Not as close as the score indicates.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 28 shots in the loss.
05:05 TB Craig (1), (Hall, Pettinger)
06:41 TB Prospal (8), (Lecavalier)
14:46 CAR Williams (2), (Brind'Amour, Seidenberg)(PP)
15:57 CAR Larose (9), (Seidenberg, Pitkanen)
06:21 CAR Pitkanen (4), (Williams, Whitney)
The Lightning could only muster 19 shots in the game, and after a good first 10 minutes the team was completely dominated by Carolina.
Ty Wishart was -1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 7:53. He looked lost, tenatative, and slow. He's not ready for primetime.
Matt Smaby had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:50. His mistakes were a bit more pronounced in this game.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot in 10:47. He's sort of fallen off the face of the earth since his big game against Pittsburgh.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot and 2 penalty minutes in 10:47, and 3 giveaways. Athletically he's capable of playing at the NHL level. Metally, he's not there yet.
Steven Stamkos was 50% on draws in 9:50. Non-factor.
The Lightning injury problems trickle down to the farm.
NOR Lundin, (1) (Gratton, Henley), 13:25
WOR Armstrong, (11) (Wilson, Kaspar), 18:58 (PP)
WOR Armstrong, (12) (Desjardins, Westgarth), 2:47
WOR Fornataro, (2) (Vesce, Traverse), 14:37
WOR Vesce, (11) (Desjardins, Greiss), 19:26 (SH)
WOR Armstrong, (13) (Desjardins, Lemieux), 16:40 (PP)
The Admirals were in a very tough spot with Vladimir Mihalik and Matt Smaby up in Tampa and Andy Rogers still hurt. Outside of Mike Lundin they had rookie Darryl Boyle, rookie Scott Jackson, virtual rookie Kevin Quick, and two converted ex-defensemen in Brent Henley and Jay Rosehill. Between that and some flukey goals by the Sharks and the Admirals were in a really tough position.
Why not Ty Wishart, you ask? Erik Erlendsson reports with Lukas Krajicek and Paul Ranger still hurt and Jamie Heward having had his clock cleaned in Washington, Wishart will make his NHL debut Saturday night against Carolina. Andrej Meszaros may have to play 30-35 minutes tomorrow night.
1/3 Update: Wishart has been recalled by Tampa Bay.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Thin Lightning defensive corps gets thinned out even more.
Mike Smith allowed 7 goals on 35 shots in the loss.
03:58 WSH Collins (1), (Ovechkin, Morrisonn)
08:02 WSH Steckel (5), (Bradley, Jurcina)
18:29 WSH Green (9), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
00:58 TB Lecavalier (15), (Prospal, St. Louis)
02:37 TB Malone (9), (Halpern)
02:48 WSH Bradley (4), (Gordon)
19:44 TB Lecavalier (16), (Prospal, St. Louis)
08:07 WSH Gordon (5), (unassisted)
12:22 TB Recchi (9), (St. Louis, Meszaros)
12:47 WSH Clark (1), (Nylander, Green)
18:14 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Backstrom)
Paul Ranger and Lukas Krajicek were already scratches when Jamie Heward got sent to the hospital in the third period with a concussion. It left the Lightning with an incredibly short bench at the end of the game, with the coaching staff not having much confidence in recall Vladimir Mihalik.
Matt Smaby was -2 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:22. He has 13 hits in his last two games. That's something, although he was also on the ice for five Capitals goals (albeit, he was saddled with Eminger as a pairing partner).
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 15:13.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 13:22. He saw precious little ice though after Heward went down, which is telling.
Steven Stamkos was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit and he was 50% on draws in 12:20.
I think you ball this one up and forget about it, considering all the injuries and other odd circumstances. The good news is: Lecavalier and St. Louis woke up.
Ou est Lecavalier et St. Louis?
Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 30 shots, but then allowed both Montreal shooters to score in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss.
13:18 TB Prospal (7), (Malone, St. Louis)(PP)
00:46 MTL Latendresse (5), (Lapierre, Kostopoulos)
MTL- Kovalev, Lapierre
The Lightning's best players tonight were, in no partocular order, Smith, Ryan Malone, Andrej Meszaros, and Evgeny Artyukhin. Absent from that list? Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. It's not rocket science: if those two don't score, the Lightning are going to struggle to defeat quality opponents like Montreal. They're getting excellent goaltending and some secondary scoring. Heck, they're even getting some inspired play from their defensemen at times. So now it's up to Lecavalier and St. Louis. They need to turn up the volume over the next two months to get this team over the hump.
It was nauseating to be outnumbered by Canadiens fans in our own barn. They were well behaved, at least. I mean, I wasn't stepping over drunks and weaving between fist fights like I would if we were invaded by Flyers fans. Still, I would've loved nothing better than to answer their annoying little "Go Habs Go" chant with a little "Go Home Habs."
Matt Smaby had a team high 7 hits in 15:47 filling some of the ice time vacated by a scratched Marek Malik. He did some good things. He's looked better in this recall; good enough for me to think that maybe he needs to replace Jamie Heward on the roster. He made some mistakes again, sure. But, like I said after the last game, as long as they are mistakes of aggression I'm more willing to live with them. And, it's not like his veteran bretheren on the Lightning blueline don't make mistakes in their own rights. Steve Eminger is working hard to make me go gray early in life by backing off shooters and routinely letting them walk the puck into the slot.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 hit and was 57% on draws in 10:34. He's taken a bit of a step back since that amazing game against the Pens.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot, 2 hits, and was 67% on draws in 11:45. He had one really awful power play shift in the third period. Other than that I thought he was ok.
The Lightning are finally starting to establish an identity in the post-Tortorella era.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 29 shots in the win.
07:06 TB Stamkos (4), (Smaby, Jokinen)
14:03 TB Artyukhin (3), (Recchi, Jokinen)(PP)
03:09 FLA Booth (13), (unassisted)
04:52 TB Lecavalier (13), (St. Louis, Malone)
16:27 FLA Horton (7), (Stillman, Weiss)(PP)
16:53 FLA Booth (14), (Frolik, McCabe)(PP)
19:54 TB Lecavalier (14), (St. Louis, Malone)
04:42 TB Malone (8), (St. Louis, Ranger)
07:46 TB St. Louis (13), (Lecavalier, Malone)
13:57 FLA Weiss (6), (Booth)
I haven't seen a Lightning team play this physical is about 12.5 years. You can see, it's starting to sink in and become the new identity of this team. Rick Tocchet has found a real nice energy line with Artyukhin, Szczechura, and Pettinger, and he's got some other bangers like Hall and it's starting to get contagious. I noticed Andrej Meszaros and Mark Recchi starting to take the body more recently and tonight, my goodness, Vaclav Prospal was in seek and destroy mode on a couple of plays. When you start getting a finesse playmaker like Prospal to lower the boom, you've got something cooking.
The other side of the equation, as I said last night, is that the first line has to get cooking, and they did tonight. The Lightning are getting secondary contributions, but they're meaningless unless Lecavalier and St. Louis can manufacture a couple of goals themselves between them on a nightly basis. Lecavalier's goal late in the second period settling down his tee shot off a Marty St. Louis rebound was a big, big goal; maybe the biggest of the year thus far.
The Lightning are now 6 games under .500 and I think they now need to go into the same mode Norfolk is in: try to get this thing back to .500 over the next month or so and then go from there.
Matt Smaby had 1 assist, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 12:57 tonight. He made some mistakes, but they were mistakes of aggression, which I think the coaching staff is more able to live with than passive mistakes.
Paul Szczechura had 4 shots, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 10:08.
Steven Stamkos had 1 goal, and was +1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and he was 60% on draws. He might've stolen Smaby's first NHL goal from him on the tap in (Smaby got his first NHL point on the resulting assist). As with Smaby, Stamkos isn't playing perfect, but he's at least playing aggressive. Controlled aggression: that's what this team's motto needs to be.