Gagne is back.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 25 shots tonight for the win. His rebound control was pretty poor tonight, and he didn't make the greatest decision on Toronto's third goal to leave his crease to try to play the puck. Fortunately, the boys in front of him picked him up.
01:25 TOR Versteeg (7), Bozak (4), Gunnarsson (2)
05:18 TB Malone (6), Gagne (1)(PP)
11:51 TOR Kulemin (8), Kaberle (11), Versteeg (7)(PP)
07:23 TOR Kulemin (9), Crabb (1), Komisarek (6)
08:25 TB St Louis (9), Downie (12)
19:51 TB St Louis (10), Stamkos (19), Moore (5)
01:15 TB Gagne (1), Clark (6)
Simon Gagne and Martin St. Louis were the game's first and second stars. Gagne, in his first game back after missing almost a quarter of the season, scored the overtime winner, had a helper, and set a screen in front on the tying goal with less than ten seconds to go in regulation. I think I'd call that a successful return.
Credit to the Lightning for playing 60 minutes of hockey. Good teams find ways to win games like this when they don't have their best but they find ways to make plays to pull out the two points. Bad teams find ways to lose games like this, and Toronto is surely a bad team.
Mathieu Roy had 1 hit in 2:00. Nice work if you can get it.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 1 shot in 12:06.
How close are the Lightning's prospects to graduation, you ask? Roy is 17 games off, based on the 82 career games rule. Tyrell is 19 games off. Ritola is 26 games off. B. Jones is 32 games off. Harju is 37 games off.
I hate shootouts, but not as much as I hate the Panthers.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 27 shots before giving up 1 goal on 4 attempts for the shootout loss. One of Ellis' goals allowed was on a penalty shot.
10:21 TB Purcell (5), Stamkos (18), Malone (10)(PP)
10:12 TB Tyrell (3), Ritola (3), Downie (11)
12:22 FLA Dvorak (5), unassisted (SH)(PS)
03:08 FLA Kulikov (1), unassisted
08:31 FLA Matthias (4), Santorelli (3)
13:15 TB Bergenheim (4), Purcell (12), Malone (11)
Teddy Purcell and Dana Tyrell were the game's second and third stars. Florida got the bounces they needed to hang around in the game and ended up stealing two points. The effort level was much improved from the Washington debacle, at least.
Mattias Ritola had an assist and two shots in 7:26. Tonight, his softness officially became a liability, when he got beat on Kulikov's goal.
Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 12:22.
Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 2:37.
Suggestion to Coach Boucher for the next morning activation exercise in DC: bag skate.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 18 shots for the loss before Dan Ellis came in and gave up 2 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way. You can't blame the goaltending, though, when the team in front of the netminder can't win a single skate race or puck battle and only manages a measely 17 shots on goal.
03:09 WSH Carlson (3), Johansson (1)
04:38 WSH Erskine (3), Fahey (1), Laich (11)
06:52 WSH Semin (15), Johansson (2)
08:56 WSH Semin (16), Backstrom (16), Ovechkin (20)(PP)
11:21 WSH Semin (17), Backstrom (17), Ovechkin (21)(PP)
14:46 WSH Poti (2), Hendricks (5)
I can't explain it. I can't explain why this team starts playing stupid hockey every time they go into Washington DC, and I can't explain why this team seems to lay down every time they see the Caps. It's as amazing as it is unacceptable, especially given what was on the line in this game. It's like they don't respect Washington's offense enough and they get into run-and-gun mode, and you lose if you get into run-and-gun mode with Washington. But what's even more annoying is to only manage 17 shots on Washington, when you know damned well the Capitals don't play any defense. But, when you're last to the puck every single time, you don't generate shots on goal, and you get shutout. Lesson learned, I hope. Move your feet.
In any event, there's a trap game tomorrow night against a Florida team that seems to only play about a half a dozen good games a season, and they save them all for the time they play against the Lightning. Time to get back to basics, and start working hard again, because the last two periods against Washington were pittiful.
Mattias Ritola was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit. And, the next puck battle he wins will be his next. He's soft as margarine on the forecheck. There, I said it.
Dana Tyrell was -1 in 11:27.
Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:15. He also was 56% on draws. I thought today's game was a step forward for Blair. He seemed to do less thinking on the forecheck and more competing. This kid's a beast behind the opposing cage on the forecheck when he's playing rather than outsmarting himself. When he tries to be clever, he kills himself, because he's just not quick enough to take that extra split second to ponder the play. He just needs to stick his nose in and play like the JYD we all know he can be.
First five game winning streak since 2007.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the win.
07:06 TB Malone (4), Stamkos (16), St Louis (20)(PP)
15:37 TB Malone (5), Stamkos (17), Purcell (10)(PP)
04:53 TB Stamkos (21), Downie (9), St Louis (21)
11:05 TB Clark (5), Downie (10), Purcell (11)(PP)
16:56 TB Hedman (1), Ritola (2), Bergenheim (6)
03:58 NYR Eminger (1), Stepan (8)
12:51 NYR Boyle (10), Staal (3), Prust (6)(SH)
18:56 NYR Stepan (5), Gaborik (6), Del Zotto (5)(PP)
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone, and Steve Downie were the game's three stars. It was forty minutes of some of the best hockey of the year, followed by twenty minutes of the team letting its foot off the gas a bit and starting to freelance a bit and play outside of the team system, especially on the power play, as they tried to get Malone his hat trick goal. They'll take the two points and learn from that third period, hopefully, and get ready for a big game against the Caps. The Lightning have maintained contact in the standings at 4 points back with a game in hand. A win against Washington really sends a message.
By the way, Malone's two power play goals and the Clark goal were Exhibit A on how teams cheating to try to take away Stamkos on the power play are just playing Russian Roulette. They left Malone in front for two easy rebound goals by cheating toward Stamkos and then left Downie wide open for a one timer up the slot on the Clark goal. And, what's funny is, Stamkos still had about three really good chances from around the left wing circle anyway. Teams are going to start weighing the risk-reward of overplaying to Stamkos' side now, and I don't think that's a gamble where the team that does it wins. He's got such a quick release there's still a decent chance he's going to get his shot off anyway, and you're surrendering the front of the net or a shot from dead center up the slot in the process. Heaven help the league when that unit gets Lecavalier back in the right wing circle, because if he can pound a few one timers home like he used to back-in-the-day, it's going to create absolute chaos in the assistant coaching community.
Mattias Ritola had an assist and was +1 with 3 shots in 8:04. He darned near had a goal on the first shift on the Lightning's last power play.
Dana Tyrell had 1 blocked shot in 13:36. It's crazy to see his stat line so blank, because he was definitely involved in tonight's play. He played well again.
Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 8:34. I've seen him play better. It's not for lack of effort. He just seems to be playing tight, perhaps.
... And you keep winning...
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win.
03:26 TB Tyrell (2), Jones (6), Thompson (6)
05:15 TB Stamkos (20), St Louis (19), Downie (8)
11:36 TB Purcell (4), Moore (4), Malone (9)
10:38 BOS Ryder (6), Wheeler (4), Caron (3)
The Lightning absolutely dominated Boston for about 36 of the first 40 minutes, and outshot Boston 36-27 overall on the game, with a ton of chances. They could've scored another 8 like in Philly if not for the play of Tuukka Rask. That's a nice statement to make on national TV.
Mathieu Roy had 1 hit in 2:51. Nice work if you can get it.
Dana Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:33. That was probably his best NHL game thus far, and not just because of the goal he got going into a high traffic area. His speed was evident, and he got himself another nice chance from the left wing circle he just shot wide with Rask screened. The most impressive thing I saw, though, was Tyrell almost knocked Zdeno Chara off the puck at one point after Steve Downie almost got killed trying to run at Chara. How strong is Dana Tyrell if he can move a mountain like Chara?
Blair Jones was scoreless in 6:01.
Expect moves to be made with Ritola coming off suspension and Gagne seemingly close to returning.
Maybe the craziest game I've ever seen.
04:21 PHI Nodl (4), Zherdev (1), Richards (12)
05:03 PHI Zherdev (6), Carle (5), Richards (13)
08:20 TB Stamkos (17), St Louis (15), Ellis (1)(PP)
08:36 TB Hall (3), Hedman (7), Bergenheim (5)
09:51 PHI Carter (9), O'Donnell (2), Giroux (12)
13:59 TB Malone (3), St Louis (16), Stamkos (15)(PP)
15:34 PHI Hartnell (7), Coburn (5), Carle (6)
18:04 PHI Briere (10), Hartnell (7), O'Donnell (3)
18:18 TB Clark (4), Moore (3), Hedman (8)
04:11 TB Stamkos (18), St Louis (17), Lundin (5)
04:59 PHI Zherdev (7), Powe (4), Pronger (7)
09:27 PHI Meszaros (1), van Riemsdyk (5), Betts (4)
09:41 TB Downie (3), St Louis (18), Stamkos (16)
18:59 TB Stamkos (19), Purcell (8), St Louis (19)(PP)
05:19 TB Thompson (3), Tyrell (2), Bergenheim (6)
What'd we see tonight? 1.) 15 goals? Check. 2.) A hat trick for #91 on just three amazing shots? Three shots. Three kills. Check. 3.) Brett Clark scoring a goal by shooting it THROUGH the net? Check. 4.) Matt Roy darned near putting a guy in the hospital? Check. 5.)And the biggest shocker of all: in a game with 15 goals your winner is scored by... Nate Thompson? Nate bleeping Thompson!?
Mind you, there were a few things this game could have used to spice it up a little more: 1.) Mike Smith scoring an empty net goal and then doing snow angels in his crease to celebrate. 2.) Creating a timewarp where ex-Lightning player Kurtis Foster breaks a pane of glass and/or Evgeny Artyukhin puts a player through the glass. 3.) Steve Downie inciting a riot/bench clearer that ends with the stands being set on fire. 4.) For no good reason, Rudy Poeschek and Paul Laus happening to be in attendance and getting in a Pier 6 brawl at the nacho stand. 5.) A live penguin sliding out onto the ice and halting play. Baseball has squirrels and birds. I feel hockey should have the occassional stray penguin halting play. 6.) I like this one the best. Coach Fleming hitting Hulk Hogan with a steel chair while the ref isn't looking so Guy Boucher can get the 1-2-3 at center ice and win the championship belt. Just some suggestions to Gary Bettman and Lightning management on how to improve on the already unbelievable product we saw tonight.
Johan Harju was -2 in 4:45. You couldn't swing a cat without hitting a minus in this game tonight.
Mathieu Roy was -1 with a hit that almost put Darroll Powe in traction in 4:39.
Dana Tyrell had a helper on the game winner and 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 11:39. Andrej Meszaros is a dead man the next time the Lightning play the Flyers for trying to take out Tyrell's knees in the third period, especially considering Tyrell had major knee surgery less than 2 years ago.
Must win game gets won.
Dan Ellis allowed 2 goals on 36 shots in the win.
19:59 Stamkos (16), St Louis (13), Malone (8)(PP)
12:49 TB Clark (3), St Louis (14), Stamkos (14)(PP)
17:26 NYI Moulson (7), Konopka (1)
18:31 TB St Louis (8), Downie (7), Lundin (4)
18:52 NYI Tavares (7), Moulson (5), Wisniewski (12)
19:44 TB Thompson (2), unassisted(EN)
Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars. I don't know what the Isles ever did to Marty, but he seems to relish ripping their hearts out and stomping on them. He's filthy in the third period of close games against the Isles.
This was a crucial win for the Lightning to arrest any potential feefall while trying to get healthy. They've got Downie back, Gagne's back in practice, and Lecavalier's about 4.5 weeks out. So they can't lose to the handful of teams they should pound in the meantime, like the Islanders, and they didn't tonight.
Mattias Ritola had 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and was 75% on draws in 5:09. His major penalty was for charging.
Johan Harju had 1 shot and 1 hit in 6:41. I thought Johan showed a little more of his defensive game tonight, helping his line clog up the neutral zone.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 2 blocked shots in 9:28.
If it weren't for bad luck, the Lightning would have no luck, right now.
Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the loss.
07:16 MIN Clutterbuck (6), Cullen (11), Havlat (10)(PP)
11:31 TB St Louis (7), Clark (4), Stamkos (13)(PP)
12:55 MIN Madden (3), Havlat (11), Zidlicky (5)
19:30 MIN Miettinen (4), Brunette (6), Koivu (12)(PP)
19:11 MIN Nystrom (1), unassisted(EN)
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
Despite outshooting Minnesota 38-18, the Lightning didn't generate as many chances as the lopsided shot totals might suggest. People thinking it's easy to absorb losing a player like Vincent Lecavalier out of your lineup, and especially off your power play, should take notice.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 10:57 and was 43% on draws.
Johan Harju was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 9:10. He was soft a couple of times along the wall, weakly moving a puck blindly to a Minny point man on one play and meekly moving a puck along in the neutral zone on another. Other than blind passes to the middle of the ice, that's the quickest way I know of to get an NHL coach to send you back down.
Dana Tyrell played a very quiet 8:56.
The Lightning played a lot better than the score indicates.
Dan Ellis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the loss. I didn't think he played as poorly as his stat line indicates, either.
09:27 TB Purcell (2), Bergenheim (4), Thompson (4)
02:21 WSH Poti (1), Semin (8), Backstrom (11)
07:51 WSH Knuble (3), Laich (7), Fleischmann (4)
02:43 TB Malone (2), St Louis (10), Stamkos (12)(PP)
04:33 WSH Semin (10), Backstrom (12), Ovechkin (13)(PP)
10:46 WSH Semin (11), Backstrom (13), Ovechkin (14)
12:43 TB Stamkos (14), Moore (2), St Louis (11)
15:08 WSH Ovechkin (9), Semin (9), Schultz (4)
19:44 WSH Semin (12), Backstrom (14), Carlson (7)(EN)
It's tough. They outshot the Caps 41-26 in the game and were about even, I imagine, in chances. Their guys beared down on their chances. The Lightning didn't. This could've been a 6-3 game in favor of the Lightning pretty easily if they got the bounces. I'll take the effort the Lightning gave tonight on most nights. The big drama now, though, is what the fallout will be from Vincent Lecavalier not touching the ice in the third period. Injured? Benched? We shall see.
UPDATE: Lecavalier broke his right hand and is out indefinitely.
Mattias Ritola was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:20.
Dana Tyrell was -2 in 11:14 with 1 shot. He seemed off tonight.
The Lightning made Toronto look like an AHL team, and it wasn't nearly Tampa Bay's best effort.
Dan Ellis stopped all 28 shots he faced for the shutout. He made key saves when the Lightning needed them to make sure the Leafs didn't sustain a comeback surge. Very good effort.
11:10 TB Stamkos (12), St Louis (9), Lecavalier (6)(PP)
11:39 TB Thompson (1), Lundin (3), Tyrell (1)
19:13 TB Moore (5), Jones (4), Malone (7)
05:46 TB Stamkos (13), Hall (3),Ohlund (1)
Dan Ellis, Steven Stamkos, and Dominic Moore were the game's three stars. The Lightning got away with sleepwalking through the second period because they're just a superior team talent-wise relative to Toronto and because Ellis played well tonight. I suspect Boucher will not let the Lightning get to happy about this win, because they didn't play as well as the scoreboard indicates. Still, it's a good way to snap a three game skid and, for the moment, climb back withing two points of the Caps in the division. To me that's the key. The Lightning need to maintain contact with Washington in the standings and hope they can win the balance of the head-to-head matches with Washington. If they do that, they can be a one or two seed in the East at season's end. And, what the Lightning should know from the 2003-2004 campaign is that being a top seed can really help you by giving you two easier rounds to get settled into the playoffs before the bombs start dropping in the conference finals.
Stupid Canadian media moment of the night: Sportsnet Canada's studio hosts claiming that the Lightning simply had to trade Steven Stamkos to Boston for draft picks. They must've smoked their body weight in dope before going on camera. Don't do drugs, kids, or you might end up as a studio host in Toronto being forced to watch 82 games of a horrible hockey team.
Mattias Ritola had 1 hit in 9:56. As I've said before, he's an NHLer from the blueline in.
Dana Tyrell had an assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 14:11. Another high intensity night for Dana. I liked it. He was a thorn in Toronto's side.