Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy makes his bid for the starter's job.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 34 shots he faced for the win and his first career AHL shutout. He's won 5 out of his last 6 starts and 3 of his last 4 starts have been high quality outings. It certainly feels like he's turned the corner and with Gudlevskis struggling, it's time to ride or die for a little while with Vasya.
SYR Samson, (1) (Namestnikov, Kunyk), 17:08
SYR Namestnikov, (2) (Witkowski), 19:47 (EN)
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Ben Bishop stopped all 13 (not a typo) shots he faced for his first shutout of the season. He had to stop maybe 3-4 quality opportunities, but could've put his feet up half the night otherwise. We resurrect the University of Maine Justice logo tonight, nonetheless.
2:33 TB Gudas (2), (Johnson)
4:28 TB Stamkos (16), (Callahan, Killorn)
5:39 TB Morrow (2), (Drouin, Sustr)
13:40 TB Garrison (3), (Stamkos, Sustr)
18:55 TB Connolly (5), (Filppula, Stamkos)(PP)
In the end, that's exactly the response you would want to see coming out of the 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo. Mind you, the team was annoyingly lethargic in the First Period and really did not play well at all. But, from the Second Period on, their absolute dominance of Buffalo was only really interrupted by some sour grapes Third Period thuggery by the Sabres once the game was clearly into garbage time. The really scary thing is it could've been worse if the Lightning had capitalized on all the Sabres penalties in this game, but they only managed to draw blood on Connolly's late 2-man advantage goal.
The victory gives the Lightning a 3rd insurance point in the bank with 3 games remaining in this segment. They had 4 coming into the segment, so they've got an excellent chance to really improve their position before moving on into the fourth 10-game segment of the season, after which we may find they have so many points the bomb sights may need to start to be readjusted.
Cedric Paquette had a fight, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 15:10. He got in a scrap with Zemgus Girgensons and handled himself well, getting in a couple of really good shots right off the top of the fight. It's not every day you get to beat up the bogus leader in NHL All-Star voting.
Jonathan Drouin had a helper and was +1 in 12:34. They tried him on a line with Boyle and Morrow tonight, and he had a wee bit of chemistry with the well-seasoned veteran Morrow, including setting up Morrow's second goal of the season. I'd still really like to see the Drouin/Filppula/Brown line I suggested a little while back, though, just in case Cooper decides he's going to start taking requests like a wedding singer.
Enroth beats the Lightning.
Evgeny Nabokov allowed 1 goal on 22 shots and 2 of 2 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. It was an improvement over previous efforts, certainly.
9:52 TB Palat (7), (Johnson, Kucherov)
16:06 BUF Girgensons (8), (Myers, Gorges)
BUF- Hodgson, Ennis
The Lightning basically took the First Period off tonight after another emotional tilt with the Rangers last night and it ultimately cost them. Enroth's been hot and it would've taken more pucks on net to get the win tonight. It didn't happen, but they did get a point.
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 shots and 1 hit in 10:52. His speed was a threat tonight and he responded well after being out of the lineup for a little while.
Taking out the trash.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the victory as the Lightning swept the season series against Benedict Arnold and the Rangers 3-0. He also had a helper in tonight's game on top of several sparkling saves that allowed the Lightning to keep contact before eventually pulling away in the Third Period.
6:32 TB Johnson (7), (Palat, Hedman)
12:14 NYR Hayes (3), (Hagelin, Stempniak)
16:02 TB Connolly (3), (Hedman, Bishop)
2:42 NYR Fast (2), (Brassard, Nash)
9:24 NYR St. Louis (10), (McDonagh, Stepan)(PP)
14:23 TB Carle (2), (Johnson, Filppula)
5:34 TB Connolly (4), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)
6:58 TB Johnson (8), (Kucherov, Gudas)
19:33 TB Palat (6), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
That was satisfying. No, not because the Lightning played their best game. They didn't. Their passing wasn't sharp and allowed the Rangers to run up a big shot advantage. Along with a handful of terrible turnovers the Lightning really allowed themselves to be put on the ropes when they fell behind in the Second Period and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 advantage. And then Matt stinking Carle scored to tie the game and the Rangers' world started caving in around them.
You see, after getting annihilated in the first two games of the season series, the Rangers decided this was their measuring stick. This was going to be their big moment to show they were ready to run with the big dogs! Ryan McDonagh, who by virtue of being captain of the Rangers evidently immediately became Brian Leetch reincarnate in New York last year, or something equally irrational, was going to return from injury to help the Rangers smite their new tormentors from the South!
BTW, Rangers and fans, for the record, Victor Hedman > Ryan McDonagh. But, I digress.
The Rangers' best punch they could throw, their heavyweight haymaker, was a Second Period where they walked into the locker room tied 3-3. And, at that point, I think everybody in that building knew how the Third Period would unfold. And brother, it did. Martin St. Louis finished the 3 game series with 2 goals and 2 points, 1 more point than Ben Bishop, and a pretty fantastic -6 rating. I can see why Slats threw in the 2 first rounders.
On the Lightning side of the ledger, it was no surprise the Kucherov line continues to dominate the opposition, but Brett Connolly was a revelation with 2 goals and another that got disallowed for being deflected in with a high stick. You're beginning to see the high-end, elite skill Brett was touted to possess when he was selected in the top-10 so many years ago. He's sugar in open ice, although he might still be another word that starts with "s" along the wall. Also of note, Victor Hedman sneezed 3 assists tonight without even trying. It's obscene how easily he's tallied points since about the midway point of last season.
With 25 games played, the Lightning sit at 36 points, meaning with 5 games remaining in segment 3 of the season they're already at the minimum point total they need to be at to comfortably be on pace to make the playoffs. Everything they get in the next 5 games just replenishes and, possibly, expands the bank of insurance points they had coming into this 10-game segment of the season.
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 2 penalty minutes 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:33.
Jonathan Drouin was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 10:19.
Lightning outlast Senators.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. He made several key stops, including a denial on a shorthanded 3-on-1 by Ottawa to keep the Lightning in contact before they pulled away in the Third Period.
18:13 OTT Legwand (3), (Karlsson, Turris)(PP)
5:13 TB Callahan (11), (Stamkos, Killorn)
1:16 TB Killorn (7), (Stralman, Callahan)
8:09 TB Morrow (1), (Paquette)
13:53 TB Kucherov (9), (Johnson, Garrison)(PP)
Just an efficient, professional, workmanlike effort by the Lightning to nullify a good goaltending effort by Robin Lehner. They leveraged the fact Ottawa was on the downside of a back-to-back and ultimately wore the Sens down with their depth, eventually getting goals from three different lines.
Of note: first, Victor Hedman returned and was a beasty, particularly in the defensive third. Second, Jon Cooper rolled out a couple of new lines, including a Drouin/Filppula/Connolly line that shows some promise. I wish Connolly was a little harder on the puck on the forecheck, but that line has a chance of doing something. I wonder what would happen, though, if Cooper elected to but speedster J.T. Brown on the right side of that line for puck retrieval and general mischief-making purposes. Hmmmmm.
Cedric Paquette had a nice helper on Morrow's first goal of the season and was +1 with 1 hit in 10:58.
Jonathan Drouin had 1 shot and 2 hits in 14:14. The ice time will continue to creep up as he continues to play a well-rounded game like he did tonight.