Tampa Bay Lightning
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.
Lightning weather awful performance to pull out a win.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Another performance where he held the team in the game with his performance in the First Period. All three goals came on deflections, so altogether another quality start.
7:58 TB Hedman (11), (Kucherov, Palat)(PP)
11:51 CAR Hanifin (3), (Lindholm, Aho)
14:54 CAR Ryan (9), (Hanifin, Rask)(PP)
10:51 TB Johnson (18), (Dotchin, Palat)
15:18 TB Kucherov (27), (Johnson, Garrison)
17:23 CAR McClement (5), (Slavin, Lindholm)(SH)
0:46 TB Hedman (12), (Kucherov, Johnson)
Garbage performance by the Lightning and they got away with it. They came out flat as a pancake again after more trade drama with the departure of Valtteri Filppula earlier in the day. As bad as those 4 shots on goal were in the First Period, they actually managed only 3 in the Third Period. Just a really mentally soft, really emotionally bankrupt effort that they stole 2 points out of.
So, how high is the hill now? Well, the Lightning have pulled within 30 points of magic number 96. The math's actually simple at this hour with 20 games left to go: get 30 of a remaining 40 possible points. Playing .750 remains a pretty tough ask, but they've been playing at that clip for the past couple of weeks, and if Stamkos can return in mid to late March... look, it's nice to dream.
New addition Greg McKegg had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 8:14.
Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 20:07. The key goal to knot the game at 2-2 came on a Dotchin bomb from the point that deflected down and in off Tyler Johnson's skate. Big goal from a big shot. Dotchin's strong as an ox and it shows in his slapper.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 hit in 8:32.
Adam Erne had 4 hits in 15:12. 4 shots attempted on goal, but couldn't get any on frame.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman Mark Streit from the Philadelphia Flyers today in exchange for forward Valtteri Filppula, a fourth-round pick in 2017 and a seventh-round selection in 2017, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Tampa Bay then traded Streit to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for their fourth-round selection in 2018.
New look Lightning survive sleepy start to annihilate Ottawa.
Andrei Vasilevskiy began life as the presumptive number one goaltender in Tampa Bay with a 39/40 command performance for the win that included some pure Vasilarceniy in the First Period to allow his team to keep contact and eventually secure the win. That's about all you could ask for from Andrei in his first night as "the man."
6:26 OTT Turris (22), (Karlsson, Hoffman)(PP)
1:39 TB Point (9), (unassisted)
5:37 TB Kucherov (24), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:26 TB Kucherov (25), (Drouin, Johnson)(PP)
19:46 TB Kucherov (26), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
10:57 TB Coburn (3), (Kucherov, Johnson)
Nikita Kucherov, Vasilevskiy, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Kucherov had the natural hat trick and a four point night overall and appears to be fully back to unstoppable form after a very pedestrian middle part of his campaign. When Kucherov is Kucherov, the Lightning are awfully hard to beat.
The Lightning, probably reeling from the trades of veterans Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle, frankly looked lost in the First Period tonight. It took Vasilevskiy stepping up in that opening frame just to give the team a chance because honestly an ordinary goaltending performance would've left them run out of their own barn. A good forecheck on an early shift in the Second Period led to an awful turnover into the slot that led to a Brayden Point quick release goal, and from that point on the Lightning looked like a giant weight had been lifted off of them. Here's the thing about when veterans move out of your locker room: sometimes the vacuum actually gives oxygen to your younger players to step up and take bigger leadership roles. Point and Drouin, in particular, had great body language in that Second Period and you hope they seize the opportunity now to fill the void and imprint their identity on the Lightning now moving forward.
There's still a long way to go to the deadline on Wednesday and a few veteran contracts the Lightning would probably not mind getting out from under if they could, so there could be more changes in the offing. But for now, so far so good. Standings-wise, Tampa Bay needs 32 of a possible 42 remaining points to get to 96 for the season, which would be a colossal task. We're probably still in diagnostic mode the rest of the campaign, but if the Lightning can make this interesting down the stretch it only bodes well for the future. One pretty nice thing about tonight's game is it got the Lightning to dead even in goal differential this year. It'd be nice to be on the plus side at the end of the year, and that seems do-able.
Jake Dotchin had 2 hits in 16:56. I think you saw his minutes logically trimmed back against a quicker Eastern Conference team. Makes sense.
Gabriel Dumont had 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 5:50. Got 5 minutes worth for the price of 2 in that fight with Wideman. Wideman slashed Dumont's stick out of his hand and was promptly fed a sneaky upercut after the two dropped the gloves before Dumont ragdolled Wideman the rest of the bout. Pound for pound, Dumont showed me something there.
Adam Erne had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 13:33. He looks really comfortable at the NHL level already, and I hope he stays in Tampa Bay the rest of the way to see if he can keep developing and stick in Tampa Bay for good heading into next year. With Boyle gone, he brings an element of size and strength down low the team will need.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Byron Froese (FRAYZ) and a 2017 conditional second round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Brian Boyle, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. The conditional pick in 2017 will be the highest second-round choice between the Maple Leafs’ own or previously acquired selections from either San Jose or Ottawa. The Lightning will assign Froese to the Syracuse Crunch. Also, Yzerman announced that forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond will be assigned to the Toronto Marlies.
Froese, 25, has appeared in two games with the Maple Leafs this season, posting two shots on goal. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has skated in 58 career NHL games, all with Toronto over the past two seasons, collecting two goals and five points. He made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens on October 24, 2015. Froese scored his first career NHL goal on December 19 against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Winkler, Manitoba native has also played in 48 games with the Marlies this season, posting 24 goals and 39 points to go along with 18 penalty minutes. Froese paces the Marlies for both goals and points. He’s appeared in 195 career AHL games, registering 49 goals and 101 points to go along with 81 penalty minutes.
Froese was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round, 119th overall, at the 2009 NHL Draft.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have claimed forward Greg McKegg off waivers from the Florida Panthers, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
McKegg, 24, has played in 31 games with the Panthers this season, collecting three goals and six points to go along with 11 penalty minutes. The St. Thomas, Ontario native has set career highs this season for games played, goals, assists (three), points and penalty minutes. McKegg has appeared in 50 career NHL games over the span of four seasons with the Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs, posting five goals and eight points.
The 6-foot, 191-pound forward has also skated in seven games with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League, recording two goals and four points. McKegg has played in 244 career AHL games with the Thunderbirds, Portland Pirates and Toronto Marlies, registering 62 goals and 135 points to go along with 116 penalty minutes.
McKegg was originally drafted by the Maple Leafs in the third round, 62nd overall, at the 2010 NHL Draft.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired goaltender Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft as well as a conditional pick in 2017 from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop and a fifth-round selection in 2017, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Budaj, 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, has played in 53 games with the Kings this season, posting a 27-20-3 record with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage with seven shutouts. Budaj, 34, has appeared in 350 NHL games with Los Angeles, the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche, with a 152-127-39 record with 18 shutouts.
Cernak, 6-3, 221 pounds, has skated in 41 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters this season, registering three goals and 17 points, along with a plus-27 rating. The 19-year-old defenseman has played in 82 career OHL games with Erie, recording seven goals and 32 points with a plus-34 rating.
Off night puts Lightning back behind the eight ball.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the loss. On that third goal, the Lightning really needed Vasiy to step out and make a key situational save to give them a chance and he didn't get it.
6:17 TB Namestnikov (9), (Coburn, Point)
5:04 CGY Backlund (18), (Giordano, Hamilton)
6:25 CGY Monahan (20), (Gaudreau, Hamilton)
17:02 CGY Hamilton (10), (Backlund, Frolik)(PP)
18:47 TB Kucherov (23), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.
The Lightning got off to a great start in this game and looked to be in solid control against Calgary, but they got into penalty trouble in the middle of the period and all of the steam came out of the Lightning attack. I thought they really missed Jonathan Drouin in the lineup because he can be a one man attack shift-to-shift, and without him in the lineup the Lightning were just a lot more predictable and one-dimensional offensively. You need two credible offensive lines, at least, in this league and without Drouin the Lightning had the Triplets and little else.
The Lightning point streak was snapped at 7 games, and with their standings position being what it is they can't afford to lose any games. That's why, realistically, they needed to start this push a month earlier to have a better chance to complete their run to the postseason.
Jake Dotchin was -2 with 7 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 21:16. It was a rugged night for young Dotchin.
Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 1 hit in 6:27. He missed a shot in the Third Period about as far to the left as is possible. I hope to God that puck was deflected and I just missed it. That shot had a better chance of hitting the blimp flying over the arena than it did the back of the net.
Lightning put on a clinic against young Oilers.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory. It was a lighter night for Bishop, in terms of workload, punctuated by a handful of important situational saves.
4:26 TB Palat (12), (Kucherov)
0:16 TB Palat (13), (Johnson, Kucherov)
10:17 EDM Pakarrinen (1), (Klefbom, Larsson)
0:49 TB Kucherov (22), (Stralman, Johnson)
19:59 TB Namestnikov (8), (Kucherov)(EN)
Big ups to the rare time a Jon Cooper coaching challenge actually worked to nullify an Edmonton Third Period goal after a super-sloppy 4-on-4 sequence where the team gave up possession way too easily in that situation.
Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 21:30.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 hit and was 75% on 4 draws in 8:41.