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NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-18-18 Lightning at Devils

This time the Lightning finish the job.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory, and that 1 goal was on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The sharpness is there and he made a big handful of situational saves. He's really rounded into form and feels on the verge of going on a patented Vasiy run.

First Period
8:23 NJ Palmieri (1), (Butcher, Hall)(PP)
11:30 TB Miller (1), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
15:02 TB Kucherov (3), (Coburn, Miller)

Second Period

Third Period
18:52 TB Kucherov (4), (Miller)(EN)

Vasilevskiy and J.T. Miller were the game's first and third stars. The spitefulness of the New Jersey media where Kucherov is concerned on full display there.

Despite a First Period hiccup to allow a 5-on-3 power play, the Lightning more or less learned the lessons of Game Three to put together the road win they needed to give them a chance to shorten this series. Tampa Bay managed the puck reasonably well throughout the game and played a simple possession game to outshoot New Jersey 37-28 in the contest. They did have some penalty troubles overall, but both teams were in the box too much and neither really gained a whole lot of advantage from it. My biggest takeaways: the penalty kill for the Lightning has looked a lot better in the postseason as have individual defenders like Brayden Coburn and the team put New Jersey on complete lockdown in the Third Period protecting the one goal lead. It was clinical. Bottom line the win proved what we should all know by now: New Jersey isn't winning without help from the Lightning in the form of stupid turnovers or penalties. They simply can't generate enough offense on their own at 5v5 to defeat the Lightning.

Now, one of the big deflection points in this game was the monstrous hit by Nikita Kucherov in the First Period that knocked Sami Vatanen out of the game. New Jersey going down to five defensemen almost assuredly contributed to their Third Period ineffectiveness as they were chasing the game down one. There's some thought that perhaps Kucherov could see a suspension for the hit. I didn't think he hit him in the head and it'd be a miscarriage of justice. I get you want to legislate head hunting out of the game, but that's not what Kucherov did on that play. Still, I could see the NHL putting their filthy fingers on the scales knowing Vatanen is the one real top flight puck moving defenseman the Devils have and his absence crushes their effectiveness as a team at both 5v5 and on the PP.

Either way the Lightning have a pretty glorious opportunity on Saturday to conclude this series in five games and conserve energy by ending this series early. The playoffs are a marathon and you want gas in the tank at the end. This team understands that lesson well and I expect them to bear down to finish the job and get this series out of the way efficiently.

Anthony Cirelli had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 16:05, but he was also just 29% on 17 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-17-18

Ontario Hockey League

#4 Owen Sound Attack 7 @ #1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 9 (Game 7)
Western Conference Semifinals
Soo win series 4-3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 3-1-4, +3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 1/2 FO, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 11-8-19, +9, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 1-3-4, +4, 4 PIM, 5 SOG, 5/8 FO
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 8-9-17, +3, 10 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Katchouk notched a hat trick and four points to lead the Soo in a wild 16-goal Game 7 victory, earning a berth in the Western Conference finals against the Kitchener Rangers. Katchouk capped off a five-goal 1st period with a short-handed marker with just 12-seconds left to give the Soo a 4-1 lead at the first intermission. He added an even strength goal in the 2nd to extend the Greyhound lead to 5-1, and the teams exchanged goals with the Soo taking a 6-2 lead into the second intermission. The Attack would mount a furious comeback, scoring five 3rd period goals, but Katchouk would score a power play marker that would eventually be the game winner to complete his hat trick. Raddysh would scratch out an empty netter late in the game to preserve the Soo victory, his only goal of the game. Raddysh would muster three assists on the night, for a four-point game of his own. Noah Carroll (CAR, 2016 6th round pick) would also score a pair of goals for the Greyhounds. Right-handed blueliner Sean Durzi (2018 draft eligible) starred for Owen Sound, scoring a pair of goals and ringing up a game-high five points.

The Soo and Rangers square off Friday and Saturday for Game 1 and 2 in Sault Ste. Marie. Katchouk is tied for 1st in OHL playoff goals and sits third in points.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-16-18

Western Hockey League

#2 Swift Current Broncos 6 @ #1 Moose Jaw Warriors 0 (Game 7)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Broncos win series 4-3

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Stuart Skinner (EDM, 2017 3rd round pick) turned away 25 Moose Jaw shots, pitching a Game 7 shutout. Former Blues prospect and now Flames free agent signee Glenn Gawdin scored twice and added two assists, as the Swift Current Broncos punched their ticket to the WHL Eastern Conference finals against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Broncos had their backs against the wall after Game 5, down 3-2 in the series, and then preceded to outscore the potent Warriors offense 13-1 in elimination games 6 and 7. Devils free agent signee Colby Sissons, Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick), an Aleksi Heponiemi (FLA, 2017 2nd round pick) all had multi-point games.

For Bolt prospect Oleg Sosunov, he could join the Syracuse Crunch for their Calder Cup Playoff run, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization allows him to close out his season. After scoring 7 goals and 26 points in a breakout campaign in his first year in North America, Sosunov hit a wall down the stretch statistically for the Warriors. He was never scratched, even on a loaded Moose Jaw blueline, but the offense dried up in the last 15-20 games of the regular season and the playoffs. There’s certainly something to be said for never having too much depth for the Syracuse playoff run, but one gets the sense that Sosunov kind of ran out of the gas. Unlike the watch on Otto Sompii, Sosunov does already have an NHL contract with the Lightning.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-16-18 Lightning at Devils

Lightning miss an opportunity to put the Devils firmly behind the eight ball.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 39 shots for the loss. Despite the outcome, I thought he played pretty well. He's rounding into form nicely in this series, in my opinion.

First Period

Second Period
0:42 TB Killorn (4), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)
12:24 NJ Hall (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
0:38 TB Stamkos (1), (Kucherov, Killorn)(PP)
4:03 NJ Butcher (1), (Hall, Palmieri)(PP)
12:55 NJ Noesen (1), (Hall, Greene)
19:02 NJ Coleman (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:22 NJ Lovejoy (1), (unassisted)(EN)

The Lightning played this game right along the lines of the blueprint they needed to all the way up until 2:39 into the Third Period when Cedric Paquette took a stupid slewfooting call that was promptly followed up by a too many men call on the PK. They threw New Jersey a lifeline with a 5-on-3 goal and the rest is history. This isn't complex: if the Lightning stay disciplined and manage the puck well New Jersey can't beat them. When you gift goals on weak clears (the first goal), take stupid penalties (the second goal), or fail to sort out coverage assignments despite having a numerical advantage defending the rush (the third goal), that's how you throw the Devils a lifeline and give them an upset opportunity.

With all that said, I think the Lightning controlled the balance of this game and are still perfectly capable of picking off Game Four to get the split they wanted out of this trip north before heading home for Game Five. They just have to stick to the formula and not get too preoccupied with New Jersey's fake tough guy shenanigans they tried to pull at the end of this game. The Lightning need to ignore that and stick to playing measured, cerebral hockey.

Speaking of which: perhaps someone at the league office can explain to me how Blake Coleman was allowed to act like he had a concussion late in the Third Period to draw a call on Mikhail Sergachev and yet didn't have to go to the quiet room. Can anyone explain that to me? Didn't miss a shift. So, either the New Jersey medical staff allowed a concussed player back on the rink immediately or he deserves an Academy Award for that acting performance. You make the call, folks. I found the whole affair to be pretty revealing of Coleman's character and the Devils organization's character, frankly.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:48. He was also 38% on 13 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-15-18

Ontario Hockey League

#1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 1 @ #4 Owen Sound Attack 7 (Game 6)
Western Conference Semifinals
Series tied at 3-3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 0/1 FO
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 8-7-15, +6, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 1/3 FO
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 7-6-13, -1, 6 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Katchouk and Raddysh set up top prospect Barrett Hayton (2018 draft eligible) for the game-opening goal at 14:41 of the 1st period, but the Attack responded 38 seconds later to knot the score 1-1 at the end of the 1st period, with the Soo also holding an 11-8 advantage on shots. But Owen Sound turned on the afterburners in front of 3000+ fans at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, peppering Soo netminders Matthew Villalta (LAK, 2017 3rd round pick) and Tyler Johnson (undrafted) with 38 shots in the 2nd and 3rd periods. In all, seven different Attack skaters scored, and five notched multi-point games. Owen Sound was facing elimination, down 3-2, and their win forces a Game 7 Tuesday night back in Sault Ste. Marie.

The winner of Tuesday night’s Game 7 will face off against the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL Western Conference finals, who eliminated the Sarnia Sting in six games. The Eastern Conference finals is set with the Hamilton Bulldogs squaring off against the Kingston Frontenacs.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-14-18

Western Hockey League

#1 Moose Jaw Warriors 3 @ #2 Swift Current Broncos 2 (3OT) (Game 6)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Series tied at 3-3

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Sharks free agent signee Jayden Halbgewachs scored a triple-overtime power play goal at the 101:14 mark to stave off a Warriors elimination and force a Game 7 Monday night back at the Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. It was an epic goaltenders dual as Moose Jaw netminder Brody Willms (undrafted) turned aside 58 shots and Swift Current goalie Stuart Skinner (EDM, 2017 3rd round pick) turned away 35.

After a scoreless first period, Former Jets prospect Matteo Gennaro scored a power play goal in the 2nd period, followed by a goal from Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick) early in the 3rd to give Swift Current a 2-0 edge. But then former Lightning and now Rangers prospect Brett Howden put the team on his back, first setting up top prospect Jett Woo (2018 draft eligible) for his 2nd goal of the playoffs, and then scoring the equalizer himself to force the extra sessions.

The winner of Monday night’s Game 7 will draw the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, who eliminated the Brandon Wheat Kings four games to one.

Juniors Game Night: 4-14-18

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserved on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament.

The Dubuque Fighting Saints finished as the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference, but it’s unknown if Guttman will return from injury for the Clark Cup playoffs.

Sioux City Musketeers 2 @ Omaha Lancers 3 (SO)

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 56 GP, 4-25-29, +19, 38 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

F Sammy Walker, SC: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals (USHL): 17 GP, 2-7-9, -6, 4 PIM
’16-’17 Totals (USHL): 4 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 6 PIM
Season Totals (HS): 31 GP, 35-44-79, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 22-24-46, 6 PIM
Committed to: University of Minnesota

With playoff berths and #1 seeds on the line, Sioux City and Omaha closed out their 2017-18 USHL regular season campaign Saturday night. The Musketeers needed two points and a couple other teams to lose in order to sneak into the playoffs, and Lancers were in a battle with Waterloo for the #1 seed in the Western Conference.

The Lancers lit the lamp first, just 1:49 into the game, in front of 3700+ home fans at the Ralston Arena. But Luke Johnson (Providence commit) would set up a pair of Sioux City goals later in the 1st period, including a power play goal with one second left in the first, giving the Musketeers a 2-1 lead at the end of the first frame. Johnson was a former captain of Edina high school and teammate of Sammy Walker. Omaha would bury a power play marker of their own in the 2nd period to knot the score, and after a scoreless 3rd period and overtime session, the post season hopes of both teams would be decided by a skills competition. Both goalies turned aside the first 5 rounds of shooters before a pair of Miami (Ohio) commits squared off, with Ryan Savage (2018 draft eligible) finally solving Musketeer goalie Ben Kraws (2018 draft eligible) for the Lancer win.

One point for the shootout loss was not enough for Sioux City to clinch a playoff berth no matter the outcome of the other teams, and that mean that the 2017-18 hockey campaign for Bolt prospect Sammy Walker is for all intents an purposes over. It was a great season for Walker, the recipient of the prestigious Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award as the best high senior hockey player in the state. His helped lead his Edina, MN high school team to a 3rd place finish in the MN Class AA State championships, and his two goals and nine points for the Musketeers in 13 games after his high school season ended was a preview of what might be in store when he dons the Maroon and Gold for the Minnesota Golden Gophers this Fall.

For Omaha, the shootout win was not enough to clinch the top spot in the Western Conference, with Waterloo also winning their game Saturday night. Bolt prospect Nick Perbix and the Lancers will enter the Clark Cup playoffs as the #2 seed in the West.

AHL Game Night: 4-14-18 Americans at Crunch

Skeleton crew Crunch lose regular season finale.


Olivier Mantha allowed 3 goals on 42 shots for the loss. Olivier Who? Exactly.

First Period
11:13 SYR Volkov (22), (Archambault, Verhaeghe)(PP)
13:01 RCH Bailey (10), (Smith, Griffith)(PP)
18:56 RCH Nylander (8), (unassisted)

Second Period
3:22 RCH Ross (7), (Fasching, Guhle)
5:55 SYR Volkov (23), (Spencer, Archambault)

Third Period
18:36 RCH Malone (12), (unassisted)(EN)

Alexander Volkov and Olivier Archambault were the game's second and third stars.

Syracuse iced a roster filled with PTO's and recalls from Adirondack. These two teams will meet again now in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a very different Crunch team next time around.

Box score from

Crunch Look Forward to Playoffs After Dropping Season Finale

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Although the teams will meet in the playoffs, the Syracuse game against Rochester Saturday wasn’t much of a preview.

Looking to rest many of their regulars since they already clinched home ice in the first round, the Crunch had a lineup with 11 players who spent time in the ECHL this season and two more who joined the team after the conclusion of their junior seasons.

Alexander Volkov scored twice and Olivier Mantha made 39 saves in his AHL debut, but Syracuse fell to Rochester, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The North Division Semifinal between the Crunch and Americans starts in Syracuse Friday.

“We’ll see what kind of team we’re going to have next week,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “For me, I expect our team to be ready to play next Friday.”

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-14-18 Devils at Lightning

Vasilevskiy carries injury fatigued Lightning to the pay window.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 44 shots for the victory. He made a fleet of big situational saves in the Third Period with a tired Lightning team having to play down a forward and a defenseman with Callahan and Girardi in the locker room.

First Period
12:15 TB Point (1), (Palat, McDonagh)
13:38 NJ Hiscier (1), (unassisted)

Second Period
3:14 TB Killorn (2), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)
4:36 TB Johnson (2), (McDonagh, Point)
6:01 TB Kucherov (2), (unassisted)
13:12 TB Killorn (3), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
19:34 NJ Vatanen (1), (Greene, Schneider)

Third Period
11:57 NJ Coleman (1), (Zajac, Moore)

Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars. Vasilevskiy got hosed by the media.

This was a tale of two games. The Lightning once again completely outclassed New Jersey with their depth and poise through the first 45 minutes of this contest en route to building a massive 5-1 lead. They managed the puck well, only conceding on a clean faceoff loss in their own zone that led to a bad clear off a rebound. I especially liked the second power play goal by Killorn to land the kill shot on New Jersey when the opportunity came to put the game effectively out of reach. What I did not like was how the team played to close out the Second Period thereafter as they lost focus and started turning over pucks and not closing out plays. Bad habit creep in during garbage time and that was starting to happen when things went from bad to worse with Callahan and Girardi going out of the game. Callahan looked to me to either have an issue with his ribs or his shoulder and I didn't see what happened to Girardi. The Lightning came out for the Third Period looking pretty good protecting the three goal lead but looked absolutely dragging tired the last ten minutes of the contest when Vasilevskiy had to sparkle to get it over the finish line.

Now the series shifts to New Jersey and there's still a lot of series left to go here, I think. We'll wait to see the fate of Callahan and Girardi. Girardi's injury could be particularly costly if it draws in Andrej Sustr for what appears on paper to be a terrible matchup against the quick Devils on the road where they have last change. The Lightning have done what they needed to do at home holding serve for the 2-0 lead, but the old wise men will tell you it's not a series until someone wins a road game. The Lightning need to lick their wounds and then play a sober, professional road style in hopes of stealing at least one in Newark to give themselves a shot to eventually close this series out early and prevent further attrition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 15:22. He was also 70% on 10 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from

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