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NHL Game Night: 4-6-18 Sabres at Lightning

Lightning move onto the cusp of clinching a division title... barely.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 32 shots for the win. Somehow.

First Period
0:30 TB Cirelli (4), (Gourde)
2:57 BUF Mittelstadt (1), (Scandella, Rodrigues)(PP)
4:35 TB Kucherov (39), (unassisted)
6:32 BUF Nylander (1), (Guhle, Ristolainen)
9:40 TB Gourde (25), (Killorn)

Second Period
1:04 TB Girardi (6), (Kucherov, Palat)
8:59 BUF Pominville (15), (Guhle, Rodrigues)
15:58 BUF Nolan (4), (Larsson)
18:45 BUF Okposo (15), (Eichel, O'Reilly)(PP)

Third Period
6:15 TB Cirelli (5), (Killorn, Sergachev)
7:02 TB Point (32), (Killorn, Gourde)
18:34 TB Hedman (17), (Vasilevskiy)(EN)

Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde, and Anthony Cirelli were the game's three stars.

With Boston failing to keep pace in their tilt last night the Lightning came into this game just needing a regulation or OT win in each of their last two games in order to clinch the Atlantic Division and force Boston into a first round matchup against a Toronto team the Bruins have struggled mightily against in the regular season. Strategically, this was a must-win game and the Lightning seemed to bring the intensity necessary for the task... right up until they got a 4-2 lead. Then they let their foot off the gas and soon found themselves chasing the game down 5-4 heading into the Third Period. That the Lightning found a way to pull this one out is fantastic, but the unevenness of their intensity level is troubling (along with their awful penalty kill) and may be potentially costly if the energy they had to expend tonight costs them in their contest with Carolina in the regular season finale tomorrow.

Cirelli had 2 goals and was +4 with 3 shots in 13:33. He was also 63% on 16 draws including winning the draw against arguably the league's finest, Ryan O'Reilly, en route to manufacturing the critical goal that tied the game at 5-5. With Stamkos out hurt Cirelli's had to step up and you could make an argument he was Tampa Bay's best forward tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-6-18

Friday night's results...

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#14 Moncton Wildcats 1 @ #1 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 6 (Game 1)
Quarterfinals
Armada leads series 1-0

C Alex Barré-Boulet , BLB: 2-0-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 7/15 FO, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 4-2-6, +7, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 53-66-116, +28, 67 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Barre-Boulet retuned to the Armada and claimed First Star honors, scoring twice including a power play marker and the game-winner. The outmatched Wildcats scored first, but the Armada reeled off six straight. Game #2 of the series is scheduled for Sunday

#9 Charlottetown Islanders 4 @ #4 Halifax Mooseheads 3 (OT) (Game 1)
Quarterfinals
Islanders leads series 1-0

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: Injury Scratch
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 59 GP, 28-55-83, +39, 28 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM

Somppi remained out of the Halifax lineup as the Islanders rallied to take Game 1 on the road in overtime. After the Mooseheads took a 1-0 lead, Charlottetown scored twice to open a 2-1 that evaporated to two Halifax goals to re-take the lead at 3-2. Keith Getson (2018 draft eligible) scored the equalizer for the Islanders, his second of the game, to force overtime, and then Pascal Aquin (undrafted) netted the OT game-winner. Both teams fired 40+ shots. These two team are back at it Saturday for Game #2.

Ontario Hockey League

#4 Owen Sound Attack 4 @ #1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5 (OT) (Game 2)
Western Conference Semifinals
Series tie at 1-1

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, +2, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1/2 FO
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 7-3-10, +5, 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: 1-1-2, +1, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 2/4 FO
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 5-3-8, E, 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

Raddysh scored a power play marker and added an assist as the Soo knotted the series with a Game 2 overtime win against the Attack. Recent Canadiens free agent signee Hayden Verbeek opened the scoring with a pair of 1st period goals. Owen Sound rallied with a pair of goals early in the 2nd period to knot the score before Raddysh’s power play goal reinstated the Greyhounds lead. The Attack equalized the score twice more in the 3rd period, ending with Golden Knight prospect Nick Suzuki tying the game once more with a power play goal with just 85 seconds left in regulation, but the Soo would prevail in overtime. Game #3 shifts back to Owen Sound on Monday night.

Western Hockey League

#2 Swift Current Broncos 3 @ #1 Moose Jaw Warriors 5 (Game 1)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Warriors lead series 1-0

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 8 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Moose Jaw lept out to a 3-0 lead that the Broncos could just never overcome, as the Warrior took Game #1 behind a pair of goals from recent Predator free agent signee Tanner Jeannot. The line of former Blues prospect and now Flames free agent signee Glenn Gawdin, Aleksi Heponiemi (FLA, 2017 2nd round pick), and Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick) scored in the 3rd to draw the Broncos within a goal, but Jeannot potted an empty with nine seconds left to preserve the Warrior victory. The series resumes Saturday night with Game #2 in Moose Jaw.

Juniors Game Night: 4-3-18

Somehow I missed this Sioux City game from Tuesday night...

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.

Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Waterloo Black Hawks 4 (Tuesday)

F Sammy Walker, SC: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals (USHL): 12 GP, 1-6-7, -4, 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

Walker was held pointless in Tuesday night’s road game in Waterloo, as the Black Hawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the last half of the match with three unanswered goals. Micah Miller, future teammate of Nick Perbix at St. Cloud State, scored twice for the Musketeers to help build that 3-1 lead, but Czech 17 year old Matej Blumel (Connecticut commit) paced Waterloo with a goal and two assists, including the primary on Waterloo local boy Hunter Lellig’s (uncommitted) game-winner midway through the 3rd period.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-3-18

Western Hockey League

#8 Prince Albert Raiders 4 @ #1 Moose Jaw Warriors 5 (Game 7)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Warriors win series 4-3

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Game 7 of this tightly fought series lived up to all expectations as both clubs held leads and both clubs rallied in this see-saw affair. The Raiders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the contest before Shark’s free agent signee Jayden Halbgewachs and Ryan Peckford (2018 draft eligible) scored within a span of 25 seconds to knot the score at 2-2. Senators free agent signee Parker Kelly responded with his second goal of the period to restore Prince Albert’s lead before the teams broke for the first intermission. Coyote’s free agent signee Brayden Burke and Kale Clague (LAK, 2016 2nd round pick) set up Justin Almeida (2018 draft eligible) for a pair of power play goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods to give Moose Jaw its first lead at 4-3. The Raiders received some heroics from tough guy blueliner Brayden Pachal (undrafted), who scored short-handed to knot the score at 4-4, but those heroics were short-lived as Clague and former Lightning prospect Brett Howden setup Burke for the game-winning power play marker just 30 seconds after Pachal’s shortie. Clague paced Moose Jaw with four assists, Burke tallied three points, and Almeida scored twice as the Warriors’ best players showed up to help clinch the series win.

Moose Jaw advances to Round 2, the WHL’s Eastern Conference semifinals, against a very tough Swift Current Broncos team that features former Blues prospect and now Flames free agent signee Glenn Gawdin, Aleksi Heponiemi (FLA, 2017 2nd round pick), and Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick). Along with Moose Jaw’s Halbgewachs, Burke, and Almeida, these are six of the WHL’s Top 10 regular season point leaders. Game 1 starts Friday night at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

Elsewhere in the CHL, the 2nd round brackets for all leagues are finally set. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the hopeful return to the lineup of Alex Barré-Boulet takes on the Moncton Wildcats in Game 1 on Friday. Likewise, the hopeful return of Otto Somppi to the Halifax lineup as the Mooseheads begin their series with the Charlottetown Islanders also on Friday night as the QMJHL quarterfinals get underway. In the OHL, the Western Conference semifinals get underway Thursday night with Lightning prospects Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh and Flyer 2017 1st rounder Morgan Frost lead the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in Game 1 against the Owen Sound Attack that features Vegas 2017 #13 overall pick Nick Suzuki.

NHL Game Night: 4-3-18 Bruins at Lightning

The payoff and the payback.

BOS-0
TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 33 shots he faced for the SO win and to release the kittens. That was early season Vasiy: made the early situational saves and allowed his team to build the big lead and then cruise to the finish line.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:01 TB Point (31), (Kucherov, Coburn)
10:59 TB Hedman (16), (Coburn, Callahan)
14:27 TB Kunitz (13), (Callahan, Girardi)

Third Period
2:34 TB Miller (23), (unassisted)

Vasilevskiy, Brayden Coburn, and Ryan Callahan were the game’s three stars.

You could see the Lightning coming along in the last week or two, but after losing 4 of 5 the team had reached a moment of truth tonight. A loss would’ve fueled a full-blown crisis of confidence heading into the postseason that, thankfully, we don’t have to worry about now. Even without Stamkos in the lineup the team turned in a gritty and swaggy performance that keeps their Atlantic Division title hopes alive with two more regular season tilts left on the schedule.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot and 2 hits and was 53% on 15 draws in 14:06. Played a smart, simple game stepping up to fill some of Stamkos’ vacated ice time.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-1-18

Western Hockey League

#1 Moose Jaw Warriors 4 @ #8 Prince Albert Raiders 5 (Game 6)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Series tied at 3-3

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

The series returned to the Art Hauser Centre and Prince Albert rallied and forced a game seven behind a pair of goals from Cole Fonstad (2018 draft eligible) and four-points from the captain Curtis Miske (undrafted). Brayden Burke and Jayden Halbgewachs led the Warriors to a 3-2 lead but Sean Montgomery (undrafted) scored just before the end of the 2nd to knot the score. After the Raiders scored a power play goal early in the 3rd, Brett Howden knotted the game with a power play goal of his own before Fonstad scored his second of the game, the game-winner and forces game seven Tuesday night back in Moose jaw.

NHL Game Night: 4-1-18 Predators at Lightning

Third Period collapse undermines Lightning effort.

NSH-4
TB-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss. It just wasn't good enough. The second goal allowed was an unlucky double deflection, so I won't fault him for that, but he didn't make the situational saves needed in the Third Period. It feels like Vasilevskiy hasn't been on top of his game for at least the last month or two and he's due. It's needed.

First Period
7:50 NSH Johansen (14), (Forsberg)

Second Period
2:46 NSH Forsberg (22), (Subban, Saros)(PP)
7:32 TB Palat (10), (Stralman)

Third Period
6:24 NSH Forsberg (23), (unassisted)
9:29 NSH Smith (23), (Ekholm, Subban)

Ondrej Palat was the game's third star.

At some point, if the Lightning are going to turn this around, they've got to get the payoff. As with the confrontation with Boston, I can honestly say that on balance the Lightning played well enough to win. Hell, through 40 minutes the Lightning were outshooting Nashville 24-13 even with Steven Stamkos leaving the game early with a presumed injury. Situational saves? Situational goals? Puck luck? The Lightning aren't getting any of those things, and they've got to get a result soon to payoff the increased focus and intensity they really seem to be putting into these games now.

All Dan Girardi needed on that third goal against was a matador's cape to make the scene complete. Horrible.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits and he was 50% on 12 draws in 13:54. He's been playing really well over the last week or two.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 3-31-18

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.

Omaha Lancers 3 @ Muskegon Lumberjacks 2

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 51 GP, 5-21-26, +14, 32 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Perbix broke a 1-1 tie just 35 seconds into the 2nd period with a power play goal, and then assisted on a goal by Mick Kohler in the 3rd to ice the game, earning Third Star honors.

Des Moines Buccaneers 1 @ Sioux City Musketeers 5

F Sammy Walker, SC: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals (USHL): 11 GP, 1-6-7, -3, 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

Sammy Walker notched his first career USHL goal as that line with Dylan Mills (Niagara commit) and Cole Koepke (Minnesota-Duluth commit) continues to produce for the Musketeers. Finnish University of Wisconsin commit Sampo Ranta (2018 draft eligible) scored twice and added an assist to pace Sioux City and former Wisconsin goalie Matt Jurusik (undrafted) stopped 30 shots. Walker’s goal earned him Third Star honors.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-31-18

Western Hockey League

#8 Prince Albert Raiders 5 @ #1 Moose Jaw Warriors 1 (Game 5)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Warriors lead series 3-2

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Back at the Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw for Game 5, and the Warriors poised to clinch on home ice. But the Raiders didn’t get the memo, as Prince Albert jumped out to a 3-0 lead and didn’t look back. Sean Montgomery (undrafted) scored twice to pace the Raiders. There is a quick turnaround for Game 6 back in Prince Albert on Easter Sunday evening.

AHL Game Night: 3-31-18 Checkers at Crunch

Checkers put abrupt end to Crunch win streak.

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SYR-1

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss.

First Period
7:56 CHA Carrick (9), (Poturalski, McKegg)

Second Period
13:08 CHA McKegg (12), (Poturalski, Saarela)

Third Period
1:39 CHA McKegg (13), (Saarela, Poturalski)
6:23 SYR Archambault (12), (Condra, Peca)(PP)
18:37 CHA Saarela (24), (unassisted)(EN)

Ingram was the game's third star despite being victimized for 2 goals and 1 assist by ex-Lightning legend Greg McKegg. The betrayal cuts deep.

The Crunch are now off until Friday, when I suspect the game will be a-Foote in Bingo against the Devils.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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