So ends Evgeny Nabokov's NHL career?
Evgeny Nabokov allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before giving way to Ben Bishop, who allowed 3 on 12 shots the rest of the way. The fact Cooper didn't put Nabokov back in for the Third Period seems a bit telling, like perhaps this is the end of the road. Nabokov appeared to earn the start after playing reasonably well in his last outing, but he once again proved the Lightning just can't rely on him for even a mediocre start in back-to-back situations. Were it me, I'd highly consider calling up Kristers Gudlevskis to assume day-to-day practice duties as a waiver-exempt placeholder and then swap him with Andrei Vasilevskiy for planned starts, such as in upcoming back-to-backs. It could be a sad ending for Nabokov, who is probably one of the 4 or 5 best Russian goaltenders ever. The bottom dropped out quickly for him, though, a la Dwayne Roloson several years back.
6:12 PHI VandeVelde (3), (Schenn, Giroux)
10:26 TB Stamkos (23), (Johnson, Stralman)(PP)
16:15 PHI Umberger (7), (Read, Coburn)
1:45 PHI Voracek (17), (Streit, Giroux)(PP)
2:36 PHI Bellemare (4), (VandeVelde, Del Zotto)
7:02 PHI Streit (5), (Schenn, Simmonds)(PP)
8:37 PHI Schenn (10), (Streit, Voracek)(PP)
15:01 PHI Raffl (11), (Laughton, Simmonds)
15:23 TB Boyle (8), (Paquette, Stralman)
1:20 TB Callahan (13), (Drouin, Filppula)(PP)
Adding injury to insult, Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson left the game with lower body injuries, the former of which meant that Brian Boyle ended up having to take shifts on defense. Johnson's injury, which looked like a potential twisted knee, is particularly troubling. So, in addition to whatever happens (if anything) with the goaltending situation, you could see Vladislav Namestnikov called up to fill for Johnson and on defense, I'll guess Luke Witkowski would get the call and the coaching staff might try to slide one of their lefties playing the right side over to the left side.
This was a case where the Lightning got caught peeking ahead to Boston, didn't come out with their best effort, saw some soft goaltending, and allowed it to snowball out of control. Now they'll go into a place they seemingly never win with a depleted lineup after Bishop had to nearly play 2 periods of hockey in the back-to-back situation. So, a minor lapse of mental focus may snowball beyond a single hockey game, which is a lesson Cooper should stress to his team.
Cedric Paquette had a helper with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:32, as he got to fill some of Johnson's minutes. He was also 40% on draws. To his credit, he was still throwing checks and playing hard in garbage time on the Third Period, which isn't unexpected given his well-respected effort level.
Jonathan Drouin had a helper and was -1 with 1 hit in 15:56. Zero shot attempts. None. The kid sneezes out assists, which is amazing for a guy who rarely even attempts to shoot the puck, and tells you how big a point producer he could be if he actually did.
Luke Witkowski isn't sitting idly by waiting for the phone to ring.
The Syracuse defenseman, one of the last players cut from Tampa Bay Lightning training camp who earned a short call-up in October but didn't play, isn't worried about when he will have the opportunity to make his NHL debut. Even with the Lightning's blueline being banged up, Witkowski is focused on his game and doing what he can to help the Crunch.
"I'm not really worried about that right now," Witkowski said of the possibility of a promotion.
Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler has seen progress in Witkowski's second professional season.
All good things...
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
ADK Wolf, (3) (Vause, Wotherspoon), 0:13
SYR Witkowski, (1) (Richard, Kunyk), 17:42
ADK Vause, (1) (Poirier, Wolf), 19:58
ADK Reid, (2) (Cundari), 11:56 (PP)
ADK Poirier, (4) (Cundari, Reid), 16:56 (PP)
Syracuse's points streak is snapped at 8 games. Hard to believe Adirondack could withstand deployment of the secret weapon, Luke Witkowski, but the goal allowed with 2 seconds left in the Second Period ended up being a killer. Goals early and late in periods...
Yanni Gourde's point streak was also snapped at 6 games.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Young Lightning Crunch Nashville.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots in his North American debut for the victory. After falling behind 2-1 in the Second Period, the big Russian slammed the door the rest of the way, which is what good starting goaltenders do.
1:02 NSH Forsberg (1), (Wilson)
5:41 TB Kucherov (1), (Namestnikov, Marchessault)
7:40 NSH Smith (1), (Roy)
8:35 TB Marchessault (1), (Namestnikov)
13:49 TB Barberio (1), (Filppula, Witkowski)
15:08 TB Marchessault (2), (Namestnikov, Kucherov)
If you're a Syracuse Crunch fan, you have to be very satisfied with the way this group of players performed tonight. Your stud rookie netminder lived up to expectations. What may be your top line exploded for 3 goals including keying a big comeback. And Luke Witkowski beat the brown runny out of someone, to boot. Not a lot to complain about there.
Box score from NHL.com.
Syracuse breaks out.
SYR Witkowski, (1) (Korobov, DiSalvatore), 3:53
SYR DiSalvatore, (7) (Angelidis, Tyrell), 9:26
SYR Panik, (1) (Namestnikov, Sergeev), 11:39 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (14) (Landry, Mormina), 7:07
SYR Langelier-Parent, (1) (Richard, Rankin), 12:54
York, Jon DiSalvatore, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. It was a game where almost all of the Crunch's struggling offensive stars, namely Namestnikov and Richard Panik, broke out. More than that, they even got contributions from the likes of Luke Witkowski and Maxim Langelier-Parent, in the form of both young men's first AHL goals. It's they kind of performance this team desperately needed to get their confidence back.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Luke Witkowski has learned many lessons in the first half of his rookie season.
The defenseman is surrounded by quality teachers, whether its a coaching staff with decades of experience in professional hockey or the many veterans that dot the Syracuse Crunch lineup.
But sometimes, the best lessons are taught through personal experience.
“These guys help him and we try to help him as much as possible, but I think sometimes you have to live through some of those mistakes,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. “You can tell a guy to move the puck quickly as much as you want, but sometimes he has to learn the hard way and get caught doing it.”
The teams will square off again Saturday night.
Game recap from Syracusecrunch.com.
Rob Zettler's first win allows Syracuse to keep pace in the East.
Riku Helenius allowed just 1 goal on 20 shots for the big win. Once again, he's eased his season save percentage up to .900.
SYR Cote, (3) (Devos, Hutchings), 10:07
HER Crabb, (2) (Taffe, Schmidt), 19:05
SYR Palat, (12) (Richard, Sexton), 3:50
Ondrej Palat and J.P. Cote were the game's first and second stars.
This is how Syracuse has to scratch out wins with their finishers called up to Tampa Bay. It's got to be low scoring games and finding a way to get key goals at key times. Providence and Springfield won tonight, and Binghamton is going down late to Norfolk. If that holds, that will leave Syracuse 2 points behind Providence for tops in the East and 2 points clear of Binghamton for the East Division lead. Syracuse's last road game of the regular season is Tuesday against Lake Erie. They'll end with 5 straight at home, which might be edge they need to take the top spot in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's all still sinking in for Tanner Richard.
After finishing up his first practice with the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday afternoon, the 2012 third-rounder -- one of two draftees signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday -- was just beginning to take in his new surroundings.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook since Monday,” Richard said. “It just doesn't stop beeping. Every time I look there's 15 or 20 messages from Facebook and Twitter and everything. Honestly, I'm trying to soak it all in and have a good time."
Richard wasn’t the only fresh face getting acquainted to a new team at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Defenseman Luke Witkowski (pictured), a sixth-round pick in 2008 who finished up his senior season at Western Michigan University, also donned a Crunch sweater for the first time.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in 38 games as a captain with the Western Michigan University Broncos in 2012-13, recording two goals and 10 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes while being named Second-Team All-CCHA. He led the Broncos with 53 blocked shots and ranked second for penalty minutes. Witkowski also added two power-play tallies.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski played in 152 games during his four-year career at Western Michigan. He accumulated seven goals and 38 points with 235 penalty minutes. He won the 2010-11 Bill Saunders Plus/Minus Award for finishing with the Broncos’ best plus/minus rating at plus-13.
Prior to attending Western Michigan, Wikowski played for the Fargo Force and the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL. He amassed nine goals and 26 assists in two USHL seasons. Witkowski was named to the 2009 USHL All-Star Team.
Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted he has attended four Lightning Development Camps.