of North American hockey tonight, taking some big hits and getting overwhelmed physically, rather than the offensive juggernaut he was in his sophomore pro campaign. Not his finest hour.

Box score and extended statistics from

Karjala Tournament Game Day: 11-5-15

Finland 2 vs. Russia 1
Nikita Gusev, Russia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 0 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%

Ex-Blackhawks pick Petri Kontiola had a Third Period PP goal that broke a 1-1 tie and lifted Finland to a 2-1 victory over Russia in their opening match of the Karjala Tournament. Ex-NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk had Russia's lone goal. Lightning prospect Nikita Gusev lined up at 4th line left wing for Russia and Vasily Koshechkin served as the club's backup netminder.

Juniors Game Night: 11-4-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Sherbrooke Phoenix 2 (OT)

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 2 Hits
Season totals: 14 GP, 3-4-7, -2, 23 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 15 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 15 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

The Sea Dogs rode into Sherbrooke and beat the Phoenix, 3-2, in overtime. Lightning prospect Mathieu Joseph was named a late addition to Team QMJHL for the upcoming CHL Canada-Russia series.

Acadie-Bathurst Titan 4 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 6

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 14 GP, 16-12-28, +7, 19 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan has at least a goal in 10 of his 14 games so far this season. He is currently riding an 11-game point streak.

Western Hockey League

Victoria Royals 5 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 2

C Brayden Point, MJ: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 14 GP, 12-20-32, +9, 4 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

The Royals outshot Moose Jaw, 31-19, en route to a big road win in Saskatchewan. Point, who was just named the WHL Player of the Month for September-October, is on a 4-game point streak, his third such streak of the season. Point does not have a game so far this year where he has only recorded one point; he has two no-point games, seven 2-point games, two 3-point games, and three 4-point games. The Lightning already have him under contract for next year when he turns pro.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 41

This week's “Mike Smith Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The No. 41
· Internal, slump-busting changes ahead for Lightning?
· No changes? What are we protecting?
· 4 TB players elevating their games, but 1 stands out and he’s on the verge of stardom
· Interview with Syracuse’s Joel Vermin

Vermin Making Strides With Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Joel Vermin has continued to evolve as a player.

In his second full season in North America, the Syracuse Crunch forward is finding a way to harness his speed and skill, as well as making a habit of going to the hard areas of the ice. The 23-year-old has registered one goal and three assists in the first eight games with Syracuse this season, and is steadily improving many facets of his game.

“I feel really comfortable, I feel really good on the ice,” Vermin said. “I think I’ve made a big step forward from last year. I hope it keeps going like that.”

NHL Game Night: 11-3-15 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning falling squarely behind the 8-ball.


Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the loss. Typically I'd defend a guy who only allowed 2 goals and didn't get the benefit of goal support, but Detroit's first goal was semi-soft and the game winner was all-the-way-soft. Fact of the matter is, if those keep happening, Vasilevskiy's going to start taking more than his fair share of starts.

First Period

Second Period
2:02 DET Sheahan (2), (Tatar, Kindl)
15:58 TB Kucherov (4), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
5:54 DET Larkin (4), (Abdelkader, DeKeyser)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star, and frankly he was the best player on the ice for either team by a considerable margin. He went to a new, more beastly level tonight.

It's a tale of three games. I thought the Lightning played a fairly good road period in the First Period, preventing any early surge by the home side and holding the balance of possession, although the resulting chances were few. The Second Period could've been an outright disaster, because the Lightning were getting slaughtered at the 10 feet around each blueline. They lost 80-90% of 50/50 pucks on zone exits and zone entries in the Second Period, and you can imagine the possession pressure that resulted. They're really fortunate Detroit didn't get more chances and goals from that pressure and even more fortunate they lucked into a 5-on-3 goal to equalize heading into the Third Period. The Third Period was actually the Lightning's strongest period, hitting 2 crossbars and a goal post and generating a lot of quality opportunities. That was cancelled by good goaltending by Howard and a Dairy Queen special served up by Bishop on a bad angle shot in tight coming off a 3-on-2. That's the game right there. On balance, I feel a lot better about the offense after this one, believe it or not. I was more concerned when the chances weren't flowing. Even when scoring 4 goals against Carolina, the chances were coming off of unforced or gently forced Hurricanes errors rather than pure Lightning assertiveness. The spigot is starting to open again now, though, so I'd say it's a matter of time. Looking ahead on the schedule, I know Minnesota's been in some track meets this season and Buffalo is a generous young team. I wouldn't be shocked if one of them is the recipients of a flood gates situation that looks like the opening of the Panama Canal locks.

The really big issue right now is that heading into the backside of this 10-game segment of the season the Lightning are really behind schedule in the standings to stay on track for the playoffs. They'll need 8 of the possible 10 points over the next 5 games to stay on pace. You do not want to be trying to make those points up in March and April when the sledding is the hardest. My biggest early season fear was a Stanley Cup Final hangover in the first two segments of the season, and that scenario may be playing out unless the Lightning can really put it together quickly and come out guns blazing these next 5 games.

Box score and extended statistics from

Juniors Game Night: 11-1-15

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Oshawa Generals 6

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-2-2, -1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
Season totals: 17 GP, 5-10-15, -4, 7 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Cirelli now has a four-game point streak after two assists Sunday. The Gens alternate captain was named first star for his efforts.

Western Hockey League

Brandon Wheat Kings 3 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 2

C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 13 GP, 12-18-30, +8, 4 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Brandon sent Moose Jaw to its second straight loss. Point continues to plug along at a two-point-per-game pace.

Tri-City Americans 4 @ Vancouver Giants 1

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 16 GP, 0-5-5, -13, 10 PIM
With Vancouver: 3 GP, 0-2-2, -3, 2 PIM
With Calgary: 13 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 8 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas’ three-game point streak came to an end with a scoreless Sunday. He had points in both of his first two Vancouver games after coming over from Calgary.

ECHL Game Night: 11-01-15

Florida Everblades 7 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 0

F Brian Hart, GRN: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 6 GP, 3-0-3, E, 0 PIM, 15 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, GRN, Loss, stopped 14 of 18 shots; pulled in 2nd period
Season totals: 3 GP, 0-3-0-0, 4.97 GAA, 0.868 SV%, 0 SO

D Charlie Dodero, GRN: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, -5, 12 PIM, 4 SOG

Not much good to say about the Swamp Rabbits tilt Sunday afternoon against the Florida Everblades. Allen York got the start but was pulled in the 2nd period after allowing 4 goals on 18 shots. York is still looking for his first win of the season and he's sporting almost 5 goals against in his 3 games thus far. For Syracuse Crunch fans and Lightning prospect followers, the Everblade trio of Mike Aviani, Kevin Lynch, and Gabriel Desjardins all contributed to the Greenville shellacking. Lightning camper Mike Aviani scored the first two goals of the game as part of a 4-point effort. Lynch also scored and added an assist as well, while Desjardins also added an assist. Greenville dropped all three games of their weekend home stand, falling to the cellar in the South Division at 3-4-0-0. The Swamp Rabbits hit the road next weekend for a Friday night game against Norfolk, followed by Saturday and Sunday games in Reading.

NHL Game Night: 11-1-15 Lightning at Hurricanes

Young Carolina defense proves the elixir for the Lightning's offensive woes.


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the victory in his season debut with the Lightning. He wasn't as sharp as he can be, particularly with the trapper. I think he spent the bulk of the game getting up to speed with the NHL level again. But he's so big, so athletic, and so technically sound. There's just not a lot of holes there and you feel like you have a big Russian mountain in net behind the team times. It's a great luxury for the Lightning to know they probably have two of the best goaltenders in the game on their roster, and they're both still young and hungry.

First Period
15:07 CAR E. Staal (4), (Versteeg, Rask)(PP)

Second Period
0:38 TB Callahan (4), (Palat)
18:54 TB Stamkos (6), (Kucherov, Stralman)(PP)

Third Period
4:07 TB Brown (2), (Filppula)
9:16 TB Johnson (1), (Kucherov, Hedman)
15:25 CAR Versteeg (2), (Rask)
19:59 CAR J. Staal (1), (Rask)

Carolina's young defense is a traveling PSA for the dangers of NHL GM's rushing their blueliners to the NHL. They've got some talented young players on the depth chart at that position, but mercy are they generous with the turnovers. Noah Hanifin, holy cow, he was a dumpster fire tonight, and the generosity of that D corps as a whole showed was just what the Lightning needed to get out of their offensive funk. That, and the decision by Jon Cooper to flip Killorn and Palat from the Stamkos and Johnson lines, respectively, and the dividends that payed in the form of a couple of even strength goals. The lines are going to be up in the air so long as Paquette and Drouin remain injured, so whatever shuffling needs to happen in the near term to manufacture goals, I'm all for it. Tampa Bay eventually built a three goal lead in the Third Period and I'm not terribly concerned about the couple of garbage time goals Carolina got to try to make it look respectable.

Box score and extended statistics from

ECHL Game Night: 10-31-15

Evansville IceMen 3 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 2

F Brian Hart, GRN: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 3-0-3, +2, 0 PIM, 14 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, GRN, DNP
Season totals: 2 GP, 0-2-0-0, 4.04 GAA, 0.890 SV%, 0 SO

D Charlie Dodero, GRN: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, -3, 12 PIM, 4 SOG

Brian Hart opened the scoring Halloween night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, his second goal in as many nights and third of his last four games. Hart once again scored from his greasy office on the goalies front porch. All three of Hart's goals this season have come in and around the blue paint. After building a 2-0 lead in the 1st period, the Swamp Rabbits would surrender three third period goals to the IceMen in a heartbreaker loss in front of their home crowd. Greenville threw 44 shots at Evansville netminder Scott Greenham, but Ottawa native shut the door after the first period to give his team a chance to rally. In net for the Swamp Rabbits was Adam Morrison, who was signed on October 23rd when Allen York was recalled to Syracuse following the recall of Kristers Gudlevskis to Tampa. Now with Kevin Poulin and Gudlevskis bot in Syracuse, it remains to be seen if Greenville might soon have Tampa prospect goalie Adam Wilcox supplant Morrison as York's partner in the crease. Greenville concludes their three game weekend homestand Sunday afternoon against the Florida Everblades.

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