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Lightning Extend G Eddie Pascale with One-Year, Two-Way Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed goaltender Eddie Pasquale to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Pasquale, 27, appeared in 31 American Hockey League games last season, splitting the season between the Bakersfield Condors and Crunch, posting a record of 16-6-7 to go along with a 2.19 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. In 15 games with Syracuse, the Toronto, Ontario native went 10-1-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. He ranked fourth in the AHL for goals-against average and fifth for save percentage.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound goaltender has played in 226 career AHL games over seven seasons, compiling a record of 110-84-13 to go along with a 2.54 goals-against average and .914 save percentage with 16 shutouts. Pasquale set career bests for goals-against average and save percentage during the 2017-18 season. He helped lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup Championship in 2017.

Pasquale was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round, 117th overall, at the 2009 NHL Draft.

Bolts Deal G Peter Budaj to Kings for F Andy Andreoff

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Andy Andreoff from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Peter Budaj, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Andreoff, 27, appeared in 45 games with the Kings during the 2017-18 season, posting three goals and nine points to go along with 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound forward set career highs for assists (six), shots on goal (47) and game-winning goals (two) last season. Andreoff has skated in 159 career NHL games, all with the Kings, posting 13 goals and 24 points to go along with 214 penalty minutes.

The Pickering, Ontario native has also played in 157 career American Hockey League games, all with Manchester over four seasons, recording 30 goals and 72 points to go along with 259 penalty minutes. Andreoff last played in the AHL during the 2014-15 season when he posted five goals and 10 points in seven games with the Monarchs.

Andreoff was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round, 180th overall, at the 2011 NHL Draft.

Bolts Extend F Carter Verhaeghe on One-Year, Two-Way Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Carter Verhaeghe to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Verhaeghe, 22, played in 58 games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, posting 17 goals and 48 points to go along with 30 penalty minutes. He ranked second on Syracuse for points and was third for goals and assists (31). The Toronto, Ontario native led the Crunch for power-play goals with seven. Verhaeghe also appeared in seven Calder Cup Playoff games, recording a goal and eight points.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward has skated in 135 career AHL games with the Crunch, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Toronto Marlies over four seasons, recording 39 goals and 93 points. Verhaeghe set career highs for games played, goals, assists and points during the 2017-18 season while with the Crunch.

Verhaeghe was acquired by the Lightning from the New York Islanders in exchange for goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis on July 1, 2017.

Lightning Re-Signs Pending RFA Daniel Walcott

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Daniel Walcott to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Walcott, 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, played in 62 games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, recording five goals and 16 points with a plus-5 rating. He also appeared in seven Calder Cup Playoff games in 2018 and recorded an assist.

A native of Ile Perrot, Quebec, Walcott has played in 180 career AHL games with the Crunch and Hartford Wolf Pack. He has amassed 11 goals and 44 points with four game-winning goals. Walcott has also skated in 20 Calder Cup Playoff games, all with Syracuse in the previous two seasons, recording five assists.

The Lightning acquired Walcott’s rights from the New York Rangers on June 1, 2015 in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2015.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-23-18 Capitals at Lightning

Soul searching time in the Lightning organization.

Eastern Conference Final

WSH-4
TB-0

Washington Wins the Series 4-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss. None of the three goals he allowed were soft, but in this moment he's got to make a big situational save on at least one of the Burakovsky breakaways to give his team a chance. This will be an interesting offseason for Andrei, who is renowned for his work ethic. He had an amazing first half, a subpar second half, and an uneven playoffs. It was altogether more good than bad, but I would think he's going to focusing on improving his consistency and some other minor fixes to his game like making sure he stays more upright when he goes down in the butterfly and making sure he consistently pushes out to cut down the angle on shooters.

First Period
1:02 WSH Ovechkin (12), (Kuznetsov, Wilson)

Second Period
8:59 WSH Burakovsky (1), (unassisted)
16:31 WSH Burakovsky (2), (Carlson)

Third Period
16:17 WSH Backstrom (4), (unassisted)

The simplistic thing to do would be to look at the 4-0 score tonight and say the team didn't show up. I already see some national talking heads doing just that on social media. The fact of the matter is that the Lightning were the victim of the cruel hand of the hockey gods at one of the most inopportune moments imaginable. They outshot the Caps 29-23 and I suspect outchanced them by a greater margin. Did they surrender a goal very early in the game? Sure. But that wasn't because of a flat start. Tip your cap to Ovechkin for being a sniper who can pound that shot off the rush without a ton of room to do so. And then tip your cap to Holtby for being able to hold out wave after wave of Lightning chances, even when Holtby himself had no clue where the puck actually was. The greatest frustration of all came in the Second Period, though, when I thought the team had clearly outplayed the Caps only to see Victor Hedman hit a post and Yanni Gourde whiff in front of a wide open net. A freak play by Dan Girardi having to drop a puck that was shot into his body in the neutral zone leading to one breakaway and then a bad defensive pair change leading to a second, and the game was over after two periods even though the Lightning had carried the balance of play. A three goal deficit is a death sentence in pro hockey after two frames, and especially so against a Barry Trotz coached trapping team. Another simplistic reading would be that the Lightning didn't put up a fight in the Third Period. The fact of the matter is you've got a better chance of slaying a Sasquatch than you do clawing back goals when you're that far behind playing against that trap.

What's the lesson we take from all this? Sometimes hockey's unfair. Just like life. More to the point, though, the Lightning actually no-showed Games One, Two, and Six of this series and had to have Vasilevskiy thieve Game Four for them. When you get to this stage of the season against the quality of teams you face in these moments, you can't spot teams games. A veteran laden team like the Lightning, with all their experience, should've known better. But, they mentally sagged after the triumph of slaying rival Boston in the previous rounds, and then checked out after fighting back to put Washington on the brink. These are painful breakdowns in leadership and mental discipline these players are going to have to live with the rest of their lives.

The Lightning organization now finds itself at a bit of a crossroads. It was the best of times, having been to the Eastern Conference Final or further three of the past four season, but it was also the worst of times having come up dry in the pursuit of a championship. Critical questions need to be asked throughout the building on Channelside, beginning with the question of whether this team is in danger of lapsing into the kind of "elite mediocrity" teams like the Caps and Sharks have been trapped in for what seems like a decade. No one can deny that Tampa Bay is a model franchise built to have more deep playoff runs well into the foreseeable future. But, are they constructed to win championships? Are some of the mainstay players on the roster now tainted with the stench of multiple postseason failures to get all the way over the hump? The coaching staff?

I'm not advocating a complete overhaul by any means. I suspect we will shortly learn that certain players like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov who seemingly underperformed over the past few weeks have been hiding significant injuries that have to be weighed in the overall evaluation. But, at the end of the day, this Lightning organization is stocked to the gills with good young players in Syracuse and the junior ranks. A strategic and surgical scrambling of the roster to replace some of those crusty, stale mainstays with exciting new blood is a necessity both from a hockey and a financial standpoint. It's coming. It needs to happen. To put it bluntly, the window is closing on a lot of players who have been cornerstones of the past half decade here, and it shut completely on a few others. Harsh but true.

One other thing I want to mention tonight, only because it irks me for its parallels to the 2011 series against Boston. It frustrates me to no end that the referees made a decision over the past two or three games to completely swallow their whistles. Just as in 2011, it's as if they made a conscious decision that because Tampa Bay's power play was so lethal and therefore each power play had an outsized chance of impacting the outcome of the games that they just weren't going to call anything. "Letting the boys decide it," is an act of moral cowardice by the refs, and despite their thinking that they aren't making a choice by electing to swallow their whistles they are, in fact, choosing to disadvantage the team with the better power play. We saw Yanni Gourde get cross checked in the nose in the First Period in a scrum. No call. We saw Washington play with seven skaters on the ice for a while in the First Period. No call. We saw copious quantities of clutching and grabbing throughout this series that reached epidemic proportions in the first 40 minutes of this game. No calls. I'm not going to sit here and tell you the Lightning also didn't commit infractions that could've been called and weren't because of what the refs chose to do. But the fact of the matter is the Lightning outpossessed Washington by huge proportions for wide swaths of the First and Second Periods, most notably the first five minutes of the Second Period, and there's no way in hell Washington didn't commit a penalty in those spaces of time. A team like Tampa Bay is constructed for possession and to accrue the benefits from that possession that come in the form of, among other things, increased power play time. The decision by the refs, which is a gutless calculation designed to proclaim they didn't favor one team over another, favored the team built for clutching and grabbing that is better built for counter attacking (the Caps) over the possession-oriented team (the Lightning). And that's wrong. It was in 2011 and it is still wrong now.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 hit and was 33% on 6 draws in 13:03. He's become a solid, valuable player for this team and he's still a boy among men. He's got a lot to do to develop a pro body and to work on improving his burst and acceleration so he can dig down and find a top gear when he needs it. He's really smart and has a great work ethic, though, and he should be one of the future leaders of this team.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-21-18 Lightning at Capitals

Desperate Caps outlast Lightning to push series to the limit.

Eastern Conference Final

TB-0
WSH-3

Series Tied 3-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 33 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
15:12 WSH Oshie (6), (Backstrom, Kuznetsov)(PP)

Third Period
10:02 WSH Smith-Pelly (4), (Stephenson, Beagle)
19:10 WSH Oshie (7), (Backstrom)(EN)

At the end of the day, the Caps were the more desperate team with their backs against the wall and it showed in their physical intensity and resolve. The Lightning now have a choice to make. This team had two cracks at eliminating Pittsburgh two years ago and they couldn't get it done. This time they've got Game Seven at home and they've played two less games than the Capitals have in these playoffs and one would argue it will be hard for the Caps to replicate the level of intensity they displayed in Game Six. To me, it really comes down to whether the Lightning make the decision to dig their heels in, focus on the task, and get it done. They should be the fitter team, and the 82 game slog of the regular season was all to give them this opportunity for the fans to have their backs in a critical elimination. They just have to step up and play their best game on Wednesday and they'll be fine.

Anthony Cirelli was scoreless in 13:30. I wonder if he has some kind of nagging injury or the team is just sheltering him because he's taken very few draws the past couple of games.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-19-18 Capitals at Lightning

Tampa Bay's lower lines author a Game Five triumph.

Eastern Conference Final

WSH-2
TB-3

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory. When the time game to make the big situational saves at the end of the game, he was there. You can't help but wonder if 20 years from now we're going to look back at this series as one of the defining mileposts of a special career.

First Period
0:19 TB Paquette (1), (Callahan)
9:04 TB Palat (6), (Kucherov)

Second Period
0:33 TB Callahan (2), (Stralman, Kunitz)
4:21 WSH Kuznetsov (11), (Niskanen, Oshie)

Third Period
18:24 WSH Ovechkin (11), (Carlson, Eller)

Ryan Callahan, Cedric Paquette, and Vasilevskiy were the game's three stars.

My man, Ceddy P. The Dump Truck. Nineteen seconds into the game he blisters a centering feed past Holtby and the Lightning just turned in the First Period of First Periods from there. The Lightning came to the rink prepared to do what it took to take control of this series from the opening puck drop and they could've easily been up 4-0 in the opening frame and a lot of that had to do with the quality and dominance of the team's third and fourth lines. You're not seeing the sustained pressure from the Stamkos and Point lines, but the Cirelli and Paquette lines have been fantastic. It's pretty amazing to see, less than two weeks away from Boston blowhard Jack Edwards implying Paquette was the worst player in the NHL, Dump Truck and his line actually beating the mighty Ovechkin line. Yeah, Ovechkin got his garbage time goal with the extra attacker on tonight, but he went shotless for what seemed like the first 15 minutes of his 20+ minutes of ice time.

Washington will hang their hat on the fact they clawed back a couple of goals in the final two periods while they were chasing the game with score effects. They'll have a little momentum facing elimination in Game Six, but they'll also have to contend with copious ghosts of playoff disappointments past, too. Meanwhile, the veteran-laden Tampa Bay Lightning are now just a single win from the Stanley Cup Final, and over the past three games they've shown a certain savvy to do just what it takes to get the win and keep it moving. If I'm Coach Cooper, I'm feeling pretty good about that group of guys being within eyesight of the finish line to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Pretty good, indeed.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:46. He was good on the forecheck tonight, helping the Lightning generate pressure and keeping the Caps 200 feet from Vasilevskiy's net.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-17-18 Lightning at Capitals

Vasilarceniy in Washington.

Eastern Conference Final

TB-4
WSH-2

Series Tied 2-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 38 shots for the victory. He might want that second goal he allowed to Kuznetsov back that leaked through his five hole, but in a game where the team was outshot 38-20 it took a Herculean effort by the young netminder to steal the W. Pure Vasilarceniy. He pulled the heist, drove the getaway car, and set up the Swiss bank account to stash the loot, too.

First Period
4:28 WSH Orlov (2), (Oshie, Niskanen)
5:38 TB Point (7), (Gourde, Johnson)
8:32 TB Stamkos (7), (Point, Miller)(PP)

Second Period
5:18 WSH Kuznetsov (10), (Ovechkin, Wilson)

Third Period
11:57 TB Killorn (5), (Palat, Sergachev)
19:58 TB Cirelli (2), (unassisted)(EN)

Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point were the game's first and second stars. Vasilevskiy should've been stars one through twenty tonight.

The Lightning did just about everything wrong they could do at times tonight and still found a way to battle through adversity and grind out an incredibly important win. They surrendered the early goal to put themselves in a lot of trouble with Washington's 1-1-3 trap looming, but soon thereafter got the benefit of a horrible Kempny turnover that allowed Point to equalize. After earning the lead with a PP that came off of strong 5v5 play the team got behind the eight ball with a string of three straight PK's at the end of the First Period that completely sapped the team's legs and contributed to one of the worst Second Periods the team could put on the ice, which carried over deep into the Third Period. There, almost halfway through the frame, the team dug deep and strung together three or four strong shifts to earn another power play and they got the eventual game winner just after the expiration of the minor. Then it was bite, claw, and scratch for every shot block and to clog up every passing lane as the team did what it took to protect their fragile lead and get it over the finish line.

On a tangent, how about that Lightning penalty kill? They went 4 for 4 tonight under extreme pressure in a tight game. Obviously Vasiy led the way in that effort, but the grit and the want-to of that unit after a luckluster regular season statistically is just fantastic to see. Keep it up.

One other note on the officiating in this series: the Caps are getting away with almost an early 90's amount of clutching and grabbing and interference. That's not even my issue, though. It's the playoffs and you've got to fight through the muggings sometimes because the refs simply aren't going to call it like a regular season game. I get it. My issue tonight was TJ Oshie clearly diving after skating over Victor Hedman's stick blade in a laughably obvious delayed reaction that would make a soccer player blush at its transparent phoniness. Yanni Gourde was initially called for the trip even though he never made contact with Oshie before he went down. So what did the refs do? They went to replay... to throw Hedman in the box instead of Gourde to hurt the Lightning by robbing them of their best defenseman on a key PK. Luckily the Lightning made the kill, so it didn't cost them at that point in the game, but let's be clear about what we witnessed tonight. That's not a reviewable play. The league literally made a protocol up on the fly to disadvantage the Tampa Bay Lightning in a critical Eastern Conference Final playoff game. And, hell, if you're going to review that play at least call it correctly for the dive it was. Oshie pulled the exact same routine in the Third Period on a play that went completely uncalled and frankly he should've gotten a stand-alone two minute minor for diving in that moment. In both cases, the slightest tap of a stick on the shin pads and the guy just goes dead weight and tumbles head first down toward the ice like he got shot by an assassin. It's disgusting to watch, and it's disgusting that the league went out of their way and outside of the boundaries of the rulebook to find a way to try to reward the Caps for it. It's a complete joke.

Now the Lightning have equalized the series and turned it into a three game series where the team will have home ice advantage. Obviously Game Five is going to be critical. The Lightning must make sure they stay at evens and get on their forecheck and they must make the Caps chase the game. If they do, they've got this.

Anthony Cirelli had the EN goal and was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:49. He was also 50% on six draws. Made some big defensive plays in the Third Period and just continues to do the work on both sides of the puck.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-15-18 Lightning at Capitals

Lightning plant the seeds of belief in Game Three.

Eastern Conference Final

TB-4
WSH-2

Washington Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 38 shots for the victory. He made key situational saves when required and looked like a rock in the net. That's a fantastic response after Game Two's debacle. Washington may well regret letting Andrei climb into this series in this game.

First Period
13:53 TB Stamkos (6), (Hedman, Point)(PP)

Second Period
1:50 TB Kucherov (7), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)
3:37 TB Hedman (1), (Kucherov, Palat)
10:31 WSH Connolly (4), (Stephenson, Niskanen)
16:03 TB Point (6), (Johnson, Coburn)

Third Period
16:58 WSH Kuznetsov (9), (Oshie, Eller)

Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

After two games of charging stubbornly into the teeth of Washington's 1-1-3 trap (it helps when you're not immediately chasing the game by surrendering the first goal), the Lightning finally wised up tonight and managed the puck much better within the 10 feet around each blueline to limit odd man rushes and speed rushes against and take a possession advantage through the first 40 minutes of this game. Washington may have gotten more shots on the shot board (especially in the Third Period when score effects took hold) but the Lightning had the puck more and in dangerous positions in the Washington zone more and they absolutely deserved the win tonight. Helping create that advantage was a series of tweaks along the top three lines that included moving Palat onto the Stamkos line, moving Gourde onto the Point line, and moving Miller onto the Cirelli line. With the exception of some scary defensive zone issues that still seem to crop up with the Stamkos line, it all worked with the Paquette line still doing fantastic work against the Ovechkin line. So, the Lightning threw in some wrinkles, found a formula, and now have a foothold in this series.

I kind of expect Washington to put Backstrom in for Game Four knowing that the winner of Game Four will be the odds-on favorite to win the series. If the Lightning can steal it, I think they're in the cat bird seat while shrinking the series to a three game series where they have the home ice advantage. It's going to take a colossal effort to get it done, though. Washington will understand the gravity of the moment and know full well that dropping Game Four brings all the demons of playoff failures past to the forefront. They're going to play urgent. The Lightning have to match their intensity, their resolve, and their focus. If they do, I believe the Lightning have the depth and quality to pull this out and get the series level.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:12. He was also 50% on 8 draws. With Miller and Killorn as linemates, his line takes on a heavier and more checking minded role than with Gourde on his wing. What you like is Cirelli has the versatility to play both styles.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-13-18

The last juniors game night installment of the season...

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#1 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 2 @ #2 Acadie-Bathurst Titan 1 (Game 6)
Finals
Titan wins series 4-2

C Alex Barré-Boulet , BLB: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 4/11 FO
Playoff Totals: 19 GP, 13-14-27, +11, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 53-66-116, +28, 67 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

The Titan scored goals in the first and in the second to build a 2-0 lead at the 2nd intermission. Drake Batherson (OTT, 2017 4th round pick) scored late in the 3rd to pull the Armada within one, but the equalizer never came as Titan goalie Evan Fitzpatrick (STL, 2016 2nd round pick) stopped 29 Armada shots. For the 20-year-old Alex Barré-Boulet, that’s the end of his illustrious QMJHL career in which he compiled 140-197-337 in 263 regular season games, and 28-32-60 in 42 playoff games. He’ll be suiting up for the Syracuse Crunch in the fall as he begins his pro career.

Ontario Hockey League

#1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 @ #2 Hamilton Bulldogs 5 (Game 6)
OHL Finals
Bulldogs wins series 4-2

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-2-3, -2, 0 PIM, 9 SOG
Playoff Totals: 24 GP, 19-18-37, +7, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 0-2-2, -1, 2 PIM, 7 SOG
Playoff Totals: 24 GP, 13-21-34, -4, 14 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

The Soo built a 3-2 lead by the 2nd intermission behind a goal and a power play assist by Katchouk. But the Bulldogs stormed back with three straight 3rd period markers to take a 5-3 lead late into the game. Katchouk and Raddysh would combine each for their 2nd assist of the game on Jordan Sambrook’s (DET, 2016 5th round pick) first goal of the playoffs to draw the Greyhounds to within one with 45 seconds to go. The equalizer would not come as Hamilton punches their ticket to vie for the Memorial Cup in Regina. Robert Thomas (STL, 2017 1st round pick) and MacKenzie Entwistle (ARI, 2017 3rd round pic) paced the Bulldogs each with a goal and an assist. For Katchouk and Raddysh, this bring an end to their OHL careers, with both players expected to suit up for the Syracuse Crunch in their first pro seasons. Kachouk finishes 101-101-202 in 199 regular season OHL games, and 32-25-57 in 46 playoff games. Raddysh finishes 120-172-292 in 241 OHL regular season games, and 32-47-79 in 77 playoff games.

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