Tampa Bay Lightning
The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)
4:45 ARI Ekman-Larsson (12), (Domi, Duclair)
6:39 ARI Vrbata (18), (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson)
18:24 ARI Murphy (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
Full disclosure: the power went off at my house about 15 minutes through the Second Period and didn't come back until late last night. So, the lights went out at my house shortly before they probably went out on the Lightning. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't have to witness that Third Period slide into the abyss. In a way, it's fitting. I declared the Lightning season more or less dead when the team got blown out in Arizona with one of the more feckless efforts of the season. At that point, the math simply didn't work out for a happy ending for the Lightning, and while they did an amazing job to play themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot the fact is there's been far too many nights like this one where the team didn't mind its details against opponents of all stripes and got lit up on the scoreboard. And, it's because of that the team is (probably) heading for early tee times this offseason and a lot of reflection on what might have been.
Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:53.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:17.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:32. He was also 80% on 10 draws.
Yanni Gourde had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. He too was 80% on 10 draws.
Adam Erne had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:50.
Joel Vermin had 2 shots in 11:57.
Lightning run into a juggernaut, see playoff hopes harmed.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
3:44 WSH Oshie (27), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
11:52 WSH Oshie (28), (Ovechkin, Backstrom)
15:52 TB Kucherov (32), (Palat, Point)(PP)
16:08 TB Killorn (17), (Drouin)
3:14 WSH Williams (20), (Niskanen, Burakovsky)
5:30 WSH Carlson (8), (Oshie, Backstrom)
18:30 TB Kucherov (33), (Point)
19:16 WSH Oshie (29), (Backstrom)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
Valiant effort by the Lightning still playing with darn near all their centers out of the lineup and really testing the East's best team. Were it not for a bit of embellishment that led to the call in the Third Period that led to Williams' goal shortly after its conclusion, Tampa Bay might've well gotten points out of the evening.
Unfortunately, with the standings predicament the Lightning are in, there are no moral victories. They're running out of road quickly.
Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 7:19
Gregg McKegg had 2 penalty minutes and was 60% on 10 draws in 8:44. McKegg is now a couple of games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 3 hits in 19:40.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:58.
Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 33% on 15 draws in 15:17.
Adam Erne had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:19.
It didn't happen...
Rather than write a full game report, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a while tonight. It's probably been a couple of years, but I'm going to skip the detailed post mortem of what happened tonight to offer you a different perspective.
It didn't happen.
The fact of the matter is the Lightning were completing a marathon leg of 4 games in 6 nights, and while the effort level was good, they just couldn't get a single bounce to go their way all game long. It's not overly surprising under the circumstances, and it happens. Do we all wish it hadn't happened under this particular circumstance in the standings and against this particular club? Sure. But what's done can't be undone, and there's too much heavy lifting left to do for the club to really dwell on a seemingly impossible night at the office. Better to bury it now and just move on like it didn't happen when the sun rises tomorrow morning, especially for young netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy who still has a lot more big moments to face down before now and the finish line of the regular season.
The stuff that dreams are made of.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. It's overshadowed by the heroics at the other end by Condon, but what Vasilevskiy did again tonight was make every situational save asked of him to get the Lightning their chance at the winner's circle.
3:05 TB Point (12), (Dotchin, Coburn)
2:35 OTT Wingels (7), (unassisted)
4:05 TB Hedman (14), (Palat)
Victor Hedman was the game's second star.
Facing near impossible odds in their quest for a playoff spot, the Lightning look like a locked in team that is already playing postseason hockey. Tonight's challenges: 1.) Get road points in a back to back after a tough game against the Rangers last night, 2.) Again play short of centermen with Vlad Namestnikov back on the shelf, 3.) Solve a netminder in Mike Condon who decided to lose his mind tonight with ten bell save after ten bell save. Amazingly, the team never showed the effects of #1 or #2 and eventually they got the one they needed to solve #3. Now, after all the heavy lifting is done, they find themselves tied for the 8th spot in the East after being left for dead a month ago. The dream lives for the Lightning, with a lot of heavy lifting still left to do.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 7:51.
Greg McKegg had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04. He was also 45% on 11 draws.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 19:13.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 11:22.
Yanni Gourde had 4 shots in 20:20. He's playing so well on this recall and he hasn't shown signs of hitting a wall yet.
Adam Erne had 3 shots and 7 hits in 8:30.
Lightning scratch out 2 key road points.
Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He's been rock solid all year for LA and he's been just as good since the trade over to Tampa Bay.
5:53 NYR Kampfer (1), (Zuccarello, Kreider)
7:43 TB Point (10), (Kucherov, Drouin)(PP)
5:04 TB Dumont (2), (Garrison)
10:22 NYR Grabner (22), (unassisted)
13:21 TB Point (11), (Palat, Kucherov)
Gregg McKegg was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:49. He was also 17% on 6 draws.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:12.
Gabriel Dumont had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:07.
Yanni Gourde had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:10.
Adam Erne was -1 with 1 hit in 12:22.
No centers? No problem.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the victory. The good ones respond to giving up a couple of early goals by shutting the door the rest of the way. This is about the 3rd or 4th time I can recall this season that Vasiy showed that kind of resiliency and mettle.
16:32 FLA Jagr (14), (Barkov, Marchessault)
19:13 FLA Pysyk (4), (Smith, Barkov)
3:43 TB Kucherov (31), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:11 TB Gourde (1), (unassisted)(SH)
17:37 TB Palat (14), (Sustr)
Ondrej Palay, Vasilevskiy, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.
Tampa Bay responded to bad luck and adversity with gutty brilliance tonight in a fashion that should make every Lightning fan proud of their team. They played a great First Period but found themselves on the unlucky end of a couple of greasy goals by the Panthers and some hot goaltending by Reimer (who actually played a whale of a game despite the loss). The Lightning didn't sag in the Second Period, as a lesser team would, and quickly cut the lead in half with the ubiquitous Nikita Kucherov power play goal. about 6 minutes later Gourde made one of the more fantastic individual plays you'll ever see to get the shorthanded goal with a defender draped all over him. Things got hairy almost immediately thereafter, though, when Andrey Sustr took a high sticking call that put the Lightning down 2 men and in danger of immediately surrendering the momentum. Remember, this is a team that dealt off two of its supposedly best PK'ers in Boyle and Filppula and has others like Paquette sitting on the shelf injured at the moment. To not allow a goal there set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Espo Rule victory pre-saged the eventual Lightning win in the Third Period, which was partially made possible by an amazing post to post save by Vasilevskiy on Sceviour late in the frame.
Tampa Bay sits at 73 points with 15 games left to go in the campaign. To reach a magic 96 points, they'll need 23 of a remaining 30 points or a .767 winning percentage. It may take a few less points than that to actually make the postseason, but you get the point about how steep the hill is. They've still got to play about .750 hockey the rest of the way to give themselves a chance.
Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 7:40.
Gregg McKegg was 63% on 8 draws in 7:38.
Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 2 hits in 19:30.
Gabriel Dumont had 5 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 9:24. He and Stralman lowered the boom to knock a couple of Panthers out of the game and set a physical tone tonight.
Matthew Peca was 0% on 7 draws in 10:39. Yikes.
Gourde had his first NHL goal and 2 shots in 17:09. He's been a completely different player in this callup. You wouldn't have known he was even in the lineup in his previous cups of coffee, but he's been a difference maker the past couple of outings.
Adam Erne had a clean sheet in 13:01. Might be hitting a wall in terms of his effectiveness on this recall.
Lightning dominance overshadowed by centerman attrition.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 33 shots for a dominating victory. He gave Minnesota nothing. He was in absolute command and it took a goofy bounce for Minnesota to stave off his shutout bid. That's two straight games where Vasiy has only allowed a single goal. Hard to lose when you do that.
6:53 TB Kucherov (29), (Hedman, Palat)(PP)
11:01 TB Hedman (13), (Drouin, Dotchin)
4:37 TB Sustr (2), (Kucherov, Johnson)
16:02 MIN Scandella (4), (Brodin, Koivu)
18:51 TB Kucherov (30), (Gourde)(EN)
That was probably the most dominant game the Lightning have played against a quality opponent all season. The end result was never really in doubt and even as the Lightning were seeing their players drop like flies, their lower liners stepped up and continued to keep the game under total control. Unfortunately, it's dubious whether that kind of "next man up" success is replicable over the rest of the course of the season. Vladislav Namestnikov was the first to go down after going skates first into the board on a play that could be anything from a broken ankle to a knee. To my eyes, that looked like a season ender. Tyler Johnson was the next to go on a knee to knee hit from Nino Niederreiter. Johnson when down like a dropped sack of potatoes, and I'm hopeful he's the one of the three that can get back faster, but it didn't look great. Third to go was Cedric Paquette, who appeared to give himself a high ankle sprain tackling a Wild forward in the slot on a defensive zone play. That may come pretty close to ending his season given the slim number of games the team has left on the schedule. So, the Lightning are going to have to scramble just to find bodies at that position. McKegg can go back into the lineup and they'll probably immediately recall Matthew Peca. Ultimately, though, it may take Steven Stamkos donning the Superman cape and coming back from IR in the next 2 weeks and playing well just to keep the team's slim playoff hopes alive. It's either that or get Brian Bradley off the buffet line.
Luke Witkowski had 4 hits in 9:11.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 16:33.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 8:21. He was also 63% on 8 draws.
Yanni Gourde had a helper in 16:35 and was on the ice defending the 6 on 5 at the end of the contest.
Adam Erne had 2 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 14:20. He had a really strong First Period, drawing the penalty that led to Kucherov's opening goal, but once the carnage started in the Second Period, it seemed like the line shuffling hurt the continuity Erne was forming with his linemates.
Lightning Raanta'ed again.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 34 shots for the painfully hard luck OT loss. He was overshadowed by Raanta at the other end, but Vasiy was equally brilliant in a high pressure goaltending duel.
3:56 NYR Zibanejad (9), (McDonagh)
Vasilevskiy was the game's first star.
The Lightning played very hard wire to wire and just lost to a hot goaltender. You can complain about decision-making with the puck late in the Third Period and into Overtime, but many nights you blow doors off with a 3:2 shot attempt/possession advantage and Vasilevskiy playing that well. The shame is the Lightning are in a spot where they just can't surrender the odd point on a night like this and realistically stay alive for the playoffs.
Luke Witkowski had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:54. That fight was an epic. We're talking about one that rightfully should go alongside some of those old Rudy Poeschek v. Paul Laus brawls.
Jake Dotchin had 3 shots and 2 hits in 20:25.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes for a nasty boarding call, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:15. He was also 43% on 7 draws.
Yanni Gourde played 10:09. Blank stat line doesn't tell the tale, because he was active at both ends of the rink. This was probably his best NHL game in his time in the Lightning organization.
Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 6 shots, and 2 hits in 11:32. 6 shots in under 12 minutes tells you what you need to know. He was very active tonight. Looked really good.
By any means necessary.
Andrei Vasilvskiy allowed 1 goal on 32 shots before stopping 2 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. I thought Vasilevskiy fought it a little at times in this game, but got stronger as it went on and really grinded out the W. He had to, because Lehner was standing on his head part of the night at the other end of the rink. That's another quality start now that he's "the man". Encouraging.
19:48 BUF O'Reilly (15), (Ristolainen, Eichel)(PP)
2:37 TB Johnson (19), (Hedman, Kucherov[/b]
TB- Point, Kucherov
Vasilevskiy and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars.
It was another disappointingly flat First Period for the Lightning, their 3rd in the last 4 contests, but the team got stronger as it wore on. All in all, this was a classic road win where the team really grinded out the victory. Pretty? No. Effective? Yes. Brayden Point continues to be money in the Shootout and Nikita Kucherov sent the Buffalo faithful to the exits with a gutsy fake whiff on a deke that he slid harmlessly through Lehner's five hole to secure the second point. If you make a move like that, you either score or get choked out by Jon Cooper. There's probably no in between.
68 points now for Tampa Bay puts them 3 points out of the final wild card spot and 6 points out of the final divisional spot with a game in hand on Boston. They're 28 points shy of 96 with 36 points still available. That'd be a .778 win percentage to get there. Still a tough road to go with very little margin for error.
Luke Witkowski had 3 hits in 9:51... playing forward. My scouting report on Witkowski as a forward? Well, he's definitely a north-south kind of winger, that much is for sure.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 18:18. His night's work included accidentally knocking Kulikov out of the game when the two ran into each other inadvertently behind the net. That should give you an idea how big and strong Dotchin is. His upper body strength is pretty impressive. He barely had any time to brace himself and he did that.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 4 hits in 8:03. He was also 29% on 7 draws.
Adam Erne had 1 hit in 11:32. Mixed bag tonight, but he nearly set up a key goal with some creativity behind the Buffalo cage that got Namestnikov a wide open chance that Vladislav probably should've buried.
Reasonable Lightning road effort falls apart in the end.
Peter Budaj allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss in his Lightning debut. He was very good, and probably deserved a better fate than he got on this night.
6:18 TB Erne (1), Namestnikov, Paquette)
8:39 PIT Malkin (27), (Kessel, Schultz)(PP)
16:49 PIT Malkin (28), (Kessel, Cole)
1:10 TB Kucherov (28), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
2:38 PIT Streit (6), (Crosby, Malkin)
16:37 PIT Schultz (10), (Crosby, Streit)(PP)
19:00 PIT Kuhnhackl (4), (Bonino)(EN)
Tampa Bay played pretty well up until they got the Erne goal in the Second Period. They showed they could hang with the defending champs, but took their foot off the gas once they got a lead and eventually found themselves down heading into the final frame. Kucherov got the game even on the power play early in the Third Period, but the team again sagged after scoring the goal and Pittsburgh quickly regained the lead. Drouin set up Kucherov for point blank chances on two different sequences in the middle of the period, but he couldn't capitalize and that ultimately was the game. The game was a lot closer and better played than the score indicated. Unfortunately, the Lightning's standings position means moral victories are worth less than nothing. Only points matter right now.
Greg McKegg was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 8:25. He was also 60% on 5 draws.
Jake Dotchin was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:56.
Gabriel Dumont had 4 hits in 7:59.
Adam Erne had his first NHL goal and point and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:35. His like on Paquette/Namestnikov/Erne faded in the Third Period, but they looked pretty strong for much of the first two periods and may merit keeping an eye on over the next few games. They were quite good.