With any kind of goaltending, the Lightning would've won this game 3-1.
Johan Holmqvist was awful in Game One. Awful. 5 goals on 24 shots in the loss and 3 of those were soft goals and the final goal of the game came on a terrible decision to move the puck rather than freezing it after he originally put his glove down on the biscuit on the play. Where do you go from here in net? Holmer's confidence might be 100% shattered right now. Denis has been publicly told to get lost, for all intents and purposes. And, while I have confidence in Karri Ramo and his abilities, he hasn't started a hockey game in close to a month and he's never started a game at the NHL level.
And the frustrating thing is the other 18 guys on the rink tonight for the Lightning definitely played well enough to win. They were the better team on balance. Vincent Lecavalier got loose for 2 goals. Martin St. Louis had 1 goal and 1 assist. Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Vaclav Prospal all had assists. All the big guns, for the most part, got theirs and the Lightning also got particularly strong games from Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky. Perhaps that's the silver lining: if the Lightning can find someone, ANYONE, who won't allow goals to go through them (the Devils' first goal), or to beat them on unscreened wristers from the side boards around the top of the circles (the Devils' second goal), or to get beaten on an emotionally deflating short side goal just moments after getting the game tied (the Devils fourth goal), then they should be able to handle New Jersey in this series.
On paper, the Lightning's goaltending situation is so much improved over last season, and yet there was something terribly Grahame-esque vs. Ottawa about Holmer tonight. Games Two and Three will be interesting.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Everett 3 @ Prince George 4 (Overtime)
Best-of-7 series tied 2-2
The Prince George Cougars got an overtime goal from Nicolas Drazenovic (St. Louis Blues) to beat the top-seeded Everett Silvertips 4-3 and tie their series at 2. Down 2 games to 0 heading back to Prince George, the Cougars won both home games and not the series goes back to Everett for Game 5 on Saturday. Both Vladimir Mihalik (Prince George) and Dane Crowley (Everett) were scoreless and minus-1. Crowley had a minor penalty for tripping in the third period.
Kazan struck even in their Superleague final series by knocking off Magnitogorsk 4-3 on Game Four. Dimtri Kazionov was scoreless in the match. Kazan's win sets up a decisive Game Five matchup on Friday.
I'll say it again: the Lightning need to make sure to take David Spina with them to Norfolk.
Jonathan Boutin allowed 3 goals on 14 shots before being pulled for Kevin Beech who allowed 3 on 33 shots to take the backdoor loss. David Spina and Norm Milley each had 2 goals in the game. Veterans Kyle Wanvig, Daniel Corso and Eric Healey each had 2 assists. Jacob Micflikier and Nick Kuiper added individual helpers.
Spina now has 15 goals and 35 points in 71 games this season. Over the last 11 games Spina has 7 goals and 13 points including 4 multi-point games. This comes at a time when Steve Stirling has chastized some of his players for simply going through the motions down the stretch of an otherwise lost season. Spina has now spent over 1-1/2 years playing in the Lightning's system in Springfield after being signed as an ATO midway through last season. His speed and his character have made him the rare success story among minor league players adjusting to the Lightning's style of play. Tampa has invested too much time in developing Spina not to take him to Norfolk.
SPR Milley, (25) (Corso, Healey), 5:00
MCH Kanko, (10) (Ryan, Giuliano), 5:20
MCH Harrold, (7) (Clarke, Murray), 8:21 (PP)
MCH Jackman, (18) (Schmidt), 16:28
SPR Spina, (14) (Wanvig, Micflikier), 19:24
SPR Milley, (26) (Healey, Corso), 2:35 (PP)
MCH Jackman, (19) (Murray, Clarke), 6:07 (PP)
MCH Likens, (2) (Murray, Westgarth), 15:34
MCH Likens, (3) (Ryan, Lewis), 10:53
SPR Spina, (15) (Kuiper, Wanvig), 15:58
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Everett 1 @ Prince George 5
Everett leads best-of-7 series 2-1
Prince George won a must-win game at home to inch closer to Everett in the clubs' Western Conference Semifinal series. The Silvertips still lead the series 2-1 after the Cougars won handily Tuesday night, 5-1. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and plus-2 for Prince George, and Dane Crowley was scoreless and minus-2 for Everett. Game 4 is tonight (Wednesday) in Prince George.