8th place and 1 game over .500. If they can stay in 8th place or better (preferably better) up to the All-Star break, the Lightning will be set up well for the stretch run.
Johan Holmqvist stopped just 18 of 22 shots faced for the win. I thought Johan was subpar tonight and wonder if Denis will get back in Saturday in Buffalo. Vincent Lecavalier was MVP caliber tonight scoring 2 goals and 1 assist while his linemates Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal had 1 goal and 1 assist and 1 goal and 2 assists respectively. The names on the Caps may change, but those three when together always seem to dominate Washington, and Lecavalier should've had the hat trick on an empty net bid set up by St. Louis to put the cherry on top. Dan Boyle had 2 assists while Ryan Craig had the game's opening goal on a crafty wraparound. Eric Perrin and Cory Sarich each had individual assists.
Nick Tarnasky played his 40th game of the season tonight and will graduate from prospect status by site criteria Saturday against Buffalo. On a side note, I though Nick played one of his better games in his brief NHL career tonight. Torts must've agreed, because Nick got over eleven and a half minutes of ice time tonight in what was a 1 goal game or tied the entire night.
The win moves the Lightning into 8th in Eastern Conference by virtue of their tiebreaker advantage over Toronto in wins. They also move to within 10 points of Atlanta in the Southeast Division. They would've moved to within 4 points on second place Carolina, except the Panthers (who can do absolutely nothing right and need to be contracted by the league) blew a 3 goal third period lead to lose 6-4. Great move running off Luongo, South Florida.
The Buffalo game on Saturday shapes up as another big one for two reasons: 1.) To continue the momentum from the past three games, and by momentum I mean winning streak, 2.) To gain the confidence only beating the best team in the East and one which has spanked the Lightning regularly over the past two seasons. A win in Buffalo's barn might very well get the Lightning's swagger back.
Tampa Bay 4:54, Ryan Craig 11 (Eric Perrin)
Washington 7:01, Alexander Semin 23 (power play) (Brian Pothier, Alexander Ovechkin)
Tampa Bay 8:46, Vincent Lecavalier 25 (Vaclav Prospal, Dan Boyle)
Washington 5:40, Alexander Semin 24 (Lawrence Nycholat, Matt Pettinger)
Washington 10:02, Ben Clymer 6 (Donald Brashear)
Tampa Bay 11:15, Vaclav Prospal 6 (Cory Sarich, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 12:24, Vincent Lecavalier 26 (Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle)
Washington 19:50, Chris Clark 15 (Alexander Ovechkin, Brian Pothier)
Tampa Bay 3:22, Martin St. Louis 28 (Vaclav Prospal)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
One other thing I forgot to add: Andre Roy did a fantastic job holding his own in a fight against Donald Brashear in the second period. The Lightning haven't had anybody do that against a top heavyweight in forever, and that also helps you get your swagger back in a way.
Would have really been nice to hold onto this one in regulation and deny Pittsburgh the point.
Johan Holmqvist was outstanding in stopping 20 of 22 shots faced in regulation and overtime before stopping 3 of 3 penalty shots in the shootout. Ryan Craig led the way offensively with 1 goal and 1 assist and the Lightning got their other goal from The Real Secret Weapon, Nick Tarnasky. Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards all had assists. St. Louis also scored the game winning shootout goal on an unorthodox move going sideways in the slot and potting a backhand 5-hole on M.A. Fleury.
Really a strange game that the Lightning could've buried the Pens in regulation in were it not for M.A. Fleury. You know it's a strange night when Lecavalier gets stoned on two breakaways and a shootout attempt but Tarnasky can pot a nice goal on a good high shot from the middle of the slot. The Lightning move to 1 game under .500 and to within 2 points of 8th in the conference.
Tampa Bay 7:09, Ryan Craig 10 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier)
Pittsburgh 19:55, Sidney Crosby 20 (Mark Recchi)
Tampa Bay 14:04, Nick Tarnasky 2 (Ryan Craig, Brad Richards)
Pittsburgh 17:27, Mark Recchi 10 (power play) (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin)
Tampa Bay- Martin St. Louis
Game sheet from NHL.com.
With the NYR game, I believe Tarnasky now has 30 or 31 NHL games in a single season. Only needs about 10 more to qualify as a prospect graduate.
Name: Nick Tarnasky
Weight: 233 lbs
Acquired: 2003 Entry Draft, 9th Round, 287 Overall
The career of Nick Tarnasky has been a study in exceeding expectations. Despite not being drafted in the WHL Bantam Draft the Rocky Mountain House, Alberta native broke into major junior with the Vancouver Giants at age 17 in 2001-2002. Coming out of the Drayton Valley AJHL program where he had 7 goals and 11 points in 20 games before playing a 10 game stint with the Giants. That January, however, Tarnasky's junior rights were traded to Kelowna of the WHL where he spent half of the 2002-2003 season before being traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. Tarnasky combined for 9 goals and 29 points in 69 games that year and was ranked #166 amongst all North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Service before the Lightning selected him late in the 9th round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. With the Hurricanes Tarnasky finally found a home leading the last place club in scoring with 26 goals and 49 points in 71 games. For his efforts Tarnasky was selected the Hurricanes' player of the year.
Tarnasky was signed in the summer of 2004 at just age 19 and was the youngest member of the Springfield Falcons during the 2004-2005 lockout season. Prior to the season Tarnasky earned rave reviews scoring 1 goal and 3 points in 3 games for the Lightning in the annual Traverse City prospect tournament. In the AHL, Tarnasky joined fellow prospect Ryan Craig as the only two Falcons to suit up and play in all 80 games scoring 7 goals and 17 points with 176 penalty minutes and winning Springfield's True Grit Award when season honors were handed out. When the lockout concluded in the summer of 2005 Tarnasky showed up to Lightning camp in the best shape of any player and was the second to last forward cut from the team. Tarnasky was sent back to Springfield of the AHL where he remained until being recalled along with Evgeny Artyukhin for the Lightning October 20, 2005 game against the Atlanta Thrashers. Tarnasky scored his first NHL point with an assist on November 5th, 2005 against the Toronto Maple Leafs but was sent back to Springfield on November 9th.
Pros: Tarnasky has good size and strength and a high fitness level. His skating is somewhat average but he compensates with hustle. Tarnasky loves to hit and work along the wall and do many of the dirty jobs that are necessary on a successful hockey club. His work ethic may be the strongest of any prospect in the Lightning organization and he is an emerging leader amongst the team's youth. He has no problem dropping the gloves to defend his teammates. Has formed a dynamic penalty killing duo this year with fellow prospect Darren Reid.
His understanding of both the offensive and defensive side of the game are still rudimentary. He doesn't have terrible hands as evidenced by his last season of junior, but he hasn't been much of an offensive threat as a pro and likely never will be. His skating still needs some work, particularly his initial burst, if he's going to compete at the NHL level.
The Lightning organization loves Tarnasky and sees him as a regular on their checking lines in the future. His offensive upside is probably very limited, but he could have a long career as a physical energy type player who plays responsible defense and can be used regularly on the penalty kill.
Profile Created 2/14/06 by Pete Choquette
Nick Tarnasky graduated from prospect status on 1/13/07