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Big Second Period Lifts Crunch over Americans


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After a scoreless first period, things started to click for the Syracuse Crunch offense.

The Crunch scored three times in the middle frame — including a pair from players not necessarily known for their scoring prowess — as the Crunch beat the Rochester Americans, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“We started connecting,” Crunch forward Daniel Walcott said. “We got a good bounce off (Mathieu Joseph’s) leg and the floodgates opened. We just kept shooting on him. We knew he left a lot of rebounds, we just had to capitalize. We put pucks on net and we got some goals.”

NHL Game Day: 3-10-18 Canadiens at Lightning

The pre-postseason began today.

MTL-2
TB-3 (SO)

Louis Domingue allowed 2 goals on 29 shots before stopping 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. He was very good in this game and, while I don't get a vote in these things, I feel like he's clearly won the backup job in Budaj's absence and deserves to keep it.

First Period
4:10 MTL Lehkonen (6), (Hudon, Reilly)(PP)
13:43 TB Johnson (20), (Sergachev, Gourde)(PP)

Second Period
3:00 MTL Galchenyuk (16), (Hudon)

Third Period
13:43 TB Kucherov (34), (Stamkos, Miller)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
MTL- Drouin
TB- Point, Kucherov

Tyler Johnson and J.T. Miller were the game's first and third stars.

After a week or two of playing with an improvised, standby lineup the Lightning finally got to debut a healthy Ryan McDonagh this afternoon (even in 19:15 of hockey). So, after this game, Tampa Bay now has 13 games to tune up their lineup and get everyone settled into their roles ahead of the playoffs. Call this the pre-postseason. Today's pre-postseason contest featured a little bit of a flat, sleepy start for the Lightning against a shockingly bad on offense Montreal side that continues to struggle to find the back of the net. I don't know if it was planned that way, but if I was going to choose where to debut McDonagh to try to inspire confidence against a run of 80's hockey style scoring fests, this would've been the one to do it in. Overall the defense has been better the past couple of games with room yet to improve. One of the quiet contributors to that, in my opinion, has been the recall of Jake Dotchin from Chateau au Bow Wow. Bottom line: the Ligtning's issues on defense on the right side still exist so they need Dotchin to start playing like he did down the stretch of last season. It makes everything else slot out better for this team, especially if the Lightning (I hope) eventually swap Stralman onto McDonagh's pair in lieu of Dan Girardi who probably shouldn't be playing second pair minutes 5v5 in the playoffs at this stage of his career.

Other things I don't get a vote on: if there's a way for the Lightning to get out from under Killorn's contract to keep J.T. Miller on the team they should find it.

Tampa Bay hits 100 points with 13 games left to go in the campaigns. Many club records are about to go down and go down hard.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:45. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Adam Erne had 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 3 hits in 9:49. At least one of those hits was of the "bone jarring" variety.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-9-18 Bears at Crunch

Budaj loses a squeaker in his first conditioning start.

HER-2
SYR-1

Peter Budaj allowed 2 goals on 18 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
2:51 HER Graovac (12), (Gazley, Simpson)(PP)
7:56 SYR Joseph (11), (Bodie, Dumont)(PP)

Third Period
13:22 HER Ness (4), (Graovac)

Mathieu Joseph was the game's second star.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 3-9-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Sherbrooke Phoenix 3 @ Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4

C Alex Barre-Boulet, BLB: 0-4-4, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 11/17 FO, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 62 GP, 51-62-113, +27, 65 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Barre-Boulet assisted on all four of the Armada’s goals, including two on the power play and all three of linemate Alexandre Alain’s (undrafted) hat trick goals. Alain scored two of his three goals in the 3rd to break open a 2-2 tie.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 @ Kitchener Rangers 3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 2-0-2, +2, 2 PIM, 8 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals: 55 GP, 41-40-81, +51, 28 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 1/5 FO
Season Totals (SSM): 24 GP, 16-18-34, +18, 10 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 31-47-78, +28, 26 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Katchouk (pictured) opened and closed the scoring as the Soo opened up a 3-0 lead on the Rangers in the 1st and then allowed Kitchener to tie the game at 3-3 before Katchouk scored a league-leading 9th game-winner in the 3rd, his 41st of the season, earning First Star honors. In addition to leading the OHL in game-winners, Katchouk is third in the league in goals and second in the league in plus-minus.

North Bay Battalion 4 @ Sudbury Wolves 1

W Alexey Lipanov, SBY: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals (SBY): 16 GP, 3-2-5, -12, 8 PIM
Season Totals (BAR): 35 GP, 11-19-30, +9, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 14-21-35, -3, 18 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals (VHL-Russia): 21 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 8 PIM

Lipanov earned hometown Second Star honors, scoring the Wolves’ lone goal on the power play in a 4-1 loss to the Battalion. North Bay got goals from four different skaters.

Western Hockey League

Kelowna Rockets 4 @ Kamploops Blazers 2

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 4 SOG
Season Totals: 57 GP, 17-48-65, +22, 46 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Foote assisted on Dillon Dube’s (CGY, 2016 2nd round pick) game-winning power play goal.

Moose Jaw Warriors 4 @ Prince Albert Raiders 6

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 66 GP, 7-17-24, +39, 58 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Kody McDonald (undrafted) scored twice early for the Raiders and the captain Curtis Miske scored twice late as Price Albert beat Moose Jaw at the Art Hauser Centre. Sharks free agent signee Jayden Halbgewachs (undrafted) paced the Warriors with two goals and paces the WHL with 66.

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserved on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament.

Chicago Steel 2 @ Omaha Lancers 1

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 43 GP, 3-18-21, +12, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Perbix scored the lone goal for the Lancers, a power play marker in the 2nd to knot the game at 1-1, earning Second Star honors. Finnish winger Aaro Vidgren (undrafted) scored both of Chicago’s goals.

Minnesota State High School League

#3 Duluth East Greyhounds 4 @ #2 Edina Hornets 2

F Sammy Walker, EDN: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season Totals (HS): 30 GP, 33-41-74, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 22-24-46, 6 PIM
Committed to: University of Minnesota

The Hornets opened the scoring, but the Greyhounds would score the next three, and Edina couldn’t quite come back from the 3-1 deficit. Walker assisted on the 3rd period hope goal to draw within one. Duluth East leading scorer Garret Worth (uncommited) paced the Greyhounds with two goals and an assist, as Duluth East advances to the MN State Class AA championship game against Minnetonka on Saturday night. Edina draws the 3rd place consolation game Saturday afternoon against Centennial High School. Edina defeated the Cougars twice this season by scores of 5-2 and 3-2.

Crunch's Offense Struggles in Loss to Bears


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch had a sizable advantage in shots, but the Hershey Bears were more opportunistic.

The Crunch led 30-18 in shots on goal but the Bears’ Aaron Ness broke the tie with 6:38 remaining, as Syracuse was edged by Hershey, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The loss snaps the Crunch’s seven game point streak.

“It was a tough game to lose tonight,” Syracuse forward Mathieu Joseph said. “We outshot them and had a lot of scoring chances. A couple missed scoring chances on my part and a couple guys on the team. We weren’t opportunistic enough. We’ve got to find a way to win like that. It’s a tough loss.”

NHL Game Night: 3-6-18 Rangers at Ex-Rangers

The Lightning's two periods were two goals better than the Rangers' three periods.

TB-5
NYR-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the win. Vasy increases his league-leading wins total to 40. He should get plenty of rest over the next week as the Lightning only have two games and Domingue may get one. Cooper has to be careful about going into the playoffs with a tired goaltender.

First Period
2:31 TB Paquette (3), (Kunitz, Callahan)
7:50 TB Erne (3), (Cirelli)

Second Period
1:53 TB Cirelli (2), (Sergachev, Killorn)

Juniors Game Night: 3-8-18

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 54 GP, 39-40-79, +49, 26 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals (SSM): 23 GP, 16-18-34, +18, 10 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 53 GP, 31-47-78, +28, 26 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Igor Larionov, son of the former Red Wings star, was first star for Windsor with a goal and an assist as the Spits beat the Soo Thursday, 3-2.

Sudbury Wolves 4 @ North Bay Battalion 2

W Alexey Lipanov, SBY: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 7/20 FO
Season Totals (SBY): 15 GP, 2-2-4, -12, 8 PIM
Season Totals (BAR): 35 GP, 11-19-30, +9, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 50 GP, 13-21-34, -3, 18 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals (VHL-Russia): 21 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 8 PIM

Lipanov made his return to the Wolves’ lineup last weekend after missing a month. The Lightning 2017 third rounder is not producing much since his trade to Sudbury. He’s already signed by the Lightning and wasn’t drafted out of the OHL, so he could feasibly go pro next season, or he could be reassigned to Sudbury.

Mississauga Steelheads 8 @ Peterborough Petes 7

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 58 G, 15-13-28, -35, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (NIA/PBO): 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

Paquette had goose eggs across the stat line Thursday as the Petes fell under a Mississauga scoreboard snowman. Paquette was drafted as a sleeper and was starting to show promise this year, but hasn’t been able to take his game to a level (so far) where he’d be a lock for an NHL contract at season’s end. He goes back into the draft if not signed.

Minnesota State High School Quarterfinals

Edina Hornets 7 vs Lakeville North Panthers 1

F Sammy Walker, EHS: 1-4-5, +4, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season Totals: 25 GP, 28-30-58, 12 PIM
Section Playoffs: 3 GP, 4-6-10, 4 PIM
State Tournament: 1 GP, 1-4-5, +4, 0 PIM
College Commitment: University of Minnesota

Walker (pictured) and the No. 2 Edina High Hornets blew out 7th-ranked Lakeville North High, 7-1, in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AA State Championship Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Walker had a shorthanded goal and four assists and from all reports was on another level than everyone else. Three of his assists were primary. Edina plays No. 3 Duluth East in the semifinals Friday. The Hounds shut out St. Michael-Albertville, 5-0.

Juniors Game Night: 3-7-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Drummondville Voltigeurs 3 @ Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4 (OT)

C Alex Barre-Boulet, BLB: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 6/14 FO
Season Totals: 61 GP, 51-58-109, +27, 65 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Barre-Boulet has gone scoreless in two straight games for the second time this year and first since September’s opening week. He was traded from the Volts to the Armada midway through last season, so perhaps he was taking it easy on his former ‘mates.

Western Hockey League

Vancouver Giants 4 @ Kelowna Rockets 3 (OT)

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season Totals: 56 GP, 17-47-64, +21, 44 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Foote continues to separate his point total from his previous career-best. He’s up to 64 points in 56 games this year vs 57 in 71 last year.

Lethbridge Hurricanes 2 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 6

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 65 GP, 7-17-24, +39, 58 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Sosunov was scoreless as the Warriors topped the Hurricanes Wednesday, 6-2. Jayden Halbgewachs had a hat trick and five points for Brayden Point’s former team. Former Bolt prospect Brett Howden was 1+1. As for Sosunov, after starting the year at an unexpected, yet pretty good offensive clip, he has just seven assists in 27 games since the calendar flipped to January. He’s plus-10 in that same time period.

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserve on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament. He is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery. He's committed to Denver University.

NHL Game Night: 3-6-18 Kittens at Lightning

Brayden Point for all the awards: Hart, Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize, Time Man of the Year, American Idol champ... I don't care. Give it to him.

TB-6
FLA-5 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on a ridiculous 49 shots for the OT win. The 80's hockey continued Tuesday and Vasilevskiy is now basically Grant Fuhr.

First Period
10:38 TB Gourde (23), (Sustr, Stralman)
12:51 TB Miller (15), (Gourde)
18:23 FL Bjugstad (12), (Ekblad, Dadonov)

Second Period
1:27 TB Gourde (24), (Miller)
13:35 FL Bjugstad (Dadonov, Yandle)
16:07 TB Alex Killorn 13 (Stamkos, Kucherov)

Third Period
0:21 FL Bjugstad 14 (Matheson, Barkov)
5:25 FL Trocheck 25 (Yandle, Barkov)(PP)

Overtime
2:49 TB Point 27 (Stralman, Johnson)

Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point were the game's first and third stars, respectively.

Well, it happened. The Lightning have reached the magical 96-point marker we look at as what you need to clinch a playoff spot. While it technically hasn't happened yet, you can start telling relatives you're busy during the months of April and May. Tampa Bay has now gone to overtime six straight games and is 5-0-1 in that time. Remember all those years when you wished TB had at least half of its 1-goal losses as wins or loser points? Enjoy this run.

Brayden Point provided the heroics yet again in the extra session with a highlight-reel goal that may have damaged Rick Peckham's larynx. And moments before his toe-drag-cookie-jar-smasher, Point had a wonderful shoulder dip of a fake to find a wide-open Anton Stralman for the apparent game-winner, but his rolling shot seemed to deflect of Tyler Johnson's stick and miss the near post. The Lightning regained the puck, Point slapped his stick on the ice in Stamkos-like position, and had the wherewithal to drag around Dadonov then roof it over Luongo's shoulder. Game over. Point celebrates and Dadonov picks his jock up off the ice to catch his tears. Point did it again.

Now, let's just stop right here and thank Stephen Gregory "Steve" Yzerman for his smallest trade yet. Yzerman and Head Scout Al Murray (among others) identified Point as a priority target in the 2014 draft and traded up from their position at 80th overall all the way to 79th to grab him. Whether or not Minnesota was going to take Point right there or not is not the ... point. The trade was made and so was history. Minnesota took Louis Belpedio, who is now a senior defenseman at Miami University in Ohio. The Wild also received the Lightning's seventh-rounder in the 2015 draft. They took Jack Sadek, who's now a junior defenseman at the University of Minnesota. We're no experts, but we say it was worth it.

As for everything that led up to Point becoming Evgeni's ... Daddy-onov ... well, the Lightning still have a shots-against problem (49??) and the PK didn't come through when it needed to in the third period. Tampa Bay still knows it can win games in regulation, right? It may extend the life expectancy in the Tampa area. Blowing 2-goal leads in the third period to your in-state little brother isn't exactly the stuff of legends. Ryan McDonagh is good, but I don't know that he can be the savior the Lightning needs. He will help, and yes, the Lightning are keeping shots to the outside and limiting the Grade-A's, but your eyes will tell you and Jon Cooper that the defensive structure is not where it needs to be entering the playoffs. The positive here is the Lightning are learning lessons while getting two points. That's certainly better than the alternative.

Anthony Cirelli was even, had a hit, and was 5/11 on draws in 9:38. His audition for 4C continues. He wasn't overly noticeable Tuesday, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for a rookie in a 4C role.

Adam Erne tied for the team lead with five hits and had one shot in 11:29. That's the stat line of an energy-line player. The Rock requests all players Know Their Role.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 3-3-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 3 @ Dummondville Voltigeurs 4 (SO)

C Alex Barre-Boulet, BLB: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 9/17 FO, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 60 GP, 51-58-109, +29, 65 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Barre-Boulet and linemate Alexandre Alain (undrafted) combined for each a goal and an assist to rally the Armada from a 3-0 deficit in the 1st period to force overtime and the eventual shootout. All three Armada shooters, including Barre-Boulet, failed to convert in the shootout, and lost to the Voltigeurs when Nicolas Guay (2018 draft eligible) beat Blainville-Boisbriand goalie Mikhail Denisov (2018 draft eligible). Drummondville was paced by a pair of goals from Cedric Desruisseaux (2018 draft eligible).

Halifax Mooseheads 2 @ Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIMs, 2 SOG, 16/27 FO
Season Totals: 53 GP, 28-51-79, +34, 26 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM

Somppi returned to the lineup after missing a game, but Chicoutimi doubled up the Mooseheads behind two goals by Kevin Klima (undrafted), son of Lightning legend Petr Klima, and three assists by Samual Houde. Haifax jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Saguenees scored four straight, sparked by Klima’s First Star worthy two goals in the 2nd period.

Ontario Hockey League

Sudbury Wolves 2 @ Flint Firebirds 3 (OT)

W Alexey Lipanov, SBY: Did not play
Season Totals (SBY): 13 GP, 2-2-4, -10, 6 PIM
Season Totals (BAR): 35 GP, 11-19-30, +9, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 48 GP, 13-21-34, -1, 16 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals (VHL-Russia): 21 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 8 PIM

Maurizio Colella scored in overtime to give Flint the win in a battle of the basement game. Lipanov remains sidelined for the Wolves.

Peterborough Petes 3 @ Erie Otters 9

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 14/23 FO
Season Totals: 56 G, 15-13-28, -33, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (NIA/PBO): 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

Third period breakdowns have been a theme for the Petes far too often this season, and this one was just painful. Cole Fraser (DET, 2017 5th round pick) knotted the score at 3-3 just 2:44 into the 3rd period for Peterborough, but then the Otters reeled off six 3rd period goals as Erie put up nine goals on the hapless Petes. Eight Otters lit the lamp, including two by Maxim Golod (2018 draft eligible).

Western Hockey League

Spokane Chiefs 4 @ Kelowna Rockets 2

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 55 GP, 17-46-63, +22, 44 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Foote notched a power play assist on the Rockets’ first score of the game. Hudson Elynuik (CAR, 2016 3rd round pick) potted a hat trick for the Chiefs, including two 3rd period goals in the final 74 seconds of the game to break open a 2-2 game.

Saskatoon Blades 1 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 5

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 64 GP, 7-17-24, +38, 58 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (MHL-Russia): 32 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 79 PIM

Justin Almeida (2018 draft eligible) paced the Warriors with three points, and that Howden guy nabs a First Star as Moose Jaw had no trouble with the Blades.

United States Hockey League

** Note: Cole Guttman (Dubuque) was placed on injured reserved on December 22nd following the completion of the World Junior A Challenge tournament.

Omaha Lancers 2 @ Team USA 7

D Nick Perbix , OMA: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 42 GP, 2-18-20, +14, 16 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (HS): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

A pair of Boston College bound mates each scored twice, Danny Weight (2019 draft eligible), son of NHL’er Doug Weight, and Matthew Boldy (2019 draft eligible) led the US National Development Team in putting up a touchdown on the scoreboard against the Lancers.

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