Who would have thought going to the league's worst team would strengthen Kevin Beech's value?
Beech and Erie continue to show signs of life after a horrible first half of the season, this time going on the road to Windsor and defeating the Spitfires 3-2 in a shootout. Beech stopped 56 of 58 shots to earn first star honors.
After allowing a respectable 2 goals on 17 shots in the first period, Beech stopped 19 of 19 in the second, 16 of 16 in the third, 6 of 6 in overtime, then 7 of 9 shooters in an extended shootout. Erie managed only 23 shots through 3 periods and overtime (9-4-8-1).
Erie plays at Plymouth tonight.
Holmer and the road warriors just smacked the champs in the mouth in their own barn. I like it.
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).
Tampa Bay 15:12, Ryan Craig 12 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 19:23, Doug Janik 2 (Eric Perrin, Vaclav Prospal)
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.
As a consequence of today's trade with Atlanta which moved Bolt Prospects' #23 ranked prospect, Andre Deveaux, out of the organization, Bolt Prospects would like to announce an update of our Midterm Rankings and the prospect page. Deveaux's subtraction moves the #24 and #25 ranked prospects, Denis Kazionov and Marek Bartanus, up one slot in the rankings. Adam Henrich will now move into the top-25 at the #25 spot.
In addition, Stephen Baby's name has been added to the prospect page as an overage prospect. Baby, who turned 27 yesterday, is well over the 24 year old on opening night requirement to qualify as a regular prospect.
Kyle Wanvig, by virtue of the 51 games he played with the Minnesota Wild in 2005-2006, is considered graduated by Bolt Prospects criteria and will not be added to the prospects page. Any prospect who plays 41 or more games in a single season is considered a graduate by site rules.
In an interview for the Springfield Falcons' website, FalconsAHL.com, Springfield Head Coach Steve Stirling has announced that forward Justin Keller will return this weekend after missing over a month with a high ankle sprain. Before his injury, Keller had been playing well on a line with fellow Lightning prospects Blair Jones and Marek Kvapil and the young left winger's return could offer a shot in the arm to the team's anemic offensive attack. In 29 game this season Keller has 9 goals and 17 points with 10 penalty minutes and a -7 rating.
Dane Crowley continued his point-per-game pace since being traded to Everett when he earned an assist in the Silvertips' 4-1 win over Tri-City Wednesday night. Crowley now has 8 points in 8 games with Everett. He was plus-2 Wednesday night, which raises his plus/minus ranking with the 'Tips to plus-14. Everett, who won their 40th game last night, remained the CHL's No.1 ranked team in the rankings released Wednesday. They have been in the top-10 for all 18 weeks of the season.
Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1 as Prince George won again on the road, beating Seattle 3-2 in overtime.
In the OHL, the All-Star Game was held Wednesday night and East beat West 13-9. No Lightning prospects were involved in the game. Hunter Tremblay, an undrafted fifth-year player for Barrie, was named player of the game for scoring 3 goals and 2 assists.