Tampa Bay Lightning
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 22 shots before leaving the game after the Second Period with the old "upper body injury." Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 13 shots the rest of the way for the backdoor loss. Tough spot for Cedrick to come into, and it cost the Lightning, because there was a goaltending duel in progress at the time.
7:57 TOR Raymond (15), (Kulemin, Rielly)
2:19 TOR McClement (3), (Clarkson, Lupul)
8:10 TOR van Riemsdyk (23), (Gunnarsson, Kessel)
10:28 TB Palat (12), (St Louis, Johnson)
17:08 TOR Bozak (12), (Kessel)(EN)
Ondrej Palat was the game's third star.
Let's recap the past 36 hours. Steven Stamkos' return was postponed another 2-3 weeks because his broken leg hasn't completely finished healing. Ben Bishop is down again with an "upper body injury" which may or may not keep him out of Saturday's game against Detroit. Valtteri Filppula also looked to reinjure his hip after getting the old Russian leg sweep from a Leaf tonight (no call), and he may also be out for Saturday.
Standings-wise, the Lightning are 7 games into segment 6 of the season having only collected 6 points in those 7 games. A loss Saturday would mean the Lightning can't hit their minimum segment target of 12 points again, and puts them in serious jeopardy of not having the minimum 72 points the Lightning really need to have after Game 60 to comfortably be on pace for the playoffs. That's bad. Very bad. This isn't a battle-tested veteran club. You don't necessarily want to see them scrambling for points in March and April against teams that are. Staying on pace is critical.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot in 14:21.
J.P. Cote had 3 shots in 9:05.
J.T. Brown had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 12:57. He keeps generating chances with his speed and grit, particularly in tight, but just can't seem to find a finish.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 15:34. He had a handful of glorious chances in the First Period before tailing off as the game went on. He also has 2 of his shots blocked and 4 that missed the net, as he may be cutting it too fine right now trying to adjust to NHL goaltending.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the loss. Truly, he was the only reason the Lightning were even in the game. The team in front of him should be upset with themselves for squandering a quality start by the big netminder.
16:04 MIN Niederreiter (10), (Spurgeon, Zucker)(PP)
0:34 MIN Heatley (11), (Spurgeon)
13:53 TB Filppula (20), (St Louis, Gudas)
Just a listless, sloppy effort by the Lightning. They nearly were able to steal a point with Tyler Johnson hitting a post late with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, but it would've been an undeserved point. They didn't appear to have their legs tonight at all and they're passing was fairly atrocious too. They compounded that issue by giving Kuemper way too much respect cutting a lot of chances too fine and missing the net altogether on prime opportunities. They treated the guy like Carey Price rather than getting the puck on him and seeing if they could create some greasy goals.
The Lightning really, really need to have a good little homestand before the Olympics Break. They really risk putting themselves in a bad spot if they keep sleepwalking on their way to vacation.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 1 hit in 16:25.
J.T. Brown was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:16. He was the one Lightning forward who looked ready to go from the word jump tonight playing in front of the hometown. Looked like he was shot out of a cannon at times.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 1 shot in 13:12. He created some good looks for himself and his linemates, but nothing that made the scoresheet, unfortunately.
Lightning pass a big gut check moment in Montreal.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. I don't know about you, but one of my takeaways from today's game is that I'm more fired up about Ben Bishop than ever before. He beat one of the best 2-3 goaltenders in the league across the rink in Price. He did it after getting kneed in the back of the head in the last game and, frankly, he probably wouldn't have played today if Lindback had been available because of it. He responded physically when Brandon Prust speared him during a TV timeout in the Second Period. And, he managed to tune out a hostile Montreal crowd that was all over him after the Prust incident. And, the Lightning really, really needed to have this win to stop the 2 game skid they were on at a key moment of this season. If anyone had any questions about Bishop's physical or mental toughness, this game went a lot toward answering those. It's just one regular season game, but it tells me that when/if the Lightning reach the postseason it's an environment where Ben Bishop may very well thrive.
5:58 TB Thompson (4), (Hedman, Brown)(SH)
7:25 MTL Brière (9), (Gionta)
4:36 TB Thompson (5), (Hedman, Killorn)
The Lightning clearly understood the importance of this game and they came to the rink with renewed purpose. J.P. Cote and Radko Gudas helped set a physical tone early and the Lightning kept working hard for 60+ minutes to secure the 2 points and make sure a small losing streak didn't snowball into one of those disastrous 6 game losing streaks that can really wreck your season at this time of year. They dominated the game from a possession standpoint, they had more and better chances, and they stuck to the program even with Price playing extremely well for Montreal.
The victory in the game gives the Lightning 6 points halfway through this 10-game segment of the season, which is exactly where they want to be. They widened their gap on Montreal to 5 points with the Canadiens being the first Wild Card team and they widened their gap on 9th place, for the moment, to 11 points. Losing this game would've made the situation much more bleak on all of the above fronts. Now the Lightning will look to close out this road trip strong against Minnesota and then I strongly expect Stamkos-palooza to happen Thursday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which would hopefully give Steven 2 games to get re-acclimated before he heads off to the Olympics.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 15:50. He had a pretty good game. He was assertive offensively and no big mistakes defensively. I'd be happy with a lot more nights like the game he had today. He's now just 4 games from graduation from prospect status on the website.
J.P. Cote had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 6:24. Like I said, his hit on Gallagher on the opening shift of the game set the tone, and he kept it going with a decent effort in his fight against Prust. He didn't play a ton of minutes, but they were leadership minutes.
J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 13:41. He was the recipient of his helper after PK Subban tipped a centering feed from Nate Thompson into his own net, shorthanded. You make your own luck.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 15:02. He played center between Killorn and Purcell with Valtteri Filppula out of the lineup injured. He looked fantastic in the role in the First Period, setting up a slew of dangerous chances, but his play seemed to tail off a bit as the game wore on and Habs seemed to watch Kucherov a little closer.
Costly night in Ottawa.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 1 shot before leaving the game with an injury. It was a bizarre play where Bishop left his crease to try to play a puck that he had no chance of getting to, and after diving to the ice to get to it he was kneed in the back of the head by his teammate, Kucherov. If it's a concussion, that's probably a week, minimum, without Bishop, but early reports have Bishop passing his concussion test. Lindback allowed 4 on 27 shots the rest of the way for the old backdoor loss.
1:49 OTT Methot (5), (Zibanejad, Spezza)
19:34 OTT Karlsson (13), (Spezza, Michalek)
3:10 TB Killorn (13), (Kucherov, Hedman)
6:25 OTT Smith (10), (unassisted)
18:40 OTT Turris (18), (Ryan)
6:55 OTT Ryan (20), (Turris, MacArthur)
12:54 TB Johnson (17), (Palat)(SH)
17:08 TB Hedman (11), (St Louis, Palat)
Compounding the injury to Bishop was Valtteri Filppula leaving the game with some sort of ailment that limited his mobility after getting hit away from the play. I'm going to go with a hip injury as my guess. If his injury is of any severity, then I'm just going to throw the name Vladislav Namestnkov out there as a possible recall.
The Lightning's effort level really sagged after losing Bishop early in the game, and they looked like they were skating in quicksand until late in the game when the score was well out of hand. Between that and the copious number of turnovers that have ended up in the back of the team's net lately, it's not a good look. In particular, Radko Gudas has really struggled over the last month and he's had turnovers lead to important goals in each of the last two Lightning losses. Against the Leafs, he allowed the GWG. Against the Sens, his mistake led to the Smith goal that destroyed a fledgling rally from the Lightning after they'd cut the deficit to 2-1.
Mark Barberio was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 blocked shots. He was responsible for Turris' goal with an ill advised step up in the neutral zone where he missed the puck to surrender a breakaway to Bobby Ryan, which he compounded by failing to pick up the trailing Turris. There was no atonement for his mistake like the last game against Toronto, either.
J.P. Cote had 6 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:35.
J.T. Brown had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:11.
Nikita Kucherov had a helper and was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:59. He got some luck on his helper with a pass that ricocheted off a skate to Killorn in prime scoring position in the slot for the goal.
Sometimes it's a game that comes down to little things.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the loss. He didn't look sharp to me tonight, and probably wants Kadri's first goal back. He just looked unsettled and seemed to be fighting it, whereas Bernier at the other end looked rock solid making 40 stops.
1:49 TOR Kadri (13), (unassisted)
9:47 TOR Kadri (14), (Lupul, Gunnarsson)
13:13 TB Carle (2), (Palat, Kucherov)
17:12 TB Barberio (4), (Palat, Crombeen)
15:57 TOR van Riemsdyk (21), (Kessel, Bozak)
The Lightning probably deserved better than they got out of this game. They outshot Toronto by more than a 4:3 margin, had the better of the balance of play, and hit 3 posts on their power play chances alone. Still, sometimes, you lose games because the other team's goaltender plays well and you make a few mistakes. Heck, New Jersey's lived off of it for years. Toronto's first and third goals came off of giveaways with the first Kadri goal compounded by a less than stellar goaltending effort. Toronto's second goal came on an innocuous looking play off the side boards where Kadri caught Hedman flat footed and made him look stupid on a little toe drag to get a break. Three mistakes end up in the back of your net and you lose. It's not something they should dwell on too long. They didn't play a terrible game. But, they do need to tighten up and shrink their number of errors, because all things being equal they left a point or two on the ice tonight.
Mark Barberio had a goal, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 12:52. Somewhat of a classic Barberio performance. He gave away the puck in the neutral zone leading to Toronto's first goal. That's bad. The good news is that he was very assertive offensively afterwards trying to atone for the mistake and eventually got the goal to tie the contest up at 2-2 off of a goalmouth scrum. That's improvement, in my eyes, from earlier in the season. Barberio didn't hang his head or play scared after the mistake. He stayed in the fight and got a big goal. That's good.
J.T. Brown had 5 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:16. Toronto had no answer for his speed. None. He almost slipped a First Period 2-on-1 5-hole on Bernier that ended up finding the post and he was dangerous throughout the game. You just wish he could find the finish and make something out of all the opportunities he produces on nights like this.
Nikita Kucherov had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in 10:53. It seemed like a less active night for Kucherov and zero attempted shots on goal seems to confirm that.