This team could be incredible if Lawton could find some defense without blowing up some other part of the team.
Karri Ramo allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. Despite allowing 5 goals, he actually didn't play all that badly. Two of Pittsburgh's goals came on breakaways and a third came on an uncovered player allowed to move in on Ramo all alone down the slot. The game winning goal was a case where Ramo was clearly interfered with after stopping the initial shot on the breakaway. Another goal came on a feed that went through the box on the PP down low to give Sid Crosby a clean look on Ramo moving laterally. Other than Cooke's goal to start the third period, which wasn't a bad goal so much as an untimely one, there's nothing I would fault Karri with. The decision is the 41st of Ramo's career, graduating him from prospect status here at BP.
05:00 PIT Fedotenko (16), (Staal, Kennedy)
10:08 PIT Crosby (31), (Malkin, Kunitz)(PP)
11:12 PIT Crosby (32), (Kunitz, Malkin)(PP)
01:08 PIT Cooke (12), (Staal, Letang)
04:31 TB Halpern (6), (Szczechura)(SH)
08:59 TB St. Louis (30), (Stamkos, Krajicek)
09:43 TB Szczechura (4), (unassisted)
11:43 PIT Sykora (25), (Fedotenko)
19:19 TB Halpern (7), (Karsums, Bochenski)
19:47 PIT Staal (22), (unassisted)(EN)
I give credit to the coaches and the players that no one laid down in the third period. It would've been damned easy to quit, but the Lightning came back and really gave the Pens a run for their money. They were one missed goaltender interference call away from getting to overtime. So, the heart is there, and for the most part the offensive potential is there. What's really lacking right now is two things: defense and penalty killing. The defense will get better by virtue of a healthy Andrej Meszaros and Paul Ranger. The penalty killing can't possibly get any worse. I don't know the stats, but the PK has been absolutely rancid the second half of this season.
Ryan Malone broke his hand blocking a shot in this game, making him the fifth key Lightning player to be shelved with a serious injury. He had already proven that last year wasn't a flash in the pan by potting his 26th goal. I give him credit. He's won me over. The injury may open up an opportunity for someone from Norfolk to get a two game cup of coffee. Blair Jones? Justin Keller? Juraj Simek?
Lets go Avs.
Noah Welch had 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:13 against the organization who drafted him.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 2 hits in 9:58 and was 60% on draws. 9:58? Seemed like a lot more, in a good way. There are games where Konopka is nothing more than a circus clown, and then there are games like tonight where he plays hockey and he's a difference maker. He was a split second away from landing a shoulder-to-chin hit on Matt Cooke that would've made him a hero in Tampa Bay forever, and he about chewed the ends off the boards on the forecheck. Very well done.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 22:56. Tonight was Smaby's 41st game of the season, meaning he joins Ramo as a freshly minted Bolt Prospects Alumni.
David Koci had 3 hits and 17 penalty minutes in 6:00 of ice time. His fight against Eric Godard seemed like the emotional tipping point of this game. Again, very well done.
Paul Szczechura had 1 goal, 1 assist, and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, and 4 shots in 16:00. He also was 33% on draws. I don't know what it is about Pittsburgh, but when Szczechura sees that jersey he seems to duck into the nearest phone booth and turn into Superman. I still don't think Szczechura is in his best shape, but he was flying tonight. That's the best game he's played in months, and the kind of game he needs to get on tape if he wants to make the team next season.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist, 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:23. He was fairly invisible, despite the impressive stat line.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 1 hit in 17:23. I don't know if he got hurt or if the coaching staff was sending a message.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:41. Mobility is obviously an issue with Vladdy, but his lack of decisiveness remains a bigger concern to me.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 4/5
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5 @ Quebec Remparts 3
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 2-0
D Michael Ward, CB: 0-3-3, +3, 2 PIM, 0 SOG, *First Star*
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 1-4-5, +4, 10 PIM
Season totals: 65 GP, 7-27-34, +9, 105 PIM
Cape Breton swept the series' opening games in Quebec City and their 2-0 lead heading back to the island looks huge. Wardâ€™s three assist sets a career high for assists in a game. He has reached three points in a game one other time, that coming December 28 vs. PEI (1-2-3) - his second game with the Screaming Eagles after being traded from Lewiston. Two of Ward's assists Sunday came on the power play and one was shorthanded. Game 3 is Tuesday in Sydney.
Luke Witkowski and West No.3 Fargo will begin their Best of 5 first round series with No.2 Omaha on Friday in Nebraska.
Unable to solve Munroe.
Craig Kowalski allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss.
PHI Ratchuk, (5) (Munroe), 7:27
PHI Laliberte, (27) (Guenin, Matsumoto), 9:16 (SH)
PHI Laliberte, (28) (Matsumoto, Maroon), 17:37
Kowalski was named the game's third star.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/31
Another multipoint night for Fadden ... The Wright Stuff ... Tokarski and Spokane on the ropes ... Witkowski ready for the playoffs ... Barberio and Moncton defeat Cunti and Rimouski.
2-1/2 hours of my life I'll never get back.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the loss. That might've been his worst game as a member of the Lightning. Each of the Islanders' first two goals are ones Mike probably would like back and he made another big puck handling error that he managed to get away with. He's got one more start scheduled this season, and that's probably a good thing. You'd hate to go out like that after a pretty successful year.
00:23 NYI Park (14), (Joensuu)
14:52 NYI Martinek (5), (Gervais, Joensuu)(PP)
16:38 TB Pettinger (6), (Karsums)(PP)
09:14 NYI Bailey (7), (Comeau, Gervais)(PP)
The Lightning waited 35 minutes tonight to start playing. Watching grass grow would've been more exciting.
Noah Welch had 3 hits and 3 blocked shots in 19:04. He's been decent the past two games, which is shocking considering how poorly he'd previously played.
Zenon Konopka had a fight, 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 67% on draws in 7:42. He earned his game check.
Matt Smaby was beastly with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 7 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 22:22. He's been so much better since taking a game off to nurse his foot injury. Graduation Tuesday. Bring your digital cap and gown.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 15:33. He was also 38% on draws.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:02. Like Welch, he's playing better in these past two games.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 27:17. He lost a couple of physical battles that resulted in one puck going in the net and one being rung off the post. He didn't do his younger pairing partner any favors.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 1 shot in 13:05 paired primarily with Lashoff. I thought this was his best NHL game thus far, but that may not be saying much. He looked more confident, but he's still a little slow to react to the play. The guy's a mountain and he had 0 hits. That's still a problem. I was, admittedly, surprised he got the call over Ty Wishart or Kevin Quick.