The Lightning are finally starting to establish an identity in the post-Tortorella era.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 29 shots in the win.
07:06 TB Stamkos (4), (Smaby, Jokinen)
14:03 TB Artyukhin (3), (Recchi, Jokinen)(PP)
03:09 FLA Booth (13), (unassisted)
04:52 TB Lecavalier (13), (St. Louis, Malone)
16:27 FLA Horton (7), (Stillman, Weiss)(PP)
16:53 FLA Booth (14), (Frolik, McCabe)(PP)
19:54 TB Lecavalier (14), (St. Louis, Malone)
04:42 TB Malone (8), (St. Louis, Ranger)
07:46 TB St. Louis (13), (Lecavalier, Malone)
13:57 FLA Weiss (6), (Booth)
I haven't seen a Lightning team play this physical is about 12.5 years. You can see, it's starting to sink in and become the new identity of this team. Rick Tocchet has found a real nice energy line with Artyukhin, Szczechura, and Pettinger, and he's got some other bangers like Hall and it's starting to get contagious. I noticed Andrej Meszaros and Mark Recchi starting to take the body more recently and tonight, my goodness, Vaclav Prospal was in seek and destroy mode on a couple of plays. When you start getting a finesse playmaker like Prospal to lower the boom, you've got something cooking.
The other side of the equation, as I said last night, is that the first line has to get cooking, and they did tonight. The Lightning are getting secondary contributions, but they're meaningless unless Lecavalier and St. Louis can manufacture a couple of goals themselves between them on a nightly basis. Lecavalier's goal late in the second period settling down his tee shot off a Marty St. Louis rebound was a big, big goal; maybe the biggest of the year thus far.
The Lightning are now 6 games under .500 and I think they now need to go into the same mode Norfolk is in: try to get this thing back to .500 over the next month or so and then go from there.
Matt Smaby had 1 assist, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 12:57 tonight. He made some mistakes, but they were mistakes of aggression, which I think the coaching staff is more able to live with than passive mistakes.
Paul Szczechura had 4 shots, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 10:08.
Steven Stamkos had 1 goal, and was +1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and he was 60% on draws. He might've stolen Smaby's first NHL goal from him on the tap in (Smaby got his first NHL point on the resulting assist). As with Smaby, Stamkos isn't playing perfect, but he's at least playing aggressive. Controlled aggression: that's what this team's motto needs to be.
Mike McKenna stopped 34 of 36 shots faced for the win.
NOR Segal, (12) , 2:37
NOR Keller, (4) (Ward, Potulny), 5:11
NOR Potulny, (5) (Konopka, Bochenski), 1:25 (PP)
NOR Downie, (4) (Lundin, Bochenski), 3:10 (PP)
NOR Rosehill, (2) (Potulny, Lundin), 15:36
PHI Matsumoto, (11) (DeSantis, Syvret), 17:38 (PP)
NOR Downie, (5) (Smolenak, Lundin), 19:36
NOR Downie, (6) (Mihalik), 10:16
PHI Klotz, (1) (Matsumoto, Sirianni), 14:08
Downie continues to make a strong case for a recall. That young man is a stud prospect.
Norfolk improves to 13-16-5 this season, just 3 games under .500. Next up, a three game roadie through the Northeast starting on New Year's Eve at Portland.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Tokarski got Canada's first start in the tournament and responded with a series of huge saves in the opening period to keep the game scoreless before Canada's onslaught began. After Canada had a snowman on the board, the only question would be if Tokarski got his shutout. He was beaten late to nullify that, but his big-game play came through once again - this time on the international stage in what he called the biggest start of his young career.
Canada plays Borat's homeland on Sunday. Chet Pickard will likely get the start in that game.
Florida's luck finally ran out in the shootout.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before stopping 2 of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
11:24 TB Eminger (2), (Ranger)
18:28 FLA Ballard (4), (Boynton, Dvorak)
16:53 TB Recchi (8), (Eminger, Pettinger)
18:27 TB Artyukhin (2), (Malone, Eminger)
13:37 FLA Stillman (8), (Bouwmeester, Ballard)(PP)
19:46 FLA McCabe (6), (Weiss, Stillman)
TB- Hall, Jokinen, Malone
FLA- Stillman, Horton
Interesting message sent by Tocchet to Lecavalier and St. Louis by going with shooters like Hall and Artyukhin in the shootout session. Considering the Lightning have won the past two games on the road without any meaningful contributions offensively from the top line, one could interpret this as a wake-up call. If Lecavalier and Marty ever do get it cooking along with the secondary scoring the team has, they could reel off a winning streak here. Taking both ends of a home-and-home away from that vile cesspool of a franchise down in South Florida by winning tomorrow night at home would be an outstanding morale booster for the team and the fanbase alike.
Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 14:30. He got a fair amount of ice time but wasn't terribly noticable.
Steven Stamkos was +1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 13:17. He was really flying tonight, and he had a point blank chance in the third period that could've been the dagger in Florida's heart. He's still struggling anywhere below the circles because of his lack of strength, but his jump was good tonight and he seemed more aggressive. If they can get that effort from Stamkos every night for the next little while, they'll take it, I'm sure.
Best performance of the year by the Lightning.
Mike Smith stopped 15 of 15 shots faced for the big shutout win. He was on tonight. No rebounds.
05:15 TB Pettinger (2), (Szczechura, Recchi)
11:14 TB Szczechura (2), (Jokinen, Recchi)(PP)
Paul Szczechura, Matt Pettinger, and Mark Recchi were your three stars, and let me tell you, Szczechura played an awesome game at both ends of the ice. #38 seems to live in the opposing team's passing lanes, and when the Lightning went into the trap in the third period he drove the Pens crazy by picking off pass after pass. He set up the first goal. He scored the insurance goal. And he was all up in the Pens business to protect what he helped build. Great game by Szczechura. He's a revelation. Quite possibly the smartest prospect in Lightning history.
Szczechura had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and he was 29% on draws in 13:28. He tortured Pittsburgh in those 13:28.
Steven Stamkos was a non-factor in 7:47 of ice time.