I'll let the Canadian Press intro this:
> The biggest statement in the battle between John Tavares and Victor Hedman was made by Dana Tyrell.
While the rock-solid forward won't supplant either of those players as the top pick in next year's draft - Tyrell signed a three-year contract with Tampa Bay last week - he made the biggest impact on Friday night.
Fun game to watch if you're an Ads fan.
Mike McKenna stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
NOR Smolenak, (10) (Konopka, Jones), 13:50 (PP)
NOR Wishart, (1) , 16:54
NOR Smolenak, (11) (Gratton, Lawrence), 2:44
NOR Downie, (3) , 3:26
NOR Mihalik, (2) (Downie, Gratton), 8:56 (PP)
I thought the Admirals best two players were probably Steve Downie and Chris Gratton in the game. Gratton looks like a man among boys at this level. Smolenak was in the right place at the right time for a power play goal after a puck bounced off an Albany defender and then on a nice setup by Gratton with Smolenak crossing the top of the crease. I didn't see Gratton out the second half of the third period. Hopefully that was to let the old man kick back and relax as opposed to an injury.
Downie's goal came after he pickpocketed a River Rats defender and then blistered a shot off the wing high glove side. If I have a criticism of Downie's game, it's that he doesn't shoot enough. That said, he's too good for the AHL level. He needs to be in the NHL soon.
Wishart got his first pro goal on a little harmless looking snap shot that skimmed off an Albany defender on the way in and found the back of the net. Not the most artistic goal, but he'll take it. Vladimir Mihalik found a rebound in the high slot and pounded a slap shot five hole on Justin Peters for his tally. Soft goal by Peters, in my opinion. In both defensemen's cases, beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure they're glad just to light the lamp.
Kevin Quick is starting to get back on schedule developmentally. He still makes mistakes (darned near cost McKenna his shutout on one shift in the third) but he's starting to look like a real AHLer, and when he gets it cranked up on the rush you can squint and see a bit of the puck carrying d-man the Lightning organization always thought he could become.
Jay Rosehill is becoming a Grade A badass. I remember when he was a lost little lamb playing for Johnstown in the Coast. He was a manimal dropping the gloves tonight. He beat Mike Angelidis like Angelidis owed him money tonight.
Don't read too much into this game, mind you. Albany is a thin team that was playing without one of their best players and all of a sudden the Admirals are laiden with NHLers and prospects who were recently up and proved their close to being NHLers. This was not a fair fight. Tomorrow night against Philly will be a truer test on just how far this configuration of the Ads can go. Still too many neutral zone turnovers by the forwards and the young d wasn't really tested under fire much considering how non-existent Albany's forecheck was tonight.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Rimouski Oceanic 2 @ Montreal Juniors 4
W/C Luca Cunti, RIM: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 8-15-23, -2, 20 PIM
Lewiston MAINEiacs 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3
D Michael Ward, LEW: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 4-13-17, E, 48 PIM
Who had it in their pool that Ward would be just six points behind Cunti near the half-way point?
Tomorrow's headline tonight: Lightning Hosed by Idiot Referees.
Mike Smith stopped 32 of 33 shots and 2 of 2 shooters in the shootout session, only to have the referee make a bogus call to award the Avs a shootout goal they didn't deserve to saddle him with the shootout loss.
03:46 COL Stastny (9), (Smyth, Hejduk)
07:35 TB Halpern (1), (Malik, Meszaros)
COL- The Referees
Mike Smith made an absolutely amazing athletic play after missing on the poke check and then going Gumby to his blocker on Milan Hedjuk's shootout bid, and dropped his stick in the process. Now, that is the kind of athletic play the NHL wants to see from its netminders in the shootout after a great goaltender duel all game long between Smith and Raycroft. And then these referees decide that they're going to award Hedjuk a goal based on Smith "throwing his stick?" It's a joke. I thought Rick Tocchet was going to beat the ref to death. He should've. Of all the ways I've seen to lose a game, that's a new one. It surpasses the baloney Chara eye-level bat-in against Boston a couple of years back. It's the new gold standard for poor officiating costing the Lightning a game.
Oh, and Jussi Jokinen is useless. Please, for the love of all that's holy, let the fat trimming include #36.
Paul Szczechura was +1 in 13:12 with 2 shots and 2 hits. And he was dynamite as usual.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot, and was 33% on draws in 9:15, and he had one terrible shift in the third period with two turnovers and never saw the ice again in the game.
Riku Helenius stopped 39 shots through regulation and overtime, but could get no help from his offense, as the Mississippi Sea Wolves fell to the visiting Florida Everblades 2-1 in OT. Helenius surrendered the shutout with less than 4 minutes left in regulation, and then gave up the one-timer blast from Kevin Baker with 30 seconds remaining in OT. Helenius earned second star honors for his effort. The Blades completed a two-night sweep of the Wolves with Mississippi goaltender Jeremy Duschesne allowing 9 Everblades goals on Tuesday night.
Former Lightning prospect Ryan Munce was released from his PTO with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) on Wednesday, and was back on the bench for the Sea Wolves backing up Helenius.
Florida 2 @ Mississippi 1
G Riku Helenius: 2 GA; 64:31 MIN; 41 SH; 39 SV; *SECOND STAR*
The Sea Wolves engage the Blades in a two-game rematch in Estero this Friday and Saturday night.