Craig, Ryan

NHL Game Night 3/31: Capitals at Lightning

If Vincent Lecavalier played in a bigger market, there'd be no doubt who the MVP would be this season.

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 23 of 25 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier had 1 goal and 2 assists to boost his season point total to 106. If you had a fever that high, you'd be dead. Dan Boyle had 1 goal and 1 assist and is now just one goal shy of the difficult to reach 20 goal mark for a defenseman. Also with 1 goal (shorthanded) and 1 assist Martin St. Louis goes into triple digits with a sick but still non-lethal 101. And, Cory Sarich had a multi-point night with 2 assists?!?!? Stock up on canned goods, people. Ryan Craig and Jason Ward had the other Lightning goals with individual helpers going to Paul Ranger, Andreas Karlsson, Filip Kuba and Vaclav Prospal.

With the win the Lightning keep pace with Atlanta three points back in the division with their head-to-head match up still on tap in the season finale. They gain two points on the Islanders, who lost tonight, and maintain their gap on victorious Toronto, Montreal and the Rangers.

Some numbers to consider as we enter the waning games of the season:
-As mentioned, with one more goal Dan Boyle will reach 20 goals for a defenseman.
-With 4 more points, Filip Kuba would reach the 40 point plateau. Difficult, but not impossible.
-Despite missing almost 10 games with a knee injury, Paul Ranger is 3 points shy of the 30 point plateau. Also difficult, but not impossible.
-Netminder Johan Holmqvist recorded his 26th win of the season last night. Even if the Lightning run the table, he cannot reach 30 wins. Darn the flu.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/20: Panthers at Lightning

Got away with murder.

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Marc Denis was just short of amazing in this game stopping 29 of 32 shots faced in regulation and overtime before stopping 2 of 3 penalty shots for the shootout victory. We'll put the save he made on Jokinen up once it gets youtubed. Save of the year. Ryan Craig and Martin St. Louis had the Lightning's goals. Andreas Karlsson, Doug Janik, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier had helpers. Richards and St. Louis scored in the shootout.

And the Lightning deserved squat tonight. They only showed up for about 15 of the 65 minutes of hockey played tonight and they're lucky, lucky, lucky that A.) Marc Denis looked like Patrick Roy redux tonight and B.) the Panthers are a Mickey Mouse Junior B team masquerading as an NHL franchise. Kudos to the Lightning for wounding Panthers color man Denis Potvin's inner child by stealing the 2 points tonight after Potvin practically gloated for 2 1/2 periods about the Panthers' play. All in favor of Potvin and Carolina color man Tripp Tracey getting rear ended while carpooling in a pre-recall 1978 Pinto, say aye.

Speaking of which, in Carolina, Atlanta defeated the defending champs 3-1 to keep pace with the Lightning at 71 points with Tampa holding a game in hand.

First Period
Tampa Bay 2:15, Ryan Craig 13 (Andreas Karlsson, Doug Janik)
Florida 5:30, Nathan Horton 20 (unassisted)

Second Period
Florida 10:53, Nathan Horton 21 (Martin Gelinas, Bryan Allen)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 7:43, Martin St. Louis 36 (power play) (Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
Florida: Horton
Tampa Bay: Richards, St. Louis

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/9: Lightning at Rangers

After winning 7 straight on the road, I suppose they were due for a stinker.

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Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 16 shots before being pulled in the loss. It wasn't under the best of circumstances, obviously, but tonight was Holmqvist's 30th decision of the season which graduated him by site criteria. Holmqvist has been moved to the Bolt Prospects Alumni section on the Prospects page.

Kudos to Ryan Craig for defending Blair Jones after Ryan Hollweg decided to try to knee the rookie. Craig is a man. The Lightning fail to keep pace with Atlanta and are now 7 points behind Atlanta, but still hold a game in hand.

First Period
NY Rangers 4:28, Colton Orr 1 (Fedor Tyutin, Blair Betts)
NY Rangers 11:32, Marcel Hossa 4 (Michal Rozsival, Martin Straka)

Second Period
NY Rangers 8:28, Ryan Hollweg 1 (Jaromir Jagr)
NY Rangers 14:25, Sean Avery 11 (Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan)

Third Period
NY Rangers 3:32, Jaromir Jagr 21 (Martin Straka)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/6: Kings at Lightning

And now it's 5 points.

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 31 shots before stopping 1 of 2 shooters in the shootout for the win. King Holmer's perfection on a shot by shot basis goes by the board, but he still has yet to be bested by another goaltender in the penalty shot session. The Lightning's goals came from Vincent Lecavalier and Blair Jones, with Jones' goal being the first of his young NHL career. Ryan Craig, Brad Richards, Andre Roy and Tim Taylor had individual assists. The Lightning were a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout with goals from the big three: Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis.

Jones was +1 in 7:03 tonight with 1 shot, 1 hit and 2 takeaways. He was 1 for 2 on draws as well.

With the Lightning's win and Atlanta's shootout loss tonight the Lightning have moved to within 5 points of the division lead with a game in hand. The Lightning also have moved within 2 points of 4th place Montreal which lost to Carolina tonight.

First Period
Tampa Bay 2:23, Vincent Lecavalier 34 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 4:18, Blair Jones 1 (Andre Roy, Tim Taylor)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
Los Angeles 1:13, Mike Weaver 1 (Derek Armstrong, Dustin Brown)
Los Angeles 7:41, Mike Weaver 2 (Brian Willsie, Anze Kopitar)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
Los Angeles- Kopitar
Tampa Bay- Lecavalier, Richards, St. Louis

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/3: Rangers at Lightning

Think Atlanta is starting to hear footsteps?

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 24 of 26 shots faced in the win and has won 8 of his last 9 starts. King Holmer officially en fuego. Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis each had a pair of assists on the night with the Lightning goals belonging to Paul Ranger, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier (Lecavalier and Richards' goals being of the blistering/unstoppable power play variety). Eric Perrin and Ryan Craig added individual helpers.

The Lightning are cooler than the other side of the pillow in one goal games right now. It took a while for this team to find its confidence, but right now they've got swagger. And, don't look now, but by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to Philly the Lightning have now moved within six points of the division lead with a game still in hand. Furthermore, the Lightning have now tied the Thrashers with 29 wins and, looking at the schedule, the Lightning get the worst team in the Western Conference Tuesday night (Los Angeles) and the Thrashers get to play the best in the East (Buffalo). This thing could EASILY be down to 4 points with a game in hand if the Lightning stay focused and take care of business against the Kings. If I'm Thrashers GM Don Waddell, I'm having Doctor Feel Good call in a 'scrip for Valium right about now.

This is fun.

First Period
NY Rangers 7:31, Jason Krog 3 (Brendan Shanahan, Marcel Hossa)

Second Period
Tampa Bay 6:51, Paul Ranger 3 (Dan Boyle, Eric Perrin)
Tampa Bay 14:06, Brad Richards 19 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis)
NY Rangers 18:23, Michael Nylander 17 (power play) (Jaromir Jagr, Karel Rachunek)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 11:53, Vincent Lecavalier 33 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Ryan Craig)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/1: Lightning at Hurricanes

Holmer and the road warriors just smacked the champs in the mouth in their own barn. I like it.

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Johan Holmqvist pitches a 31 save shutout for the win. The shutout is the first of Johan's career and he improves his season record to 17-10-0. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier continued on their MVP caliber tears through the NHL with 1 goal and 1 assist each. Vaclav Prospal added 2 assists of his own as well. The other Lightning goals came from Ryan Craig and Doug Janik. Eric Perrin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Richards added individual helpers.

The well oiled war machine that is the Lightning on the road extended their franchise record winning streak away from the SP Times Forum to 7 straight games. More importantly, the Lightning have caught the Carolina Hurricanes at 58 points with the Lightning still holding a game in hand. And, by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to the Islanders tonight the Lightning are now with single digits of the division leader at 8 points behind. The Lightning still hold a game in hand on Atlanta and, more importantly, have two more head-to-head games left on the schedule for a total of six potential points the Lightning can pick up quickly. I am reminded of 2002-2003 when the Lightning ran down the Washington Capitals from behind like a hungry lion runs down a misfortunate antelope.

If the Lightning can stay focused and remain hot for the next couple of weeks, then the spotlight should fall squarely on GM Jay Feaster. Feaster knows as we all do that the team is just a deal or two away from being a serious title contender. It will be incumbent on him to pull the trigger and hit the right targets to give this team the reinforcements they need. If he does, look out. Dare we use the pun, Lightning could strike twice?

Rookie Blair Jones had 5:39 of ice time tonight and was 40% on draws with 2 penalty minutes (and looked about 1,000,000% more comfortable than last time out).

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
Tampa Bay 15:12, Ryan Craig 12 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 19:23, Doug Janik 2 (Eric Perrin, Vaclav Prospal)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 2:49, Vincent Lecavalier 32 (Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 9:29, Martin St. Louis 32 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 1/30: Lightning at Flyers

All hail King Holmer.

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 32 shots faced in overtime and regulation before stopping 2 of 2 in the shootout to remain a perfect 15 for 15 in the shootout this season. A bit of a softie on the Richardson goal tonight, but Holmqvist made up for it on several stops tonight. This was not necessarily a game the Lightning deserved to win, but as road warriors they've been finding ways to grind out two points out of these games lately. The win is the Lightning's sixth straight road win which is a new team record.

Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning offensively. Ruslan Fedotenko had the other Lightning goal (and played great tonight) and Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle, Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba added individual helpers. Lecavalier and Brad Richards (who also played great tonight) had the Lightning's shootout talleys.

For anyone wondering, Blair Jones played just 4 shifts tonight for 2:36 of ice time. He had 1 blocked shot and was 2-for-2 on faceoffs. His last three shifts he must've been in stealth mode, because his first period shift was the only time I saw him all night.

The win, coupled with a Carolina loss against Toronto tonight, moves the Lightning within 2 points of second place in the Southeast Division with a game in hand and the Hurricanes on the slate for Thursday night. The team also maintains pace with Atlanta 10 points back of the division lead with 1 game in hand on the Thrashers and 2 head-to-head matchups remaining on the schedule. The Lightning can almost certainly make a run at this, especially with the bottomfeeding Panthers on the schedule 5 more times.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
Tampa Bay 6:32, Martin St. Louis 31 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle)
Philadelphia 7:23, Mike Richards 2 (shorthanded) (Alexei Zhitnik, Joni Pitkanen)
Philadelphia 18:49, Jeff Carter 7 (shorthanded) (Simon Gagne, Denis Gauthier)
Tampa Bay 19:24, Ruslan Fedotenko 11 (power play) (Andreas Karlsson, Paul Ranger)

Third Period
Philadelphia 3:13, Peter Forsberg 9 (Joni Pitkanen)
Tampa Bay 12:06, Vincent Lecavalier 31 (Filip Kuba, Martin St. Louis)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
Tampa Bay: Lecavalier, Richards
Philadelphia: NONE

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 1/11: Capitals at Lightning

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.

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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.

First Period
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)

Second Period
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)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 3:22, Martin St. Louis 28 (Vaclav Prospal)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Update:
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.

NHL Game Night 1/7: Lightning at Penguins

Would have really been nice to hold onto this one in regulation and deny Pittsburgh the point.

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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.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
Tampa Bay 7:09, Ryan Craig 10 (power play) (Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier)
Pittsburgh 19:55, Sidney Crosby 20 (Mark Recchi)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 14:04, Nick Tarnasky 2 (Ryan Craig, Brad Richards)
Pittsburgh 17:27, Mark Recchi 10 (power play) (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
Tampa Bay- Martin St. Louis
Pittsburgh- NONE

Game sheet from NHL.com.

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