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Juniors Game Night: 4-30-16

United States Hockey League

Bloomington Thunder 4 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 3
Eastern Conference Finals
Best-of-5 series tied, 1-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 6 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, +5, 6 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Dubuque limited Bloomington to just 19 shots on goal, but they scored on four of them to take Game 2, 4-3, and tie the series at one game apiece. The Saints scored all three of their goals in the third period. Zuhlsdorf had a holding penalty and a double minor for roughing. Game 3 is Friday in Indiana.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-30-16 Islanders at Lightning

Lightning begin to establish their dominance.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

NYI-1
TB-4

Series Tied 1-1

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 20 shots for the victory. He didn't face a lot of good chances, but he made the key situational saves as he rebounded from that fragrant performance in Game One. It's not at all surprising he played well in a rebound game.

First Period
6:03 TB Johnson(3), (Palat, Hedman)
11:55 TB Drouin(1), (Filppula)
15:15 NYI Kulemin(1), (Hickey, Quine)(PP)

Second Period
11:59 TB Hedman(1), (Johnson, Drouin)(PP)

Third Period
17:42 TB Johnson(4), (Garrison)(EN)

Victor Hedman, Jonathan Drouin, and Tyler Johnson were the game's three stars. I'd give an honorable mention to Ondrej Palat, personally.

Game One begged the question of what this series will look like once Bishop and the Lightning tighten up their game, and Game Two answered that question: pure dominance. The young Islanders, probably lacking the playoff experience to see the gathering dark clouds, ultimately had no clue what was about to hit them. The Lightning forechecked them like crazy, with speed that just tormented the Islanders D all game long as they gave away turnovers and lost 50/50 pucks en masse. The only thing that saved the Islanders from complete humiliation was the Lightning becoming the victim of some ticky tack calls in the First and Second Periods that yielded the Islanders' only goal on the Kulemin deflection of Hockey's point shot. Other than that, the Islanders barely got a sniff all game long and that's amazing considering that, with Matt Carle out, the Lightning were down to about 4-1/2 NHL caliber defensemen. That didn't matter, though, with the Lightning in the Isles end all game long.

On a tangential note: if you want to see what this series probably boils down to, go ahead and split screen how the Isles played protecting a multi-goal lead in Game One (turtle shelling) and how the Lightning played protecting a multi-goal lead in Game Two (pushing like crazy for the 3 goal advantage). One of these teams knows how to win in the playoffs and the other hasn't been in these situations. School's in session.

Oh, and Greiss is mortal. Drouin's goal was pretty soft, and I think we're about to see a reversion to the mean for Greiss. That's to say, I think he's a competent goalie, but if the Isles are expecting him to steal multiple wins to wrestle this series away from Bishop and the Lightning, that's probably a bridge too far for him to cross.

Now the series moves on to Brooklyn where the Lightning just need to get 1 of 2 games to get home ice and control of the series back. At this hour, given how dominant the Lightning have looked over the past about 90 minutes of hockey, that seems like a low bar to clear.

Matt Taormina was +1 in 5:31 of ice time.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot in 6:47 of ice time. He nearly got the kill shot goal in the Third Period, but overall he and Taormina simply weren't going to see the ice much in this game unless the Lightning really, really had broken it open.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-29-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 6
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan wins best-of-7 series, 4-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 3 Hits
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 1-3-4, E, 25 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 8-4-12, +5, 26 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Dennis Yan and the Cataractes advanced to the QMJHL Finals with a 6-3 home win in Game 5 against the Sea Dogs. Anthony Beauvieller (Islanders) had two goals and five points for Shawinigan. Boko Imama returned for Saint John, and may have played his final junior game Friday. He is eligible for the pros next season should the Lightning choose to sign him. He could also return to juniors as an overager and the Lightning would retain his rights for another year. Mathieu Joseph’s remarkable season officially ends, though he was out for the remainder of the playoffs with a severe cut on his calf that required surgery. He’ll head back to Saint John next year. Yan and Shawinigan await the winner of Moncton and Rouyn-Noranda, Nikita Kucherov’s former team.

United States Hockey League

Bloomington Thunder 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 7
Eastern Conference Finals
Dubuque leads best-of-5 series, 1-0

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, +5, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Captain Keegan Ford (undrafted, Michigan Tech commit) had two goals and two assists from the blueline to lead the Saints to a 7-1 shellacking of Bloomington in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Ryan Zuhlsdorf, who is the only NHL draft pick in the series, finished plus-3 in the win. The Thunder, who upset Cedar Rapids in five games in the conference semifinals, had a 1-0 lead after the first period.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-28-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3 (OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan lead best-of-7 series, 3-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 7-4-11, +5, 24 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Dennis Yan was back in the Cataractes lineup after being suspended for Game 3 due to a cross-checking penalty. He did not register a point in Game 4, where Shawinigan used an overtime goal to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Sea Dogs. Former Lightning camper Philippe Cadorette stopped 36 of 39 shots in the win. Danny Moynihan (undrafted, camped with San Jose) got the game-winner. Shawinigan can punch their ticket to the QMJHL Finals with a win at home Friday. Lightning prospect Boko Imama can return for Game 5.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-26-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 7 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan lead best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 7-4-11, +6, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Shawinigan scored seven goals for the second straight game, taking a 2-1 series lead against the Sea Dogs. Yan was suspended for a cross-check.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-23-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 1 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 7
QMJHL Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 2-0-2, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 7-4-11, +6, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Shawinigan broke open a close, 2-1 game in the second period with five unanswered goals. Dennis Yan scored two of them; one on the power play. The Cataractes needed a Game 2 win after dropping Game 1 in overtime. The series now shifts to Saint John Tuesday tied, 1-1.

United States Hockey League

Green Bay Gamblers 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 2 (OT)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Dubuque wins best-of-5 series, 3-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

The Saints got a goal from Brett Boeing (undrafted) at 16:55 of overtime to win the game and the series. Dubuque moves on past the higher-seeded Gamblers (sorry, Jon Cooper) and will face the winner of Cedar Rapids and Bloomington for the conference title. Cedar Rapids is currently up 2-1 in the series. Hunter Miska (Undrafted Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth commit) stopped 37/38 shots in Dubuque’s win. Zuhlsdorf had a secondary assist on the Saints’ regulation power play goal.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-22-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 6 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 5 (OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 5-4-9, +5, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Saint John drew first blood in its series against Shawinigan, stealing home ice advantage with a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 1. Yan scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, which temporarily tied the game at four in the third period. The Sea Dogs got the game-winner in the first minute of overtime. The winner of this series advances to the QMJHL Finals.

United States Hockey League

Green Bay Gamblers 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 6
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Dubuque leads best-of-5 series, 2-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Dubuque is one win away from advancing to the conference finals after defeating the visiting Gamblers 6-1 Friday. Game 4 is Saturday in Iowa.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Bishop single handedly sends Detroit to the golf course.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

DET-0
TB-1

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-1

Ben Bishop sparkled, stopping all 34 shots he faced for the series clinching shutout victory. He carried his teammates tonight, and administered elite-level U of Maine Justice.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
18:17 TB Killorn(3), (Callahan)

Bishop and Alex Killorn were the game's first and third stars, respectively.

Man, was this ever an important win. The Lightning looked gassed tonight, and with nagging injuries to the likes of Tyler Johnson stacking on top of more serious injuries to Brown, Stamkos, and Stralman, the team just was completely lacking in energy tonight with the exception of one or two players like Jonathan Drouin. As the game winded on and they squandered a bevy of power play opportunities in the First and Second Period, it was clear Bishop was going to have to steal the win, and he ultimately did. A Mrazek turnover behind his cage was picked off by a hustling Ryan Callahan, and the Lightning sent the Red Wings home for the second straight year. Burn the tape of everything but that goal and the handshake line, and lets move on.

On the other side of the Atlantic Division playoff bracket you have to sincerely hope that the Islanders and Panthers choose to kill each other in a bloody murder-suicide that lasts the span of the full seven games. Let the bodies hit the floor, please. Do I ultimately have a preference between the two? Well, I might slightly prefer to play the Islanders because Florida has the more established netminder in Luongo, but the Isles have the better overall depth and high-end scorers so it's a near wash. A healthy, energetic Lightning team has a very good chance of advancing against either one, though, and that's why Bishop's heroics tonight were so important.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-19-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 2 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 6
QMJHL Second Round
Saint John wins best-of-7 series, 4-3

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Saint John won the franchise’s first Game 7, propelling the Sea Dogs to the third round where they will play Dennis Yan and Shawinigan. Boko Imama should be back by Game 5 if the series gets that far. Rouyn-Noranda plays Moncton in the other semifinal.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-19-16 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning snatch a deserved victory from the jaws of defeat.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

TB-3
DET-2

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Four games into the series he's been the model of consistency, allowing 2 goals in each contest. It makes it easy for the team in front of him: manufacture 3 goals and you're probably going to the pay window.

First Period
5:41 TB Kucherov(4), (Johnson, Drouin)(PP)

Second Period
10:31 TB Kucherov(5), (Drouin, Garrison)(PP)
14:53 DET Helm(1), (Glendening, Smith)
19:50 DET Nyquist(1), Sheahan(1)

Third Period
17:01 TB Palat(1), (Drouin, Kucherov)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning responded to their flat Game Three performance with a very strong forechecking effort right out of the gate that continued for most of the first 40 minutes of the game, abbreviated only by the occasional penalty kill. Bottom line: when the Lightning are on the forecheck Detroit has no chance. Their defense can't handle Tampa Bay's speed and they have a tendency to give the puck away pretty easily under duress. The Lightning could've very easily had a 3 or 4 goal lead two thirds of the way through the Second Period when things got unnecessarily sideways.

Detroit got their first goal on a play I don't want to outright label luck, because it required some hand-eye coordination for Glendening to bunt the puck out of mid-air in front of the net, but it certainly was a low percentage play. It wasn't the kind of play where you feel too upset at your defense because the score was borderline an act of puck luck. Still, it put Detroit in position for the smash and grab, which they nearly executed when a bad Garrison turnover along the wall late in the period resulted in an inexcusable goal by Nyquist to tie the game. It was just a soft effort by the entire crew on the ice at a critical moment to gift Detroit the opportunity to knot the series.

Much of the remainder of the Third Period became an exercise of survival for the Lightning, as they got extremely tight and their breakout passing completely betrayed them. Unable to move the puck up ice, Detroit kept possession and faceoffs deep in the Lightning third and developed chances and eventually a key penalty midway in the period where Larkin nearly scored a backhand goal that hit flush off Bishop's horseshoe. As if sensing they had been given a reprieve, the Lightning forecheck bounced back to life for about a 5 minute span, eventually drawing the critical cross checking penalty on Ericsson that let to Palat's game winning goal. And, with that, the Lightning opportunistically put themselves on the brink of advancing quickly out of the opening round.

Three power play goals. Bask in it. And, bask in the chemistry developing between Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov. Drouin was particularly instrumental in the final two goals as he went across the grain back into the slot for a Kucherov one-timer on the Lightning's second goal and then through the seam to a cutting Palat for the deflection on the winner. For those who have hammered us at Bolt Prospects about our advocacy of Drouin's skill set: now you see what he's capable of.

Visioning exercise: close your eyes and imagine Steven Stamkos drifting to the open spot at the far post with Kucherov and Drouin creating pressure points at the near circle and slot area on that power play. Nice, right?

On a tangential note: how satisfying was it that Justin Abdelkader took the call that put the Wings down early in the First Period? Dare I say, it was finger licking good?

Now, if you're the Lightning, you can't afford to fall asleep for Game Five. Finish this and get some time off and hope the Isles and Panthers kill each other on the other side of the bracket. Save the wear and tear of a couple of games and conserve that energy for bigger moments in this postseason run.

Matt Taormina with 1 shot in 2:39 of ice time. If you blinked you missed him tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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