The Pens get the benefit of the bounce.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 39 shots for the loss. He certainly did everything he could to give the Lightning a chance to win and seems to be getting hot again. A hot Niitty is probably the only chance the Lightning have down the stretch.
TB 8:09, Lecavalier 20 (Fedoruk, Hedman)
PIT 2:20, Dupuis 17 (Staal, Cooke)
PIT 5:17, Gonchar 10 (Crosby, Ponikarovsky)(PP)
The difference in the game was the goofy bounce Pittsburgh got on their first goal and the solid goaltending of Fleury in the first period. It makes you wonder though why this team could play poorly and lose in overtime against the worst team in the conference (Toronto) and then turn around and beat the best (Washington) and take the defending champs (Pittsburgh) to the brink. If they played with the same intensity they did in the first period of this game, they'd be sitting on 80-90 points in the standings already. That's frustrating in the near term, as this team's playoff chances are becoming slim. In the long term Lightning fans should take heart. A young team like this is going to figure that out, and have the chance to be an elite team when they do.
Congratulations to Vincent Lecavalier on his 10th straight 20 goal season. That's 10 straight seasons of excellence, no matter how you slice it.
Also, congratulations to Steven Stamkos for making Matt Cooke a stain on the ice during a third period power play. Now that's young leadership you can believe in.
Paul Szczechura had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 13:01. He was also 56% on draws and almost had the first goal of the game on a 2-on-1 feed from Lecavalier that was turned aside by Fleury. I must apologize to Szczechura for missing that his last game against the Caps (3-12-10) marked his graduation from prospect status on Bolt Prospects. So, he got an extra night of coverage tonight so that we can extend congratulations to him on becoming a full-time NHLer with 41 and now 42 games played this season. He'll likely be the last graduate of the 2009/2010 class that included Downie, Hedman, and Wright already.
The patient has a pulse.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory. It's amazing what a difference goaltending makes, isn't it?
WSH 16:54, Fleischmann 20 (Ovechkin, Knuble)(PP)
TB 19:11, Bochenski 2 (Fedoruk, Lundin)
TB 11:30, Walker 2 (Veilleux, Thompson)
TB 15:12, Lecavalier 19 (Walker, Purcell)
WSH 11:09, Laich 21 (Green, Ovechkin)(PP)
Strange to see the rare game where the Lightning don't get a goal from the power play or #91, and it happens to be a big win.
Paul Szczechura had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 11:06. He was also 33% on draws.
The season is officially on life support.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 38 shots for the overtime loss. My kingdom for a netminder who could manage to play 60 minutes and stop at least 90% of the pucks he faces.
TB 18:17, Stamkos 42 (Foster, Lecavalier)(PP)
TOR 9:29, Stalberg 4 (Caputi, Schenn)
TOR 16:17, Stalberg 5 (Caputi, Grabovski)
TB 16:41, Foster 8 (Stamkos, St. Louis)
TOR 3:37, Bozak 5 (Kessel, Kulemin)
TB 5:00, Downie 17 (Lundin, St. Louis)
TOR 3:33, Kessel 23 (Bozak)
The Lightning did pick up a point. But, it's an ominous sign when you can't beat the worst team in the conference on a night where you know you absolutely know you must have the two points. The scary thing is that, with Carolina getting so hot, there's even a chance the Lightning could finish in the division basement. The Lightning are tied with Atlanta at 66 points and both Florida and Carolina are just behind the team at 64 points. It's pretty bad right now.
To tell the truth, if I was Jeffrey Vinik, I don't think I'd spare anyone on the hockey operations side right now, other than maybe the amateur scouts. Whether you're on Team Brian or Team Rick, it doesn't matter. When you crash and burn this hard, everyone's job needs to be under scrutiny.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:29. He was also 36% on draws.
Unless the Lightning play Atlanta 10 more times this season, things are looking grim.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before giving way to Mike Smith who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots the rest of the way. At least Smitty didn't get stuck with the back door loss.
MTL 2:50, Metropolit 15 (Gomez, Spacek)(PP)
MTL 12:02, Gomez 12 (unassisted)
TB 3:47, Stamkos 41 (unassisted)(PP)
MTL 4:28, Pouliot 16 (Gomez)
MTL 7:33, Darche 4 (Metropolit, Markov)
TB 10:03, Walker 1 (Parrish, Veilleux)
MTL 3:26, Darche 5 (Plekanec, Markov)
TB 18:53, St. Louis 24 (Stamkos, Foster)
Bolt Prospects alumni and former overage prospect graduate Mathieu Darche is vengeful against his ex mates. Cold blooded.
Paul Szczechura was -2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:31. He was also 44% on draws.
This just in: Niitty still owns the Thrashers.
Antero Niittymaki found Atlanta to be the perfect elixer for his ills, stopping 29 of 31 shots to move to 17-0-0 lifetime against the Thrashers. It's hilarious.
ATL 3:22, Bergfors 18 (Little, Antropov)
TB 8:47, St. Louis 23 (Stamkos, Downie)
TB 13:06, Stamkos 39 (Foster, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 17:00, Szczechura 3 (Bochenski, Tanguay)
ATL 13:37, Armstrong 11 (Artyukhin, Peverley)
TB 16:36, Purcell 4 (PS)
TB 4:01, Lecavalier 18 (St. Louis, Purcell)
TB 16:19, Stamkos 40 (Szczechura, Bochenski)
It may have been a costly win with Martin St. Louis getting waffled in a third period scrum. It sure looked like a concussion to me. Hopefully he'll only miss a game or two, but a game or two may be the difference between being a playoff team or a lottery pick.
By the way, huge demerits to Darren Eliot and the Thrashers' broadcasters, who claimed St. Louis' injury was fair retribution for a hit that Steve Downie put on Marty Reasoner. No, Darren, one of Downie's skates was still on the ice. You need to seek counseling for the world class hate-on you have for #9. Give the devil his due, Darren. Downie's got a good chance to be a 20 goal, 50 point, 200 PIM player by season's end. Those don't grow on trees, and if he were to be on the open market tomorrow there would be 29 teams lining up to get his services, including the same Atlanta Thrashers your sanctimonious rear end broadcasts for. Don't believe it? Ask your buddy Don Waddell about that class act Patrice Cormier he picked up in the Kovalchuk trade.
Say what you want about Downie, he's never almost killed a young man whilst cheap shotting him. No, wait, let me guess: Cormier's hit can be rationalized away as fair retaliation too, right? You have no right to lecture people about dirty play when you celebrate talentless clods like Eric Boulton and suck up to a GM who acquires a guy who should be behind bars like Patrice Cormier (And, Waddell still doesn't have a playoff win in the roughly dozen years he's been on the job. Don't you wish you could stink out loud at your job for over a decade and still draw a six-figure salary?). Seriously. The Thrashers organization and an emphasis on acquiring players with character have never been in the same room together, much like Eliot and objectivity and/or humility have never been in the same area code.
Stepping down from my soapbox: I'm liking the Teddy Purcell pickup. If they can get him on the same weight training program as Stamkos and Downie, he could be an awesome pickup. That penalty shot goal was stylish. Speaking of Stamkos, I joked at the start of this week he might have 40 goals by the end of the week. 5 goals later, he sits at 40 goals, which is a plateau only Sid Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have reached so far this season. And yes, as a goal scorer, Stammer is absolutely in that class. I was also asked if I thought Stammer could hit 50. Yes, in all seriousness, I think he can.
Oh look, we have a prospect again! Paul Szczechura had the game winning goal, a helper, and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 64% on draws in the 13:20 he played. That may have been his second best game as a pro, bested only by that game last year where he essentially beat the Pittsbugh Penguins by himself. He's 10 games short of graduation on Bolt Prospects, and if he keeps playing like that, he'll get his cap and gown before season's end.
Five straight wins at home for the Admirals.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 28 shots before stopping 2 out of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win. Janus moved his record to above .500 for the season at 7-6-0 with the win, and he's riding a personal 5 game winning streak.
ALB Terry, (14) (FitzGerald), 3:47
NOR Hall, (12) (Tyrell, Craig), 9:59
NOR Keller, (13) (Mihalik, Tyrell), 16:07 (PP)
ALB McBain, (6) , 0:26
ALB- Terry, McBain
NOR- Keller, Jones, Fornataro, Fadden
In a stunning development, Juraj Simek, the Don of the Presov Mafia, was stopped for the first time all season in the shootout. He was the one and only Admiral to fail to convert on Justin Pogge. With a pair of assists, Dana Tyrell had his 5th multi-point game in his last 11 games, and he's on a 3-game point streak. Vladimir Mihalik notched his 6th point in his last 12 games and has matched his season total for point from a year ago and is 1 point shy of his career best AHL season. Paul Szczechura is about to be recalled to Tampa Bay and did not play tonight.
The win moves the Admirals to within 1 point of Albany for 2nd place in the East Division with the Rats holding 1 game in hand. The Admirals will give the Rats a rematch tomorrow night at The Scope, and a regulation win could move Norfolk into 2nd place all by themselves in the division. Fourth place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is losing 4-1 to Syracuse in the third period. If that holds up, Norfolk will move 7 points up on the Penguins with the Pens holding 3 games in hand. 5th place Adirondack lost to Rochester 5-2 and, if the Crunch's score holds up, they'll be tied with Syracuse at 12 points behind the Admirals with each team holding 3 games in hand on Norfolk. Bolt Prospects has declared the Binghamton Senators deceased.
In the crossover, Bridgeport beat Portland 5-4, Providence fell to Manchester 2-1, and the Hartford Wolf Pack were idle. So, the Admirals remain 5 points up on the 5th place team in the Atlantic (Bridgeport), move 7 points up on the 6th place team (Providence) with the Bruins holding 2 games in hand, and the Admirals move 11 points up on 7th place Hartford with the Pack holding 3 games in hand. If the Admirals were to fall to 4th in the East Division, they would have to finish ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic to make the postseason.
It's an epic clash tomorrow between the Admirals and the Rats with 2nd place in the division potentially up for grabs.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk brought out the big 16 inch main guns tonight, and blasted Hartford into oblivion.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 3 goals on 24 shots and bathed in sweet, sweet goal support for the victory.
NOR Simek, (16) (Jones, Tyrell), 11:57
NOR Bochenski, (17) , 14:49 (PP)
HFD Dupont, (11) (Nightingale, Roche), 16:19
NOR Hall, (10) (Craig, McGinnis), 0:53
NOR Lashoff, (6) (Szczechura, Bochenski), 12:07 (PP)
NOR Jackson, (1) (Bochenski, Parrish), 17:52
NOR Craig, (17) (Tyrell, Lashoff), 1:18
HFD Crowder, (11) , 12:45
NOR Wishart, (8) (Szczechura, Lashoff), 17:37 (PP)
HFD Nightingale, (2) (Owens, Brashear), 19:45
Brandon Bochenski, Ryan Craig, and Matt Lashoff were the game's three stars. It's a shame the Admirals can't keep all this weaponry past the end of the Olympic break, because they're terrifying now that they've got Parrish and Bochenski in the fold, Lashoff is playing better, and guys like Tyrell and Fadden are starting to show their potential. Bochenski set the all-time Norfolk Admirals record for goals scored in the AHL with his first period marker.
Norfolk outshot Hartford 45-24 in the game. Awesome.
Ty Wishart is now up to 8 goals and 25 points for the season. The goal of a 30 point season is in the crosshairs.
Paul Szczechura has 1 goal and 9 points in 9 games since being sent back down to Norfolk, including 3 multi-point games in his last 5 outings.
Juraj Simek, the Don of the Presov Mafia, has goals in 4 of the past 5 games and 4 goals and 6 points in his past 6.
Tyrell has 2 multi-point games in his past 3 outings and 1 goal and 5 points in his past 4.
Lashoff has 2 goals and 7 points in his last 6 games.
Norfolk moves back to within 4 points of Albany for 2nd place in the East Division with the Rats holding 1 game in hand by virtue of their victory and Albany getting pasted 9-2 tonight by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The 4th place Pens are 4 points behind Norfolk with 2 games in hand. Norfolk is also 6 points up on 5th place Adirondack with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. 6th place Syracuse is 8 points back with 2 games in hand. Last place Binghamton is fading, 11 points back of Norfolk with 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Norfolk holds a 3 point lead over Providence, Hartford, and Bridgeport with the Bruins holding 2 games in hand and the Wolf Pack and Sound Tigers each with 1 game in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
No Lashoff? No Parrish? No problem.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win. He's now 5-6-1 on the season with 1 shutout, a 2.01 GAA, and a rock solid .925 sv%. He's actually got better numbers than Tokarski.
LOW Palmieri, (18) (Vasyunov, Walter), 12:48
NOR Fornataro, (7) (Craig, Fadden), 17:33
NOR Simek, (15) (Szczechura), 12:16
NOR Craig, (15) (Tyrell, Szczechura), 17:25
NOR Craig, (16) (Fadden, Wishart), 18:39 (PP)
NOR Mihalik, (1) (Tyrell, Hall), 16:01
Ryan Craig, Paul Szczechura, and Vladimir Mihalik were the game's three stars. It was another banner night for the Presov Mafia between Janus' win, and both Juraj Simek, and Mihalik's goals. Mihalik's marker was his first of the season, and with a +3 night he jumped to +1 for the season.
Lowell got former Lightning d-man Cory Murphy back for this game, so they dressed 5 natural defensemen for this game rather than the 4 from last night, but it didn't matter. Even with Matt Lashoff out for a second straight game attending to family matters and Mark Parrish held out, presumably for a recall to the Lightning, the Admirals still dominated the Devils.
Norfolk remains in 3rd place in the East Division, 4 points behind 2nd place Albany, which dismantled Binghamton 7-0 tonight. Albany holds 1 game in hand. They widened their lead on 4th place Adirondack to 6 points after the Phantoms fell to Portland 5-4. Adirondack has 3 games in hand. They are now tied at 52 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after the Penguins upset Hershey 5-0 tonight. So the Pens are 6 points back of Norfolk with 2 games in hand. In 6th place is Syracuse, which lost 2-0 tonight to Manchester. They're 8 points behind Norfolk with 2 games in hand. All the way in 7th place in Bighamton, which is now 11 points back of Norfolk with 5 games in hand.
Norfolk's win moves them 1 point ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division, so the Admirals are starting to take the crossover off the table. Even if they finish 3rd in the East Division, finishing ahead of the crossover 5th place Atlantic team is critical for the Admirals if they want to avoid a date with Hershey in the first round of the playoffs. 5th in the Atlantic is now a 3-way logjam with Providence, Hartford, and Bridgeport all at 57 points. Providence knocked off Springfield 3-1 tonight and Bridgeport beat Hartford 6-4 to create the three team pile-up. Both Providence and Hartford have 1 game in hand on Norfolk.
Norfolk's next game is on Monday, which will be an epic clash in Albany against the River Rats. An Admirals win could pull the team to within 2 points of 2nd place in the East Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jim Johnson is 7-0-1-1 as Head Coach.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win.
HFD Locke, (20) (Byers, Nightingale), 0:52 (SH)
NOR Fadden, (3) (Fornataro, Wishart), 11:56 (PP)
HFD Roche, (2) (Grachev, Nightingale), 8:45
NOR Keller, (8) (McGinnis, Szczechura), 16:55
NOR Szczechura, (7) (Lashoff, Simek), 3:50
After a slow start in the first period, the Admirals outshot Hartford 34-17 from the second period on. The only downside of the night is that they surrendered a point in the standings to Hartford, which still presents a crossover problem from the Atlantic Division.
Norfolk still holds 3rd place in East Division with 52 points, and is now 1 game over .500. They have gained 2 points on 2nd place Albany and are now 5 points back of the River Rats with Albany holding a game in hand. They remain 2 points ahead of 4th place Adirondack and 5th place Syracuse with the Phantoms holding 2 games in hand. They gained 2 points on 6th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which is now 4 points back with the Pens holding 2 games in hand. The Admirals also maintained their 8 point lead on last place Binghamton with the Sens still holding 4 games in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
After being reassigned to the Norfolk Admirals at the beginning of the week on a conditioning assignment, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed prospect forward Paul Szczechura on waivers on Thursday. Szczechura cleared waivers at noon on Friday and will remain with the Norfolk Admirals.
Szczechura has 6 goals and 8 assists in 16 games with the Admirals this season, while scoring twice and adding an assist in 37 games with the Lightning.