Tampa Bay Lightning
5-2-0. Nice. Daddy likes.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 26 shots for the victory. Another near shutout for the University of Maine product. He's been damned good, and that instills a lot of confidence in the team in front of him.
14:02 TB Johnson (2), (Filppula, Panik)(PP)
11:05 MIN Koivu (1), (Niederreiter, Suter)
14:56 TB Stamkos (5), (Carle, Gudas)
19:42 TB Salo (1), (unassisted)
Bishop and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.
Solid, solid performance against a very good defensive team. The Lightning really played a smart game, in many cases well beyond their years. To be at 5-2-0 at this point is outstanding. I have 12 points as the target for the first 10 game set of the season. Sitting at 10 points right now, the Lightning have 3 games to try to put at least another couple of points up to make the first 1/8th of the season a verifiable success. It's an outstanding spot to be in, although two challenges lie ahead with Boston and Chicago on their way. Bear in mind, though, if the Lightning get into January in contention for a playoff spot, they're going to be in great shape. Cooper's teams have a penchant for playing well in the second half of the year when it's winning time.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 3 hits, and 6 blocked shots in 16:30. I'm surprised his minutes total was that low, because he looked like he was everywhere tonight, including throwing a massive hip check that drew a retaliation penalty from Minny.
Tyler Johnson had 1 goal, 3 shots, and was 69% on draws in 17:34. It was his best all around game in a Lightning uniform thus far, including some excellent defensive work in the neutral zone.
Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 14:08. He made a great one-on-one play to beat a defender wide to set up one near goal and set up Stamkos on a 2-on-0 that nearly resulted in another goal.
Ondrej Palat had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:06. It was also Palat's finest game in a Lightning uniform thus far. Defensively, he was strong as always, but we saw Palat also at his best in the other two zones, as well. On the forecheck, he sat on the puck well late in the game protecting the lead, and I finally saw one of the aspects of Palat's game that I like the most, which is puck savvy in the neutral zone to carry it out of danger and into the offensive zone. The more he does that, a la Filppula, the more he's a keeper.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot in 14:11. I thought this was one of Andrej's rougher nights. He was a little Bambi-legged in the First Period and had a couple of giveaways in the D zone. It was an uncharacteristically green performance from the talented rookie.
Richard Panik had an assist and 2 shots in 13:27. He had his moments on the forecheck and the chances are still coming for him. Sooner or later he will pot one and the floodgates will open.
Lightning learn from their mistakes, pummel the Kings.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. Kind of sad he didn't get the shutout, but then again, that Kings goal that got waved off absolutely shouldn't have been. Another solid game by Bishop overall. When he's playing well, he's incredibly hard to beat down low. Block the long shots, challenge the stuff in tight and let Bishop work his angles and his mechanics. It's a Brodeur-esque recipe for success with Bishop.
0:19 TB Malone (1), (Salo, St Louis)
12:44 TB Purcell (4), (Palat, Carle)
16:22 TB St Louis (3), (Stamkos, Sustr)
10:27 LA Voynov (1), (Frattin, Stoll)
12:40 TB St Louis (4), (Malone, Stamkos)
18:39 TB Palat (2), (Purcell, Johnson)
You hold your breath and wonder how a young team will respond when they have a disappointing loss like the Lightning did to the Pens. Credit to the coaching staff and the leaders in the locker room for having the team ready to roll tonight. That's the kind of response you like to see, and it portends good things. 3 games into the home stand, the Lightning are 2-1-0 and now have 8 points overall for the season with 4 games left to go before they seal the opening 10 games of the season and move back out onto the road. I had about 12 points being the target for what they needed out of the first 10 game segment of the season, so another big win Thursday against Minnesota would put them in great shape to meet or exceed that goal. Now you just need the team to feel confident but not get too high after stomping a pretty good team. Understand, that Wild game is potentially a very, very big game. Win that and you're playing with house money when you're playing against the likes of Boston and Chicago. Lose it, and you're a little bit behind schedule (it would've really been nice to get points out of the Pittsburgh game).
Radko Gudas had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 6 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 20:18.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:07. He was also 64% on draws.
Alex Killorn had 6 shots and 1 hit in 14:28. He absolutely undressed one of the game's best in Drew Doughty off the rush for a near goal.
Ondrej Palat had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:17. That's a man who maximized his minutes. He made the quick play to head man Purcell on Purcell's great one on one goal and was the man on the spot getting a choice chance that he buried off a flubbed Kings clear.
Andrej Sustr got his first NHL point, a helper, and was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 16:37. That's where I'd like to see his ice time settle down: 14-18 minutes. Somewhere in there.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 3 hits in 12:49. He had a goal, were it not for Killorn laying across the goal line to keep the puck out. You feel for Richard on that one. You really do.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was -1 with 1 hit in 9:56. I counted at least 3 decent scoring chances for Nacho, but his 4th line got caught on the ice too long on LA's only goal.
Disappointing, as the Lightning leave at least 1 point on the ice against a quality opponent.
Anders Lindback allowed 5 goals on 26 shots for the loss. Maybe there were no softies tonight, but the same critique of Lindback applies. Playing a team as good as Pittsburgh, you need your goaltender to be more than, "not the reason you lost." He needs to make key saves at key times and be "one of the reasons you won."
13:25 TB Filppula (4), (Killorn, Panik)
2:14 PIT Crosby (3), (Jokinen, Kunitz)(PP)
5:11 TB Stamkos (4), (St Louis, Hedman)
7:01 PIT Orpik (1), (Dupuis, Kunitz)
15:42 TB Purcell (3), (Salo, St Louis)(PP)
0:25 PIT Crosby (4), (Scuderi, Niskanen)
10:26 PIT Crosby (5), (Jokinen, Malkin)(PP)
16:58 TB Killorn (2), (Panik, Johnson)(PP)
19:41 PIT Niskanen (1), (Malkin, Crosby)(PP)
What a horrific ending to a night that showed so much promise. The Lightning, on balance, played really well for 40 minutes in this game. The team really looked like they were skating well, playing crisp hockey, and looked like they could compete with an elite team like Pittsburgh. And then they came out flat as a pancake in the Third Period. The did manage to fight back to get a late goal to potentially salvage a point, but squandered that with a bad late penalty. It's a tough result for a young team like this to take after doing a lot of good things in this game.
Radko Gudas was -2 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 24:13. I think the minutes he received was more reflective of his play than the minus rating he ended up with.
Tyler Johnson had a helper, 2 shots, 1 hit, and he was 44% on draws in 14:04.
Alex Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist, 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 21:17. Arguably, he was the Lightning's best player tonight.
Ondrej Palat had 3 hits in 11:52.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:19 as the Lightning coaching staff were careful to protect their rookie d-man from the likes of Crosby and Malkin. He played well in the minutes he had, but there was no reason to throw Andrej to the wolves.
Richard Panik had 2 assists, but was also -1 with 2 really bad penalty minutes to go along with 2 hits in 20:46. He's such a frustrating mixed bag. There were some ridiculous neutral zone turnovers, and then he turns around and makes a great hustle play to make up for it. He makes a great pass on the power play to Killorn to make a game tying goal and then takes a lazy, selfish tripping call that allows Pittsburgh to take the win. I'm absolutely torn with Panik, and I suspect the coaching staff is, too. He gets 20+ minutes of ice time and gets to play on the second line and on the PP because he has a wide-ranging skill set that allows him to affect the outcome of a game in numerous ways. Unfortunately, as we saw tonight, his game hasn't ripened yet and some of the ways he can affect a game aren't necessarily positive.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 hits in 4:05. This was probably the least effective game of the year for the 4th line.
Lightning squash Panthers for 2 key points.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the victory. Light work, to be sure, but his stop on an early First Period breakaway was one of those key saves you need in a game. He kept momentum off Florida's bench and helped pave the way for the soul-crushing humiliation yet to come.
8:13 TB St Louis (2), (Stamkos, Purcell)
13:54 TB Stamkos (1), (St Louis, Hedman)(SH)
0:59 FLA Boyes (2, (Campbell, Fleischmann)(PP)
11:39 TB Stamkos (2), (Carle, Malone)
15:51 TB Palat (1), (Killorn, Bishop)
3:48 FLA Huberdeau (1), (Gomez, Versteeg)
6:38 TB Filppula (2), (Carle, Killorn)(PP)
9:14 TB Filppula (3), (Purcell, Salo)
12:25 TB Stamkos (3), (Salo, Purcell)
Steven Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, and Martin St. Louis were the game's three stars. This was a bigger 2 points than you might think. There's another murderer's row of games coming up over the next 5 games including the last three Stanley Cup champions with LA, Chicago, and Boston in the mix. The Lightning had to have 2 points tonight, and they crushed a chemistry-less Florida team exactly like they needed to.
Radko Gudas was +2 with 1 shot, 8 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:43. With the Lightning holding such a big lead, Gudas was playing with house money in the physical game.
Tyler Johnson had 2 shots, 2 hits, and was 63% on draws in 13:59. He looked good on the new line with Purcell and Palat and nearly had a couple of goals. World class speed was on display.
Alex Killorn had 2 assists and was +1 with 2 shots in 17:26. He looked good on the new line combo with Panik and Filppula, facilitating by being the digger who was hard in on the forecheck and also showing some deft passing touch. He could've had even more helpers tonight.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in just 10:06. Had a few goal mouth thrills to go with his first tally of the season.
Andrej Sustr was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 16:03. Quiet, efficient game in a nice little comfort zone of minutes. I'll take more like those, please, as he continues to settle into the league.
Richard Panik was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 hits in 17:10. Looked good on the forecheck, particularly early. Could've been a little better on Florida's second goal. Overall, it was an improvement. I'd like to see more giddy up in his first step. He looks a little sluggish to me.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 4 penalty minutes,3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:45. Another solid day at the office for the 4th line.
Lightning win their first mini-segment of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.
11:09 BUF Hodgson (1), (Vanek, McBain)(PP)
13:35 TB Johnson (1), (Hedman, Palat)
18:34 BUF McBain (1), (Hodgson, Vanek)(PP)
5:43 TB Purcell (2), (Malone, St Louis)(PP)
1:50 TB Killorn (1), (Brewer, Filppula)
Alex Killorn was the game's second star. Kudos to Buffalo's media for the homer choice to take 2 star selections in a losing cause. Kudos also to NBC Sports Network scrunch-faced-creep Keith Jones for calling the Lightning a "weak sister" team after the game. Keep sleeping on the Lightning while they gain experience and settle in. It's all good.
Buffalo's not good, so the Lightning needed to get the 2 points and needed to look pretty good doing it. And, for the most part, I thought they did. They outshot Buffalo 34-23 and had the lion's share of the scoring chances. The defense was more loosey goosey than in the first two games, and I'm sure Cooper will remind his young team not to play down to his competition by letting off their defensive system. Still, 2-1-0 to complete this murderous opening road trip is really good, and now they get 7 straight at home for their second mini-segment of the season. It's not an easy slate of opponents, overall, but if they come out of that over .500 then they'll stay in the hunt. My theory, for this season, is if the Lightning are in the hunt in early January they're going to be dangerous. Cooper will have everyone fully programmed and ready to rock by that point, and they'll be a threat. Getting through the first half of the season alive with such an inexperienced team is the trick. 3 games in, so far so good. Ben Bishop looking solid helps that out a lot. A LOT.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 9 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:35. His ice time went up with Sustr getting a night off, and I thought his game was his worst of the first 3 of the season. I like that he stuck up for Filppula in the First Period, but I thought he got a little lost at time in his d-zone and got de-jocked for a scoring chance at one point. He'll have games like this while he figures out how to be an NHLer.
Tyler Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 62% on draws in 14:29. In case you didn't believe Bolt Prospects when we said he had an NHL laser shot, please gander at the tape from his goal tonight. Zap.
Killorn had the winner and was +1 with 4 shots in 18:14. The line shuffling and lesser opponent allowed Alex to possess the puck more than in the first 2 games, and he paid the price to win it in overtime. Took a hit to get it in the zone and then showed ridiculous patience to switch to his backhand on the eventual finish. I think there might be some Chris Drury in Killorn. He scores big goals.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 4 shots and 3 hits in 14:08. That's the most comfortable Palat's looked so far this year. It helps when you're playing a bunch of the same guys to played against in Norfolk and Syracuse on the Sabres roster.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 8:53. Labrie and the 4th line were again, period-to-period, the most consistent Lightning line. You can count on Labrie, Thompson, and Crombeen, despite their athletic shortcomings, to generate forecheck and put some pressure on the opposing defense. When your 4th line can accomplish that for you, it's such a huge asset for a team because you don't have to lean on the other lines as much on nights they don't have it as much. Evidently Buffalo was chirping at Labrie all night about his skating or whatever. Hate to tell Buffalo, but Labrie's line was playing in their end all night long. So if Labrie sucks and his skating sucks, guess how much you clowns in Buffalo must stink if Nacho and his crew keep pinning you down in your end? Success is the best revenge.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.