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AHL Game Night: 4-4-15 Crunch at Sound Tigers

Comeback bid comes close to paying off.

SYR-2
BRI-3

Allen York allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the loss. Again, paging Adam Wilcox?

First Period
BRI Mouillierat, (21) (Halmo, Collberg), 17:49

Second Period
BRI Pulock, (16) (Quine, Ness), 3:47 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Marchessault, (22) (Kunyk, Dotchin), 3:50
SYR Lynch, (2) (Peca, Dodero), 7:34
BRI Sundstrom, (7) (Pulock, Quine), 14:50 (PP)

One thing about the Crunch this year, when changes to the roster have come it's taken a few games for them to adjust. Once they do, though, it's lights out. So, I expect Syracuse to settle in here, soon, and especially when they get Koekkoek and Witkowski back from Tampa Bay. They could be frightening when that happens, especially if they get more good goaltending from Gudlevskis and possibly Wilcox.

Matthew Peca got his first pro point on a fantastic setup on what was, at the time, the tying goal at 2-2 for the Crunch.

Syracuse remains 4 points up on Hartford in the division with both teams having 6 games left on the regular season slate.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 4-4-15 Lightning at Panthers

Satisfying.

TB-4
FLA-0

Ben Bishop stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout win. That's some U of Maine Justice right there for the Panthers. I think he's been off a little mechanically the past couple of games, either due to being banged up or being fatigued, but he's a battler and he battled his way to getting the goose egg tonight.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
6:10 TB Stamkos (41), (Johnson, Nesterov)(PP)
11:19 TB Stamkos (42), (Callahan)

Third Period
1:03 TB Callahan (24), (Stamkos)
18:13 TB Johnson (27), (Drouin)

Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Bishop were the game's three stars.

There's so much good wrapped in this game, it's hard to make sure you hit all the high notes. From an in-game standpoint, the Lightning had 4 regular defensemen out of the lineup going against what should've been a desperate Panthers squad, and they managed to shut them out. Kudos to the young defensemen, and kudos to Coach Zettler and the staff in Syracuse. It's been fantastic to watch the sharp progress this season by Nesterov and the steady progress of the likes of Witkowski, Koekkoek, Blujus, and Dotchin. It's a really hard act following a guy who is arguably an all-time great AHL coach like Jon Cooper, but Zettler has shown some developmental mojo with these young defensemen and it makes you excited to see what he can accomplish working with a prospect like Anthony DeAngelo.

The Lightning also got a power play goal for the fourth straight game and Steven Stamkos snapped out of his funk with a vintage PP goal and a laser beam from the right wing faceoff dot. Stamkos needs to be Stamkos if the Lightning are going to do anything in the playoffs, and if he were to find his PP mojo, that alone could win the Lightning a playoff series or two they might not otherwise deserve.

From a standings standpoint, the Lightning clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs and tied Montreal in the standings with the Habs holding a game in hand. The Lightning have the ROW tiebreaker, so all the pressure is on Montreal right now. The Lightning get 4 days to rest and heal now while Montreal has to keep getting points if they want to maintain control of their own destiny in the division title pursuit. If they lose a game, the Lightning may be able to get Hedman, Sustr, and Killorn back on the ice for the final 2 games at home with the real prospect of earning a banner in the balance.

Oh, and the Lightning eliminate the Panthers from playoff contention. It's never a bad thing to kick dirt on their grave, is it?

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 16:19. This wasn't quite the same effort for Slater as against Ottawa, IMO, but it was still a solid performance for the rookie. If I was a Syracuse fan, I'd be very excited to see him in the playoffs because he's going to go back to the Crunch with a ton of confidence.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 15:34. Quiet is good.

Nikita Nesterov had a helper and was +2 with 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 21:18. There was a lot of gushing about Nesterov tonight and rightfully so. He ate big minutes and he changes the complexion of the Lightning power play with his shoot first mentality and ability to get pucks through and on net. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think he's essentially running Barberio out of town for next season. They're similar players, but Nesterov's ceiling seems so much higher and he's already shown himself to be just as good, if not better, in his own third.

Vladislav Namestnikov played 11:36. He had one memorable rush where he slithered into the Panthers zone, but it was a quiet night for Namestnikov with Tyler Johnson returning and pushing him down off the line with Palat and Kucherov. Tonight was Namestnikov's 41st game of the season, so he graduated from prospect status on the website. Congratulations, Baby Faced Killer.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Extraliga Playoff Game Day: 4-4-15

Semifinal Round
(1)Trinec 3 vs. (4)Sparta Praha 2 (SO)
Trinec Leads the Series 3-2
Jaroslav Janus, Sparta Praha, DNP
Playoff totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 5.71 GAA, .846 sv%
Regular season totals (CZE): 5 GP, 2-3-0, 0 SO, 4.56 GAA, .849 sv%
Regular season totals (KHL): 25 GP, 6-12-5, 2 SO, 3.01 GAA, .891 sv%

Ex-Preds 6th rounder Zbynek Irgl had the shootout winner to propel Trinec to a 3-2 Game Five win and a 3-2 series lead over Sparta Praha. Yes, the Czech's do shootouts in the playoffs. No, it's not a concept that Bolt Prospects can co-sign on. Jaroslav Janus again sat backup in the match for Sparta.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-3-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
First round

QMJHL-8 Sherbrooke Phoenix 0 @ QMJHL-9 Charlottetown Islanders 4
Charlottetown leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

C Cameron Darcy, SHR: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 10/24 FO, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 5 GP: 5-3-8, E, 6 PIM
With Sherbrooke: 37 GP, 20-25-45, -7, 34 PIM
With Cape Breton: 19 GP, 1-13-14, -6, 14 PIM
Season totals: 56 GP, 21-38-59, -12, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 65 GP, 35-47-82, +3, 51 PIM

Sherbrooke will head home down in the series 3-2 after a shutout loss Friday night. Daryl MacCallum (2015) stopped 43 shots for the win. Game 6 is Monday. MacCallum had an .859 save percentage in 22 regular season games, but is sporting a .962 in the playoffs.

QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 3 @ QMJHL-13 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 1
Quebec leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

W Adam Erne, QUE: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 12/13 FO, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 2-1-3, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM

The Remparts won a pivotal Game 5 to head back to Quebec City with a 3-2 lead in the series after being behind 1-0 and 2-1. Adam Erne led the Remparts in shots in Game 5 and was dominant in the faceoff circle. Game 6 is Monday.

Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

East-6 Kootenay Ice 5 @ East-3 Calgary Hitmen 4 (OT)
Calgary leads best-of-7 series, 3-2

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM

The Ice crawled back from a 4-2 deficit in the second period to force overtime, then eventually win Game 5 in Calgary, 5-4. Kootenay is now 2-1 in Calgary in the series. Game 6 is in Cranbrook on Saturday.

AHL Game Night: 4-3-15 Crunch at Wolf Pack

Epic Third Period collapse.

SYR-4
HFD-6

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 29 shots before giving way to Allen York who allowed 1 on 2 shots for the back door loss. Looooots of goaltender speculation on the Twitter box tonight. Paging Adam Wilcox.

First Period
SYR Vermin, (11) , 6:56
SYR Gourde, (27) (Mormina, Cote), 7:47

Second Period
HFD Haggerty, (14) , 6:50
SYR Martindale, (14) (Marchessault, Nightingale), 18:47

Third Period
HFD Hrivik, (10) (Haggerty, Kristo), 3:55 (PP)
SYR Martindale, (15) (Gourde), 4:14 (SH)
HFD Vaive, (13) (Bodie, Lindberg), 8:00 (PP)
HFD Bourque, (27) (Crabb, Allen), 9:54
HFD Hrivik, (11) (Hughes, R. Bourque), 15:44
HFD Mueller, (13) , 19:32 (EN/PP)

Ryan Martindale was the game's second star.

Matthew Peca was scoreless in his pro debut in the game.

Syracuse clinched a playoff spot despite the loss, due to Albany's shootout win over Springield.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-2-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
First round

QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 6 @ QMJHL-13 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5
Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2

W Adam Erne, QUE: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 2/6 FO, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 2-1-3, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM

It was close, but Quebec held off Cape Breton long enough to even its series with the Eagles, 2-2. The Remparts had six different goal scorers. Habs pick Zach Fucale got the start for Quebec over Callum Booth, but still allowed five goals. Game 5 is Friday night in Sydney.

Ontario Hockey League
Western Conference Quarterfinals

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5 @ West-8 Saginaw Spirit 2
Sault Ste. Marie wins best-of-7 series, 4-0

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-4-4, +2, 4 PIM, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 0-7-7, +6, 8 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

Break out the booms. Sault Ste. Marie completed a relatively smooth sweep of Saginaw with a 5-2 win Thursday. After going scoreless in Game 3, DeAngelo had four assists in Game 4 and was named first star.

Note: Dominik Masin (Peterborough) is out for the season due to injury.

NHL Game Night: 4-2-15 Lightning at Senators

Lightning nearly steal both points.

TB-1
OTT-2 (OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the OT loss. His rebound control wasn't all that great tonight, but he was sparkling on first shots, which was nearly good enough to complete the larceny.

First Period
5:03 OTT Stone (20), (Turris, MacArthur)
16:53 TB Drouin (4), (Stralman, Filppula)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:43 OTT Wiercioch (3), (Stone, Turris)

Bishop was the game's third star.

Most of the Lightning's injured players actually participated in the morning skate today, which signals to me that if tonight's game had been a priority some of them would have gone. As it was, it was clear that getting rest and getting healthy was deemed more important than still pursuing the division title. Fair enough, under the circumstances, and it reflected in a pretty flat First Period by the team. However, as the game wore on, I think the Lightning realized there were points to be stolen on the table and their intensity improved as the game went on. They got 1 point to keep pace with Montreal tonight, but couldn't thieve the 2nd. Still, it's more than I would've expected from the body language I saw in the First Period. They trail Montreal by 1 point with the Habs holding a game in hand and the Lightning having 3 games left on the slate. They would hold the ROW tiebreaker, which looms large if they can get some help and Montreal stubs their toe a couple of times in their last 4 games.

One other point of interest, pun intended, is the Lightning got their 12th point tonight in this 10 game segment. In other words, the Lightning hit 12 points in every 10 game segment of the season but 1, and the miss was an 11 point segment. They may not be consistent game to game, but their frighteningly consistent segment to segment, which is very good compared to last season when they had about 3 misses, as I recall, along the way. Maturation.

Slater Koekkoek had 3 shots, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 17:55. He was a stud tonight. He was active in all three zones and particularly in clearing out his front porch. You saw the total package of what Koekkoek can do and he nearly had an OT winner jumping into the play, to boot. Very impressive.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:19 to go with 2 PIMs. He didn't play a perfect game, but he played a good one. I think, in particular, when the game got chippy in the Second Period it got right into Luke's wheelhouse and he started to really come alive.

Nikita Nesterov was -2 with 4 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:38. The IT tells you the coaching staff appreciates what he's doing, but he's had some hard luck where his good two-way play hasn't paid off with pluses with the Lightning forwards struggling to pot goals.

Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 hit and was 55% on 11 draws in 9:50. IT was down tonight, and it was hard to tell if he got dinged or if it was a coach's decision. Vladdy is at 40 NHL games this season, which means his next appearance will mark his graduation from prospect status on the website.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Extraliga Playoff Game Day: 4-2-15

Semifinal Round
(4)Sparta Praha 2 vs. (1)Trinec 1 (OT)
Series Tied 2-2
Jaroslav Janus, Sparta Praha, DNP
Playoff totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 5.71 GAA, .846 sv%
Regular season totals (CZE): 5 GP, 2-3-0, 0 SO, 4.56 GAA, .849 sv%
Regular season totals (KHL): 25 GP, 6-12-5, 2 SO, 3.01 GAA, .891 sv%

Ex-Av Jaroslav Hlinka scored just 1:45 into OT to life Sparta Praha to a 2-1 Game Four victory and knot their Semifinals series with top seed Trinec at 2-2. Hlinka also had Sparta's regulation goal and ex-Leafs pick Karel Pilar had a pair of helpers in the win.

Yzerman Wins Wilcox Over

(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Adam Wilcox to a two-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced late Wednesday night. He also signed an ATO with the Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of the season.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-1-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
First round

QMJHL-8 Sherbrooke Phoenix 2 @ QMJHL-9 Charlottetown Islanders 1
Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2

C Cameron Darcy, SHR: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 10/22 FO, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 4 GP: 5-3-8, +3, 6 PIM
With Sherbrooke: 37 GP, 20-25-45, -7, 34 PIM
With Cape Breton: 19 GP, 1-13-14, -6, 14 PIM
Season totals: 56 GP, 21-38-59, -12, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 65 GP, 35-47-82, +3, 51 PIM

Sherbrooke took back home ice advantage from the Islanders, winning Game 4 on the road, 2-1. Game 5 is Friday in Charlottetown, then the final two games are back in Sherbrooke.

Western Hockey League
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

East-3 Calgary Hitmen 7 @ East-6 Kootenay Ice 2
Calgary leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM

The Hitmen made a big statement in Cranbrook, taking both Game 3 and 4 from the Ice while scoring 15 goals. Connor Rankin (undrafted) had a hat trick in Game 4 and overtime hero (Games 1, 3) Adam Tambellini (New York Rangers) had four points. Lightning prospect Ben Thomas didn’t figure in on the scoring for any of the 15 goals, though he had an assist in both games in Calgary. The series goes back to Calgary for Game 5 on Friday.

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