A valiant comeback comes up short.
Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 38 shots in the loss. He held the team in once the Caps got to three and gave them a chance to get back even. No complaints from me.
06:49 WSH Ovechkin (52), (Backstrom, Laich)(PP)
11:17 WSH Backstrom (20), (Ovechkin, Green)(PP)
15:48 TB St. Louis (29), (Pettinger, Lashoff)
19:38 WSH Backstrom (21), (Green, Ovechkin)(PP)
19:06 TB Stamkos (19), (Malone, St. Louis)
02:59 TB Prospal (19), (St. Louis)
04:30 WSH Pothier (1), (Laich, Aucoin)
19:53 WSH Ovechkin (53), (Laich)(EN)
The Lightning's penalty kill has been absolutely attrocious in the second half of the season. I suppose it's a combination of losing their most mobile defensemen on the backline and losing Smitty. Still, one thing I'd like to see next season is Tocchet giving Stamkos some PK time. He skates so well, I think he'll quite a bit of pressure on the opposing point men.
Noah Welch was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:44. His ice time in a game where one of the other d-men went out injured speaks volumes about what the coaching staff thinks of him. I think that of him too.
Matt Smaby had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 8:01. He left the game after suffering a "lower body injury." The young man's been playing on a bad wheel for quite some time. Hopefully he'll get back quickly. He's just 4 games from graduating from prospect status here on BP.
David Koci had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 5:35. No shots, no kills.
Martins Karsums had 2 shots and 1 hit in 8:49. He does nothing for me.
Richard Petiot managed, somehow, to land the big +3 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 21:49.
Matt Lashoff got his first even strength assist, 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 24:01. I'd like to see him take better angles in his own end. I think it would keep him from taking so many minor penalties.
Jimmy Howard steals two points from Norfolk.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 34 shots in the loss. He's now 8-12-0 on the season with a 2.69 GAA, 1 shutout, and a .919 save percentage.
NOR Simek, (8) (Zingoni, Henley), 10:28
GR Walsh, (3) (Stafford, Gagnon), 10:54
GR Emmerton, (9) (Abdelkader, Haydar), 5:01
Juraj Simek was named the game's third star.
The Admirals outshot Grand Rapids 48-34, but could only solve Jimmy Howard once in the game.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
With the Lightning going on a bit of a run, picking up points in 8 of their last 10 games, the team has played itself out of the second position for the draft lottery and now sits 1 point above Colorado in the standings. Considering the Avalanche's talented young center, Paul Stastny, just broke his foot and will probably be out for the remainder of the season, the Lightning may end up locked into the third position in the draft lottery. That would mean the odds would overwhelmingly favor the club picking third or fourth in the upcoming 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Picking in one of the first two slots in this draft would be fairly easy. London center John Tavares and MODO defenseman Victor Hedman have rightfully dominated the draft discussion. Picking third is a different animal altogether. It's a scenario not unlike the 2001 draft when the Lightning lost out on the opportunity to draft Ilya Kovalchuk or Jason Spezza when Atlanta won the draft lottery and pushed the team down to pick number three.
The good news is, I don't think the Lightning are going to get stuck with a lemon like Alex Svitov if they don't wind up in the top two picks. There are quality players on the board that should add to the core of the Lightning rebuilding project. Here's my board thus far:
1.) C John Tavares, 6'0" 198 lbs, London (OHL)
2.) D Victor Hedman, 6'6" 220 lbs, MODO (SWE)
More on the flip
The Lightning stole a point they didn't deserve.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the overtime loss. The 13 save second period he put on was the kind of mind-bending play that he used to display regularly as a rookie with Springfield in the AHL a couple of seasons back. Can you critique the goals he allowed? Sure. His mechanics were awkward on Montreal's first goal and he was completely out of his sorts on the Latendresse wraparaound goal. That said, the Lightning would've lost this game 7-2 easily without Ramo's play tonight. It wasn't just the saves: it was deflection save after deflection save. The athleticism is absolutely undeniable, and if you project Karri to, say, Mike Smith's age, you start to understand why the Lightning have so much hope tied up in the young man. He has gotten points in each of his last six starts, which is somewhat phenomenal given the defensive corps (corpse may be more accurate) assembled in front of him.
11:09 MTL Kovalev (20), (Tanguay, Schneider)(PP)
05:48 MTL Latendresse (12), (Kostopoulos, Markov)
10:26 TB Koci (1), (Hall, Craig)
14:43 TB Krajicek (2), (unassisted)
01:45 MTL Koivu (15), (Markov, Plekanec)
The first 40 minutes of this game were, other than Ramo, an embarassment for the Lightning. Were it not for the fact that the team has to play in Washington tomorrow night, a bag skate might still be in order, whether they stole a point late or not.
Noah Welch was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 11:33.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 5 blocked shots in 23:34.
David Koci scored his first NHL goal and was +1 in 4:06. Call him the sniper: one shot one kill. He practically leapt right out of his skates when he realized what he had done.
Martins Karsums had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:37.
Richard Petiot was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 5 blocked shots.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/25
Three Lightning prospects helped their clubs to opening round sweeps, while goaltender Torrie Jung and his Oil Kings finished their season. Also, Fadden returns to First Star status and Tokarski wins another close one.