I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Cam Neely? Andre Roy? They're the same guy.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 27 of 27 shots faced to post the first shutout by any Lightning goaltender this season. He was excellent, and seems to be settling nicely into the Lightning's new tandem arrangement, alternating starts with Karri Ramo.
For anyone thinking that the Lightning had given up, were tuning out their coach, were already making tee times etc etc after the Colorado game, tonight was an object lesson in the heart and pride that still exists in that Lightning locker room. This season may very well be a wash, but the Lightning cannot allow bad habits to sink in and they must continue to compete night in and night out, regardless of what the standings say.
On the other side of the rink, can you imagine a worse scenario for Pittsburgh? Not only do you get shutout by Johan Holmqvist and drop your 7th straight game on home ice to the Lightning, but you lose your superstar to a high ankle sprain in the process? Ouch. They have to be wishing they had never taken the ice tonight.
Mathieu Darche was even in 8:25 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots. Tonight was his 40th game of the season, meaning he will graduate to NHLer by this site's criteria if he plays against Ottawa. Congratulations will definitely be in order.
The Pussy Cats FEAR #74.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the win.
Tampa Bay 9:15, Brad Richards 12 (Vaclav Prospal, Martin St. Louis)
Florida 14:59, David Booth 11 (Jassen Cullimore, Stephen Weiss)
Florida 18:31, Brett McLean 4 (Magnus Johansson, Jay Bouwmeester)
Tampa Bay 19:44, Brad Richards 13 (empty net) (Martin St. Louis)
#74 got out of the press box and popped in 2 goals. THAT is how you respond to being scratched. Very nice. I'm happy for 'nasty.
Mathieu Darche had an assist and was +2 in 11:08 with 1 shot and 2 hits. I think Torts is finally starting to zero in on where the sweet spots are in terms of ice time for the checking liners. It's a shame it took until January to get here.
The frustrating thing is the team did almost everything right tonight and still got nothing for it.
Another quality start by Karri Ramo wasted by lack of goal support. Ramo allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss, but really he did just about everything humanly possible to keep the Lightning in this game. The third Penguins goal which was a broken stick shot by Sykora of a skate to Ryan Malone at point blank range is one of the more unlucky goals I've seen in a while.
The Lightning were a Filip Kuba crossbar and/or a Vincent Lecavalier shooting the puck into Conklin's glove rather than a gaping 4x6 away from getting points out of this one. They played well with the exception of a short span in the second period when they were under siege a bit. Under ordinary circumstances over the past two seasons you could shrug this off and say "They'll get 'em next time." Problem is, there aren't many more next times if you do the math. The Lightning can't leave anymore points on the table and have hopes of making a run at the playoffs. I give it another two weeks before Jay Feaster really has to start thinking about pulling the plug on this thing and picking up assetts for a quick turnaround offseason rebuild.
Mathieu Darche had 1 assist and was +1 in 7:46 with 1 shot and 2 hits. Darche is set to graduate from overage prospect status in 4 games, putting his likely last individual stat line report at 1/19 against the Senators.
Lightning gut it out to get back in the win column.
Karri Ramo with a really gritty performance in net. He surrendered New York's first goal on a puckhandling gaffe and never looked 100% comfortable, but he stopped the pucks he had to stop and ended up making 31 saves on 34 shots for the win.
NY Rangers 4:22, Michal Rozsival 11 (power play) (Chris Drury, Paul Mara)
Tampa Bay 19:57, Martin St. Louis 17 (empty net) (Vincent Lecavalier)
The Lightning pulled this one out with a critical penalty kill down two men with a one goal lead in the third. Credit to the Lightning PK for getting in shooting lanes and Ramo for getting the one glove save he needed 2/3 through that PK to get a whistle. It doesn't hurt that the Rangers kept missing the net too.
Mathieu Darche was even in 9:28 with 1 shot on goal.
Finally, the Lightning manage 3 goals support for Ramo and they get a point out of the deal. It isn't rocket science.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 29 shots before getting roughed up in the extra session to take the penalty shot loss.
Tampa Bay 13:29, Andreas Karlsson 1 (Jan Hlavac, Shane O'Brien)
Toronto 3:23, Jason Blake 6 (Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle)
Toronto 9:39, Mats Sundin 18 (Jason Blake)
Tampa Bay 10:08, Martin St. Louis 14 (Vaclav Prospal, Vincent Lecavalier)
Toronto 17:27, Hal Gill 2 (Jason Blake, Pavel Kubina)
Tampa Bay 19:19, Paul Ranger 7 (Vaclav Prospal, Vincent Lecavalier)