Tampa Bay Lightning
Win if you can. Survive if Kostka lets you.
Ben Bishop stopped all 23 shots he faced for his 5th shutout of the season, besting the living legend Marty Brodeur in the low-scoring battle. U of Maine Justice, to be sure. He's had a rough last couple of weeks, and while he didn't have to be terribly active in tonight's game he made key saves when he needed to and looked rock solid doing it, which is the best takeaway of the whole night.
With the victory, Bishop breaks the Lightning single-season record for wins by a goaltender, and there's a lot of hockey left to be played in this regular season.
12:26 TB Crombeen (3), (Kostka, Filppula)
16:58 TB Kostka (4), (Palat, Filppula)
16:41 TB Thompson (9), (Brown)
The Lightning finally played a complete game tonight against a team they have traditionally not played well against. That's probably a big part of the focus they showed tonight, because they knew going in how frustrating playing the Devils can be if you make mistakes. They came out with a lot of energy and got a lot of possession, but did not allow themselves to get impatient when that possession didn't yield chances. When the Devils made the flash surges they make, the Lightning handled them with solid work on the backcheck and the handful of key Bishop saves. And, when the chances finally came, they potted them. Most importantly of all, with the 2-0 lead going into the Third Period, they did not sit back like they've done on other leads recently. They went for the throat and eventually expanded the lead to the final 3-0 score. The Lightning finally look to have learned a hard lesson, and not a moment too soon.
Mike Kostka had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 3 shots in 16:16. You saw why Kostka has passed Barberio on the depth chart in full display tonight. He gets a center point wrist shot through traffic on the Crombeen goal for the tip-in and then he reads the play and jumps into the rush at the right time on his own goal. Yes, there are times Kostka makes some poor decisions in his own end. He gives you a lot of positives as a tradeoff, though. He jumps into the play well and he's been very good in his time with the Lightning at getting shots through and onto the net. I find myself remembering when the Lightning picked up Dan Boyle from the Panthers way back in the day. Boyle came to the Lightning with an atrocious reputation defensively (just short of Andy Delmore-bad). But, he kept finding the scoresheet every other game for the Lightning, forcing me to, tongue-in-cheek, say "You FEAR Dan Boyle" every time he got a point. I ended up saying that a lot of times over the ensuing 5 seasons Boyle was with the team. I, tongue-in-cheek, started saying, "Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you." since the team brought Kostka in off waivers, and darnit all if he hasn't made me say that a lot so far, too. Boyle was my guilty pleasure back in 2001-2002, and Mike Kostka is very quickly becoming my guilty pleasure in 2013-2014. He's got 2 goals and 5 points in his first 7 games with the team. Will he keep it up like Boyle eventually did? Chances are he won't. But, he has me dying to see if he can.
Lightning sweep up the trash.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the win. He was very off positionally tonight, including a wickedly bad short side softie, but goal support is a beautiful thing.
1:44 FLA Fleischmann (7), (Kulikov, Bjugstad)(PP)
5:38 TB Salo (3), (Filppula)
5:50 FLA Howden (1), (Hayes, Pirri)
8:18 TB Kostka (3), (Purcell)
12:04 TB Callahan (12), (Palat, Filppula)
18:53 TB Johnson (21), (Stamkos)
10:47 TB Stamkos (15), (Filppula, Hedman)(PP)
18:55 FLA Upshall (12), (Bjugstad, Boyes)
19:33 FLA Pirri (8), (Petrovic, Campbell)
This win wasn't the elixir. Florida is terrible and you still saw some concerning signs including bad penalty killing, subpar goaltending from Bishop, and late game lapses while the team was trying to close out a win. So, if you're a glass-half-empty person, there's plenty to complain about. On the other hand, Callahan got his first Lightning goal, Stamkos got his first points since coming back from the broken leg, and the Lightning finally got a W, if you're a glass-half-full person. I'd say the game was a building block, and if they work on correcting the problematic things they will be ok moving forward. The effort has been very good the past few games and they finally got the positive feedback tonight.
10 hits for Radko Gudas in his return from injury. Double digits. Clearly, the trainer's table puts him in a foul mood. Everyone else on the team only had 8 hits combined.
Mike Kostka had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 15:44. Is he perfect defensively? No. But he's given the Lightning the offensive dynamism in the tradeoff you want from an offensive defenseman. So much so, in fact, that he's temporarily supplanted Barberio on the depth chart.
Nikita Kucherov was -2 in 10:09 as he graduates from prospect status on the website with a whimper. With the other new lines Cooper put together playing pretty well, the one casualty was the 4th line with Brown and Kucherov, which saw the ice very little.
Lightning won't be able to nickel and dime their way into the playoffs.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 20 shots before surrendering goals to 1 of 2 shooters for the SO loss. Hedman absolutely hung him out to dry with a bad pass off the end boards that ricocheted out in front on an innocuous play for an easy Erat tap in, and that ended up making a big difference in the game.
11:26 TB Johnson (20), (Palat, Brewer)(SH)
1:01 PHX McMillan (2), (Yandle, Doan)
19:07 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Aulie)
2:13 PHX Erat (2), (unassisted)
7:48 PHX Boedker (16), (Vermette, Michalek)
19:22 TB Palat (17), (Filppula, Carle)
Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars. Their line (along with Filppula) and the Pyatt line were good tonight. It's just a shame that Palat, Filppula, and Callahan came up dry in the shootout.
With all that said, 25 minutes of hockey isn't good enough. The team played a very good First Period, sleepwalked through the Second and most of the Third, and only woke up once they fell behind 3-2. They salvaged a point, but that wasn't good enough. With the spot they are in, they need 2's, not 1's. Period. Urgency needs to be there right now, and it hasn't always been on display.
Mike Kostka had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:13 of service with Gudas out and Salo leaving the game in the First Period. He nearly set up Palat for a OT GWG and a hat trick with a point shot that left a nice rebound. Good decision-making on that play.
Lightning steal a point, but may have left one on the ice.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 32 shots before allowing 1 of 7 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO Loss. It's not a dreadful stat line, however, the Boychuk goal that allowed Boston to tie the game in the Third Period was almost as dreadful as the Erik Johnson GWG Bishop allowed that cost the team the Colorado game. It's a heck of a time for Bishop to look mortal, and you can now legitimately say 2 points were left on the table in Bishop's last 2 starts because of inopportune soft goals.
0:27 TB Palat (15), (Johnson, Brewer)(SH)
4:13 TB Barberio (5), (Pyatt, Callahan)
6:58 BOS Paille (9), (Campbell, Boychuk)
8:29 BOS Soderberg (11), (Kelly)
9:31 TB Filppula (21), (Palat)
8:11 BOS Boychuk (3), (Soderberg, Eriksson)
Ondrej Palat was the game's third star. He got the opportunity to play with Valtteri Filppula tonight after playing with the reunited Palat/Johnson/Panik line against Buffalo. Whether he sticks with Filppula permanently or not, I'm glad to see Palat do well tonight. One of my concerns after seeing St. Louis dealt was whether or not Palat's scoring would fall of the table given how much chemistry those two had. I'm glad to see him get a multi-point game tonight and show that he can keep being productive.
Overall, I guess you can look at this result a couple of different ways. Going in against a team the Lightning aren't built for and getting outshot 32-20, certainly the team should be thrilled to sneak a point out. On the other hand, it's another game where the Lightning had a 2-0 lead, and another game where they had a lead in the Third Period and they didn't get a "W", and it's really hurting their playoff chances badly.
Richard Panik was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 11:29. He hit a post on his shootout attempt, which is a shame, because a winner would've done boatloads for his confidence. Tonight's game graduated Panik from prospect status on the website.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the loss. I didn't consider any of the 3 goals weak ones, but again, you want your goaltender to help you keep contact in a close game like that and Lindback doesn't.
15:56 BUF Myers (9), (unassisted)
9:25 BUF Foligno (7), (Hodgson, Myers)
13:44 BUF Hodgson (16), (Foligno)
17:31 TB Johnson (19), (Hedman)
Tonight's result was not for a lack of effort, shots, or chances. They outshot Buffalo 44-21, which is amazing considering how low the Lightning's shot totals were on the last roadtrip. They came out with a lot of adrenaline flowing and put a ton of pressure on the Sabres. It led to them getting a little loose defensively and some stupid turnovers like the thing Mark Barberio did on Buffalo's first goal, but for the most part I can't be mad at what I saw. They dominated the faceoff circles. They dominated possession. In his return and wearing the "C" for the first time, Steven Stamkos had at least 3 chances he'd probably have potted were it not for needing to shake off a little rust. In the end, though, Jhonas Enroth stood on his head at a very inopportune time with the Lightning's playoff chances starting to head south.
Mike Kostka had 7 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:57. Yes, it's the Sabres, but you have to be encouraged at how well he filled in with Gudas out of the lineup and how active he was offensively.
Richard Panik had 1 hit in 13:12. The stats don't tell the tale. He was a lot stronger and more confident on the puck than he was before his demotion to Syracuse. He's now 1 game away from graduation from prospect status on the website.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 13:52. He failed to convert 2 breakaways and you can see how distraught he was at the bench. He's probably never faced a scoring slump like this in his life. He also is 1 game away from graduation from prospect status on the site.