Crunch fail to protect two goal lead in critical divisional tilt.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 23 shots, stopped a PS in OT, but allowed 2 of 5 to convert in the Shootout for the loss.
5:06 SYR Lynch (5), (McGinn)
6:58 SYR Richard (13), (McGinn, Condra)
12:05 TOR Leipsic (15), (Moore, Findlay)(PP)
6:07 TOR Gauthier (3), (Sislo, Johnsson)
TOR- Griffith, Timashov
Two identical, frustrating results in a row against the Marlies have put the Crunch down 1 point to Toronto in the race for the North Division crown. They've got the big ROW tiebreaker advantage, so the Crunch will need to beat them clean to get the title.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Big Goal Gourde helps Lightning salvage a life-sustaining point.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. He was brilliant, really. Justified the faith of the franchise by acquitting himself well in a goaltending duel with Price that he nearly won.
14:24 MTL Danault (3), (Pacioretty)
11:38 TB Gourde (4), (Hedman, Drouin)
0:51 MTL Radulov (17), (Pacioretty, Danault)
Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.
This was a tough game for the Lightning. They looked gassed throughout a healthy portion of this one and it took a lot of character to dig deep in the Third Period and at least salvage the point. It's a shame that Kucherov couldn't quite finish his glorious OT chance, but the Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of and they've got 2 more critical points to chase tomorrow night when Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson possibly return to the lineup.
It's pretty simple math now. At the start of the season, we always talk about pursuing that magic 96 points to make the playoffs safely. Well, the Lightning must now win out to hit 96 points on the nose. They might have 1 more point worth of margin for error, but they likely can't afford a regulation loss the rest of the way. Right now Ottawa is looking like the most realistic target for the Lightning to run down and get into the dance, with Boston and Toronto refusing to fade. The Lightning are 5 points back of Ottawa with both teams having 5 more games left to play. They're also 4 points back of Boston with a game in hand and a head-to-head still on the docket, but the ROW tiebreaker heavily favors the Bruins.
Luke Witkowski had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 12:14.
Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes in 8:46.
Jake Dotchin had 2 shots and 4 hits in 17:50.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits in 9:19.
Yanni Gourde had the big goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:20. He was also 40% on 10 draws.
Adam Erne had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:44.
Joel Vermin was +1 with 1 shot in 10:32.
The Syracuse Crunch rallied in the second period, but their shootout struggles continued in a battle of the top teams in the North Division.
The Crunch got a pair of goals from unlikely sources to tie the score in the middle frame but couldn’t find the game-winner in the third period, overtime or shootout, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The Crunch have 80 points, one point behind the Marlies.
“I think they came out strong again,” Crunch captain Erik Condra said. “We pushed back and came back on a pretty good team and got a point out of it.”
Crunch lose a key divisional point in the Shootout.
Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 33 shots before conceding to 1 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the loss in the Shootout. McKenna is finally settling into Syracuse nicely, as he's now starting to regularly put in quality starts.
7:41 TOR Griffith (9), (O'Reilly, Rychel)(PP)
16:21 TOR Leipsic (14), (Moore)
12:16 SYR Thomas (3), (Condra, Masin)
15:20 SYR Racine (1), (unassisted)
Mike McKenna and Ben Thomas were the game's first and second stars. Thomas continues a very respectable rookie season where he's compiled 19 points in 64 games. It's not a staggering stat line, but for a guy who came into the club with some middling numbers (and that's being kind) out of junior, he's really set himself nicely as one to watch the next couple of seasons.
Toronto pulls 1 point ahead of Syracuse in the North Division by virtue of the extra point in the penalty shot session.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Even with Kucherov out ill, the Lightning keep their playoff hopes healthy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory.
4:22 DET Nielsen (15), (Helm)
18:58 TB Brown (3), (Dumont)
2:22 TB Sustr (3), (Palat)
12:46 DET DeKeyser (4) (Tatar, Zetterberg)
16:13 TB Killorn (18), (unassisted)(PP)
18:04 TB Drouin (21), (Hedman, Point)(PP)
6:03 TB Gourde (3), (Palat, Sustr)
8:18 DET Green (13), (Nielsen, Larkin)(PP)
With Nikita Kucherov out of the lineup sick, the Lightning cobbled an important victory out of duct tape, bailing wire, spit, and guile.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:28.
Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit. He was also 57% on 7 draws.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:22.
Gabriel Dumont had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 73% on 11 draws.
Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 22:44. He was also 25% on 8 draws. Yanni Gourde with 22:44 of ice time in a must-win game down the stretch of the regular season. We live in interesting times.
Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 10:12.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot in 9:16.
Roller coaster goes back up.
Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, making that 2 quality starts in his last 3 outings, by my count. Getting better.
7:06 BNG Akeson (19), (White, Nehring)(PP)
1:02 SYR Peca (11), (Taormina, Thomas)
2:22 SYR Kurtz (4), (Taormina)
15:31 SYR Bournival (7), (unassisted)
0:31 SYR Condra (13), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
10:07 SYR Lynch (4), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
19:17 SYR Hajek (1), (Richard)
Syracuse moves back into a tie with the Toronto Marlies at 79 points atop the North Division, with Toronto holding a 4 game lead in ROW for the tiebreaker.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Kalamazoo Wings 2 at Florida Everblades 6
F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 29 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 4 PIMs, 53 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG
F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 16 GP, 5-14-19, +10, 8 PIMs, 44 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play
Season Totals: 29 GP, 17-10-0-1, 2.89 GAA, 0.904 SV%, 1 SO
F Brendan O'Donnell, FLA, 1-2-3, +2, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG, *2nd Star*
Season Totals (ECHL): 56 GP, 37-34-71, +26, 35 PIMs, 221 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 6 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 0 PIMs, 0 SOG
F Dalton Smith, FLA, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIMS, 1 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 56 GP, 10-10-20, -4, 126 PIMs, 89 SOG
The K-Wings rolled into Estero Wednesday night for the first of three games against the former Lightning affiliate Florida Everblades, but quickly discovered there was no welcome mat out at the Germain Center for the visiting team. The Everblades peppered Joel Martin with 37 shots and 6 goals, en route to clinching the South Division title, guaranteeing home ice for Florida through the first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Former Bolt prospect Brendan O'Donnell, the ECHL's current goal scoring leader, scored the game's opening marker less than 2 minutes into the contest, and then added a couple more assists as he earned 2nd star honors on the night. For Cam Darcy, it was just his 2nd game in 16 for the K-Wings in which he did not register a point. Kalamazoo now sits 6 points back of Quad Cities for 3rd in the Central Division, with this road series against the Everblades continuing Friday and Saturday nights.
KHL Western Conference Final
(4)Yaroslavl 1 vs. (2)St. Petersburg 2
St. Petersburg Wins the Series 4-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 6-8-14, +2, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM
Ex-NHL'er Evgeny Dadonov had a pair of helpers to lead SKA to a 2-1 Game Four win over Yaroslavl to sweep the KHL Western Conference Final. Forward Nikita Gusev was scoreless in 13:48 in the match. They look likely to face the East's top seed Magnitogorsk, which currently holds a 3-0 series lead over Ak Bars Kazan.
Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 goals for the win. He was actually pulled toward the end of the opening frame for Petr Budaj, who stopped the 3 shots he faced, but Cooper re-inserted Vasilevskiy and eventually got the payoff in the form of two key breakaway saves including the save of the game denying Kane on a breakaway move that he scores on 99 out of 100 goaltenders on the planet. Not Vasilarceniy tonight, however.
1:23 CHI Panarin (25), (Kero)
9:29 TB Palat (16), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 CHI Kane (34), (Hjalmarsson, Keith)
13:41 CHI Jurco (1), (Schmaltz)
8:47 CHI Panik (21), (VanRiemsdyk, Schmaltz)
11:45 TB Drouin (19), (Killorn, Stralman)
12:47 TB Stralman (4), (McKegg, Palat)
16:24 TB Drouin (20), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)
My God. What did we just witness? Every once in a while something happens in sports that you think can't happen, but by shear force of will a player or a team makes it happen. When Richard Panik put the Lightning down 4-1 around the middle of the Second Period of this game, the Lightning season looked completely dead and over. It's not just that the Lightning had fallen behind an opponent by three goals with about half the game to make up the deficit, but it was against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was against a defensive corps we all watched strangle this Lightning team to death in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of years ago. There should have been no way they would surrender a 3 goal lead, and especially so to a Tampa Bay club that looked sloppy and disorganized for most of the first 30 minutes and couldn't get out of its own way.
I give a lot of credit to Jon Cooper and, more importantly, to the character of this team. They could've flat given up right there and I might not have blamed them. Instead, the team resolved to turn the remaining ~35 minutes of hockey in this game into a breathtaking demonstration of the brand of Lightning hockey we've rarely seen this season but know these players are capable. Speed? Yes. Skill? Yes. But, more importantly, a suffocating dedication to puck pursuit and denying the opposition time, space, and passing lanes. The Lightning started to crawl all over the Blackhawks like a troop of extremely pissed off fire ants in all three zones and eventually made the breaks they needed to get 2 points that looked impossible just an hour and a half or so ago. That forecheck tonight, in particular... my goodness. When they forecheck like that there's not a team on earth that can stand up to the pressure.
The Lightning move to just 1 point behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot, and they've got another game against Jack Edwards and The Spoked Satan left on the schedule. The dream of a Lightning playoff berth refuses to die.
Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. He had a hit on Hossa tonight that you rarely see do that much damage against a guy as sturdy on his skates as Hossa is.
Gregg McKegg had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:20. A comeback like this rarely comes without some secondary scoring help from the lower lines, and McKegg supplied the key play around the net that led to Stralman's goal.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 20:40.
Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:41.
Gourde, the man of the hour, had the OT GWG shooting forehand on a breakaway. He also had 1 shot in his 16:30 of ice time and was 27% on 15 draws.
Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19.
Joel Vermin was -1 with 2 hits in 11:15. Even without gaudy stat lines, I can't underscore enough how important the minutes and work Dumont, Erne, and Vermin put in tonight. They were active, tenacious, and they didn't let up on Chicago as the Lightning comeback continued to sweep over Chicago. You would think a team like Chicago's depth would be able to take advantage of some of these Lightning callups, and it was the other way around tonight. Guys like Erne were looking to take their lunch money.
KHL Western Conference Finals
(4) Yaroslavl 1 vs. (2)St. Petersburg 2 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 3-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 6-8-14, +3, 2 PIM
Regular season: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM
Nikita Gusev had an early Third Period power play marker to force OT as SKA came from behind to defeat Yaroslavl 2-1 in OT. Gusev played 18:08 in the match. Undrafted 22 year old forward Alexander Barabanov scored the OT winner for SKA that has now put them one win shy of the KHL Gagarin Cup Final. In the East, top seeded Magnitogorsk holds a 2-0 series lead on Ak Bars Kazan.