Tag Archives: John Tavares

2016 NHL Awards Live Blog

By: Nick Lanciani

Tonight is the 2016 NHL Awards ceremony from Las Vegas, so I figured I’d recap every award tonight as they are presented.

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Calder Memorial Trophy winner- Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks

Other finalists- Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) and Connor McDavid (EDM)

Ted Lindsay Award winner- Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Other finalists- Jamie Benn (DAL)  and Braden Holtby (WSH)

General Manager of the Year- Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins

Other finalists- Brian MacLellan (WSH) and Jim Nill (DAL)

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner- Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers

Other finalists- Mats Zuccarello (NYR) and Pascal Dupuis (PIT)

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award winner- Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Other finalists- Alex Ovechkin (WSH) and John Tavares (NYI)

King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner- Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Other finalists- none announced

NHL Foundation Player Award- Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Other finalists- Matt Martin (NYI) and P.K. Subban (MTL)

EA Sports NHL 17 Cover Athlete- Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

Other finalist- Joe Pavelski (SJ)

James Norris Memorial Trophy- Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

Other finalists- Brent Burns (SJ) and Erik Karlsson (OTT)

Frank J. Selke Trophy- Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Other finalists- Patrice Bergeron (BOS) and Ryan Kesler (ANA)

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard Trophy- Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

(presented to the goal scorer who scored the most goals in the season, so this one was already technically awarded before Wednesday night)

William M. Jennings Trophy- Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

(presented to the goaltender(s) who allowed the fewest total goals against in the season, awarded prior to Wednesday night)

Jack Adams Award- Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals

Other finalists- Lindy Ruff (DAL) and Gerard Gallant (FLA)

Then NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took some time out in the night to remember Ed Snider and Gordie Howe. We had this to say…

Art Ross Trophy- Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

(presented to the player that led the league in scoring at the end of the regular season, awarded prior to Wednesday night)

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy- Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Other finalists- Aleksander Barkov (FLA) and Loui Eriksson (BOS)

Vezina Trophy- Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

Other finalists- Ben Bishop (TB) and Jonathan Quick (LA)

Hart Memorial Trophy- Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Other finalists-  Jamie Benn (DAL) and Sidney Crosby (PIT)

 

 

 

Tampa Emerges Victorious in OT For Second Straight Game, Stretches Series Lead to 3-1.

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The New York Islanders lost a heartbreaker at home in overtime by the score of 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second straight game that went past 60 minutes and where the Lightning came from behind to tie and eventually win in OT.

New York looked to avenge their 5-4 OT loss to the Lightning on Tuesday Night. Both teams had a couple bone crunching hits in Game 3, so everyone was wondering if that would boil over into tonight’s game. Besides that fact, tonight’s matchup will be intense for sure and I was not wrong.

Both New York and Tampa Bay started out very physical with the teams combining for 6 hits in the first 2:30 of the game  The Islanders got the first chance to score in the opening frame with an opportunity in front that was shut down by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. After Bishop froze the puck, a big scrum ensued in front of the net with all the Islanders trying to poke the puck in. While all the Lightning players took offense to the Islanders poking their goalie and stood their ground.

From this scuffle the games first penalty was taken thanks to Lightning enforcer Mike Blunden getting called for a two-minute infraction for roughing on New York center Ryan Strome at 2:44 of the first. New York would go to their first manpower advantage of the game looking to strike early. The Islanders would get their wish thanks to Kyle Okposo aka Booker T. The Islanders chance to strike on the power play was winding down and things were not looking so good. Fortunately, Islanders center Frans Nielsen held the puck in at the left-hand dot and slid the puck down to fellow line-mate Nikolay Kulemin below the goal line. Kulemin spotted alternate captain Kyle Okposo in the slot and hit him with a one touch pass. Okposo wasted no time with the puck on his stick and roofed it high glove side to put the Islanders up 1-0 just 4:20 into the first. This was Okposo’s first goal since scoring in Round 1 Game 1 against the Florida Panthers.

The games next scoring chance would fall to the Islanders as well. Just five minutes later Islanders rookie Shane Prince came down the left-hand side and put a wrister on net. Prince’s shot was turned away by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, but he put the rebound right in the slot. Islanders superstar John Tavares picked the puck up and put a shot on net that beat Bishop blocker side but not the post and hit the iron and came right out. A definite chance that we will probably look back to as this game goes on.

Tampa Bay vet Ryan Callahan would then take a double minor for roughing Islander D-man Thomas Hickey. New York would go on a four-minute power play looking to cash in again to double their lead before the period ended. Although thanks to stellar penalty killing, Tampa Bay was able to kill off the long man advantage and only gave up 1 shot in the process. The first period ended with the Islanders up by the score of 1-0.

The second period started off just like the first one did with a penalty early. This time just 1:33 into the period, the roles were reversed and the Islanders went on the penalty kill with 4th liner Casey Cizikas getting a two-minute tripping call on Lightning star Ondrej Palat. To start the PP, New York goalie Thomas Greiss lost a skate blade and had to leave the ice for a repair. So New York was forced to call upon newcomer goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (first NHL playoff action) while Greiss is being attended too in the locker room. Tampa’s first power play of the game was ineffective as they only managed two weak shots and Berube shut them down so New York killed it off with poise.

Thomas Greiss was able to come back after only missing 4:47 in total time. Berube only faced two shots in his brief call to action and showed a strong confidence in himself. If he were to be called upon again, I am sure Islanders coach Jack Capuano will have a lot of faith in Berube to get the job done.

New York would get the next prime scoring chance again at the 10:22 mark of period two. Islanders 1st line center John Tavares dished some backhand sauce and sent Kyle Okposo in on a mini-breakaway in the slot. Okposo received the puck on his backhand and quickly turned the puck to his forehand and released a quick shot on net. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was up to the task and stoned Okposo with his glove and kept the score at 1-0 half way through the second frame.

The Lightning would get their second power play of the game with 11:42 gone as New York defender Johnny Boychuk slashed Tampa winger Ondrej Palat. New York penalty killers made that kill look easy and didn’t even allow a single shot and killed off the penalty. Then almost seven minutes later the Lightning would get their third power play and another chance to tie the game as they went back on the power play. Islander winger Brock Nelson got two minutes for tripping Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin. Just 17 seconds later, on the penalty kill no less, New York defenseman Calvin de Haan was in alone in front and tried going 5-hole on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Haan was robbed on the breakaway with Bishop’s pad. Bishop was able to keep his team’s deficit still at one.

After that mishap, Tampa was able to stay in the offensive zone for almost the whole power play. Tampa was only able to get two shots on net, and thanks to killer shot blocking from the Islanders penalty killers they were able to get back to full strength. The second period ended with the score still sitting at 1-0.

The third period started off with a 5-10 minute delay because the glass/stanchion was broken in the rink so they had to fix it. As the game resumed, both teams started out strong. New York and Tampa Bay traded shots and chances back to back but no team was really able to gain momentum.

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Tampa Bay was finally able to break through and get one past Thomas Greiss. Tampa went to work behind the net in the offensive zone to try and get the puck. Lightning center Tyler Johnson was able to come out of the pile of players with the puck below the goal line. He found fellow 1st liner, Nikita Kucherov on the left-hand dot. Johnson delivered a perfect pass right in Kucherov’s wheelhouse. Kucherov one-timed the puck short side on Greiss to level the score to  1-1 at the 7:49 mark of the third. This was Kucherov’s league leading 8th goal of the playoffs.

After Kucherov’s tieing goal the Islanders and the Lightning had a couple prime scoring chances. Goalies Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop were both stellar and didn’t let anything get past them. The third period ended 1-1. So now the game will be decided in sudden death overtime, just like Game 3 did. Tampa won Game 3 in OT thanks to Dan Boyle so the Islanders were definitely looking for revenge.

Well, Tampa Bay and New York obviously did not want to play triple OT like the Predators and the Sharks did last night because it took just 1:34 into the first overtime frame to get a winner. Tampa Bay had ALL the pressure to start off the OT and that’s how they scored the game winner. Tampa defensemen Andrej Sustr corralled fellow D-man Jason Garrison’s blocked shot in the left-hand corner and slid up to the point. Sustr located Garrison at the right-hand point and threw a beautiful pass over into Garrison’s sweet spot. Garrison unloaded a nasty one-timer that beat New York goalie Greiss far side past his blocker to end the game. It was the shortest overtime played this postseason.

Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss saved 20 out of 22 shots for a .909 SV% as well as J.F. Berube stopped the two shots he faced in emergency relief. Tampa goalie Ben Bishop stopped 27 out of 28 shots for a .964 SV%.

New York led in shots (28-24), faceoffs (29-22), and hits (45-29). Tampa only led in blocked shots (22-10). While the teams tied in penalty minutes (6-6) and giveaways (13-13). The Islanders were 1/3 on the Power Play and the Lightning were 0/3.

Tampa Bay put a major dagger in New York’s playoff hopes with tonight’s win. Their win now has them leading 3 games to 1 in the series (3-1). These two teams will play again on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm in Tampa, Florida where the Lightning will look to end the series on home ice.

Johnson and Drouin lead Lightning to 4-1 victory in Game 2

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin led the charge in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round matchup on Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Ben Bishop made 19 saves on 20 shots against for a .950 SV% in the win, while Thomas Greiss stopped 27 shots out of 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the loss. Drouin’s game winning goal came shortly past the halfway mark of the first period after a successful penalty kill by the Lightning. Tampa has now tied the series at 1-1.

The Islanders failed to secure a 2-0 series lead in what would have been their first 2-0 series lead since the 1983 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning, meanwhile have now won their last six Game 2s in recent playoff history.

Ondrej Palat took the game’s first penalty at 3:12 of the first period for interference, sending New York on their first power play of the afternoon. After failing to get much generated on the power play, the Islanders surrendered the first goal of the game at 6:03 of the first period when Tyler Johnson received a pass from Palat that he sent past Greiss on a backhand to give Tampa a 1-0 lead.

Johnson’s goal was his 3rd of the postseason and was assisted by Palat (1) and Victor Hedman (3).

After killing off Ryan Callahan’s holding penalty, the Lightning capitalized on a surge in momentum after a successful penalty kill, 11:55 into the 1st. Drouin received a pass from Valtteri Filppula that he then sent through Greiss’s five-hole with a backhand shot to give Tampa a 2-0 lead.

Brian Boyle sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty 13:32 into the first period and sent New York on a power play. Nikolay Kulemin scored the lone Islanders goal on the ensuing man advantage at 15:15 of the first period to make it a 2-1 game. Thomas Hickey (3) and Alan Quine (4) assisted on Kulemin’s first goal of the playoffs.

Travis Hamonic closed off the end of the period with a cross checking minor heading into the first intermission.

The Islanders led in shots on goal (12-5), giveaways (4-3) and takeaways (3-2) after twenty minutes, while the Lightning led in hits (16-12) and faceoff wins (10-7) after one period of play.

Drouin tripped Cal Clutterbuck early into the second period and gave the Islanders another power play, which they were unable to capitalize on. Marek Zidlicky took a trip to the sin bin for interference at 5:40 of the 2nd period, but the Lightning were unable to convert on the man advantage.

New York Islanders LogoWhen Clutterbuck was sent to the box for goaltender interference at 11:11 of the 2nd period, Tampa went on the aggressive on the ensuing power play opportunity. Their quick puck movement and possession management led to a rocket of a slap shot from Hedman that beat Greiss to put the Bolts up 3-1 at 11:59 of the 2nd. Hedman’s goal, his first of the postseason, was assisted by Tyler Johnson (6) and Jonathan Drouin (6).

Alex Killorn was penalized for elbowing John Tavares at 18:59 of the second period, but it was not enough to get Tavares to enact revenge on the scoreboard like he did in Game 1. Less than a minute later, Frans Nielsen was sent to the box for holding and the game witnessed its first 4-on-4 action that would extend into the third period.

The third period began with Jonathan Marchessault and Ryan Strome both being sent to the box and forcing 4-on-4 play at 6:33 of the 3rd period. Marchessault went to the box for slashing, while Strome was sent to the box for roughing.

When full strength hockey resumed, both teams remained rather disciplined and nobody could figure out how to beat either goalie. Then with under four minutes to go in the game Greiss vacated the Islanders net for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

At 17:42 of the 3rd period, Johnson pocketed his 4th goal of the postseason on an empty net goal. Johnson’s goal was assisted by Jason Garrison (4) and put Tampa on top of New York by a score of 4-1.

Matt Martin was penalized for charging Victor Hedman at 18:20 of the period and Cal Clutterbuck had a part in creating a 5-on-3 power play for the Lightning at 19:22 of the 3rd period. Marchessault was also penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and with 20 seconds to go in the game, tempers between Killorn and Hickey flared enough for Killorn to receive two minutes for roughing and Hickey to receive two minor penalties— one for interference and the other for slashing.

At the final horn the Tampa Bay Lightning had even the series at 1-1 with a 4-1 rout of the New York Islanders on home ice in Game 2 of their series. The Bolts finished the game leading in shots on goal (31-20), faceoff wins (30-26), giveaways (8-7) and takeaways (12-3), while the Isles led in hits (33-31) and blocked shots (14-7). Both teams finished the afternoon 1/5 on the power play.

Game 3 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center. Puck drop is set for a little after 7:00 PM EST and the game can be viewed on NBCSN in the United States and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.

Prince Nets 2, Bishop Chased, Islanders Win 5-3 in Game 1

By: Nick Lanciani

New York Islanders LogoThe New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night.

Thomas Greiss made 33 saves on 36 shots against for a .917 SV% in the win, while Ben Bishop made 9 saves on 13 shots faced and was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy with a .692 SV% on the night. Vasilevskiy made 8 saves on 8 shots faced in 29:40 TOI in the loss.

Josh Bailey was out of the lineup for the Islanders on Wednesday night after leaving Game 6 versus the Florida Panthers with an upper body injury. With Bailey out, Ryan Strome was inserted into the lineup for New York.

Ondrej Palat opened up the scoring in the first period for Tampa a little over three minutes into the opening frame. Palat’s goal was his 2nd of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was assisted by Jonathan Drouin (5) and Vladislav Namestnikov (1) and gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead.

Travis Hamonic answered back in a hurry at 5:44 of the first period with a goal of his own for New York. Hamonic’s first goal of the postseason was assisted by Alan Quine (3) and John Tavares (5) and tied the game at 1 for the Islanders.

Both teams settled into a little rhythm after swapping goals early in the first. Lightning forward, Tyler Johnson received a minor penalty for hooking New York forward, Cal Clutterbuck, at 9:06 of the first period. The Islanders were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night. They subsequently failed on their next power play opportunity when Alex Killorn went to the box for kneeing Calvin de Haan. Actually, Killorn’s penalty was served by Jonathan Drouin, but anyway…

At 17:28 of the first period, Shane Prince potted one at the back of the net. Ryan Strome (2) and Brock Nelson (3) assisted on Prince’s 2nd goal of the postseaon. A little more than two minutes later, Prince, Strome and Nelson connected for another Islanders goal to give New York a 3-1 lead. The goal was Prince’s second goal of the game and his 3rd of the postseason. Strome picked up his 3rd assist of the playoffs and Nelson picked up his 4th assist of the postseason.

After twenty minutes of play, the Islanders were leading 3-1 and led in shots on goal (12-8), faceoff wins (10-9) and takeaways (3-2). The Lightning led in hits (18-12), giveaways (5-3) and blocked shots (6-3). New York went 0/2 on the power play, while Tampa had yet to see time on the power play entering the first intermission.

Marek Zidlicky served a minor penalty for interference 2:21 into the 2nd period, which gave Tampa their first power play of the night. The Lightning were unsuccessful on the man advantage.

Unknown-1Jonathan Marchessault hooked John Tavares at 8:12 of the 2nd period, resulting in an Islanders power play.

47 seconds into the man advantage Tavares made the Lightning pay with his 6th goal of the 2016 playoffs on the power play at 8:59 of the 2nd. Kyle Okposo (6) and Frans Nielsen (2) picked up the primary and secondary assists on the goal that made it 4-1, Islanders.

Tampa Bay head coach, Jon Cooper, replaced his starting goaltender, Ben Bishop, with Andrei Vasilevskiy after the Tavares power play goal.

Ryan Callahan took a holding penalty with under three minutes left in the second period. New York was unable to convert on the ensuing power play. After forty minutes of play, the Islanders had a commanding 4-1 lead over the Lightning, despite trailing in shots on goal (19-17), hits (22-19) and blocked shots (8-6).

Nikita Kucherov kicked things off in the third period for the Lightning with his 6th goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 7:41 of the period. Kucherov’s goal was assisted by Mathieu Carle (2) and Victor Hedman (2) and cut the Islanders lead to two.

The final penalty of the night was called at 15:20 of the 3rd period, when Casey Cizikas sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game minor. Eight seconds after the conclusion of the power play, Tampa scored to trail by one. The goal was Valtteri Filppula’s first of the playoffs and was assisted by Killorn (3) and Jason Garrison (3) at 17:28 of the period.

With 1:39 to go in regulation, Vasilevskiy deserted the net for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Cal Clutterbuck notched one in the empty net at 19:05 of the third. Cizikas (1) and de Haan (2) picked up the assists on Clutterbuck’s first goal of the postseason and ensured that the Islanders would pick up the 5-3 victory in Game 1.

Tampa led in shots on goal (36-22), hits (33-29) and giveaways (13-7) at the end of the game, while New York led in faceoff wins (32-21), takeaways (4-2) and blocked shots (15-10). The Islanders were 1/4 on the power play on the night while the Lightning were 0/2.

The Isles won two out of the three regular season games against the Bolts and took Game 1 convincingly, despite being outworked in the final twenty minutes. More rest proved to be sloppy for the Lightning out of the gate, however more work caught up to New York by the end of sixty minutes of play.

For the first time since 1983 two playoffs occurred on the same day, with the Tampa Bay vs. New York game opening the Second Round on Wednesday night, while the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators closed out their First Round series in Game 7 at the Honda Center.

The Lightning play host to the Islanders once again for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM EST on home ice at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The game can be seen on NBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada. The Islanders lead the series 1-0 with their 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.

Quine’s First Goal a Huge One For the Islanders in 2OT, Lead Series 3-2

By: Nick Lanciani

New York Islanders LogoThe New York Islanders took home the win in Game 5 versus the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on Friday night in double overtime by a final score of 2-1.

Alan Quine scored the game winning goal at 16:00 of the second overtime period on the power play for the Islanders while Thomas Greiss made 47 saves on 48 shots faced for a .979 SV% in the win. Roberto Luongo made 40 stops on 42 shots against for a .952 SV% in the loss for the Panthers.

The win was the first win in a Game 5 in any series for the Islanders for the first time since 1987. The Islanders broke an 11 game losing streak in Game 5’s, with 10 out of the last 11 having been on the road. It was just the 2nd time that the Panthers and the Islanders needed at least one overtime to determine a winner in a game in this series.

Coming into Friday night, Florida center, Vincent Trocheck was a game time decision, but it was announced prior to warmups that Trocheck would make his return to the lineup in Game 5 for the first time since sustaining a foot injury on March 29th.

The first period began with an early high sticking penalty against Nick Bjugstad just 2:53 into the opening period. New York was unable to capitalize on their first power play opportunity of the night.

At 13:31 of the 1st period, Frans Nielsen sent one past Luongo with a wrist shot that resulted in his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nielsen’s goal put the Islanders up 1-0 and was assisted by Thomas Hickey (1).

Late in the period Jonathan Huberdeau put the Panthers on the penalty kill while receiving a minor penalty for hooking Casey Cizikas. Once again, though, New York was unable to convert on the man advantage (a theme that would remain true until their final power play of the night). After one the Islanders led the Panthers 1-0 and led in shots on goal (11-10), hits (13-7), takeaways (7-4) and blocked shots (8-2). Florida led in faceoff wins (10-9) after twenty minutes of play. Both teams had 5 giveaways each.

Other than swapping power play opportunities in the second period, the score remained unchanged through forty minutes of play. Florida failed to convert on their only power play of the night as John Tavares took the only penalty for New York at 17:28 of the 2nd period. Tavares was sent to the box for slashing, if you were wondering.

After two, the Islanders led on the scoreboard 1-0 and in every other department except for shots on goal, which the Panthers led 24-16.

Unknown-2Almost two minutes into the third period the Florida Panthers tied the game, 1-1, with a goal from Aleksander Barkov. The goal was Barkov’s 2nd of the series and was assisted by Alex Petrovic (3) and Jaromir Jagr (2).

New York used their coach’s challenge to see if the play entered the zone offsides, however after review, it was determined to be inconclusive by the ref, resulting in the loss of an Islanders timeout.

By the end of regulation, New York and Florida were tied 1-1 on the scoreboard and the Panthers were leading in shots on goal 30-24. New York led in just about everything else including hits (45-24), giveaways (14-10), takeaways (15-13) and blocked shots (16-6). Both teams were 26 and 26 on the faceoff dot at the end of sixty minutes of play.

In the first overtime, more NHL history was made.

At 7:19 of the first overtime period, Calvin de Haan covered the puck in the crease with his hand before promptly tossing it aside. This resulted in an automatic penalty shot to be rewarded to the Florida Panthers, as Aleksander Barkov was elected to shoot. Barkov became the third shooter in NHL history to be award a penalty shot in overtime in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. However, for all the effort Barkov put into his backhander, Greiss made the save and denied a game winning penalty shot goal and kept goalies a perfect 3-for-3 in OT penalty shot attempts in the playoffs.

Both teams continued to swap chances, but nobody could seem to find the back of the net with the superb goaltending from Greiss and Luongo in net.

Heading into double overtime, Florida had a 41-36 advantage in shots on goal and a 41-35 advantage in faceoff wins. New York, on the other hand, was leading in hits (58-28), giveaways (20-13), takeaways (17-14) and blocked shots (24-7).

The second overtime got underway and early into it Nick Bjugstad caught a rut in the ice and ended up going face first into the boards. Bloodied, Bjugstad made his way off the ice under his own power after spending some time slowly getting up and returning to his feet. No penalty was called on the play as replay showed that no Islander was responsible for the mishap.

The Islanders were unable to convert on their first power play of double overtime when Jaromir Jagr went to the box for tripping Tavares at 5:06 of the period, however they soon struck on their next man advantage that came about at 14:31 of the second overtime.

Derek MacKenzie was called for slashing Tavares and New York began a usual 5-on-4 power play. After a couple of great opportunities, Alan Quine found the back of the net with a slap shot from the slot that beat Luongo for the 2-1 victory. Marek Zidlicky and Thomas Hickey assisted on Quine’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

With the goal, Quine became the first Islanders rookie to score an OT playoff goal since Ken Morrow did just that on April 11, 1980.

The Panthers finished the night leading in shots on goal (48-42), faceoff wins (52-43) and takeaways (19-18), while New York ended the night leading in hits (65-34), giveaways (24-16) and blocked shots (27-14). The Islanders finished the night 1/5 on the power play while Florida ended the night 0/1 on the man advantage.

With the win on Friday night, the Islanders now lead the series 3-2 and have the chance to eliminate the Panthers on home ice at Barclays Center in Game 6 on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST and can be seen in the United States on NBCSN.

The Islanders Takes Game 3 in Overtime

On Sunday April 17th the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 4-3 in overtime. Thomas Hickey scored the winner in overtime. The New York Islanders have a 2-1 series lead now. Both Thomas Greiss and Roberto Luongo had strong nights. Reilly Smith had a great night for Panthers, as he had 1 goal and 2 assists in a losing effort. New York Islanders Logo

The Barclays Center saw its first ever playoff action and it didn’t take long for the arena to see its first playoff goal. Unfortunately, it came for the visitors, as Reilly Smith scored his 4th goal of the playoff just around 2 minutes into the game. Alex Petrovic and Michael Matheson picked up the assists on the play. Florida was dominating play, getting a lot of chances and peppering Thomas Greiss. As the period went on, the Islanders got their feet going and began exchanging chances, but Roberto Luongo was up to the task. Both teams were throwing their weight around as there were 34 hits thrown in the first.

The second period was much more eventful with 5 goals being scored. The first goal of the period went to Florida as Aleksander Barkov scored just a minute into the game. He turned the puck in off the back wall after a missed shot by Reilly Smith. Aaron Ekblad thought he had his first career playoff goal as he beat Greiss. Upon a coach’s challenge they saw the play was offside, canceling his goal. The Islanders scored the next goal as Ryan Pulock got his first career playoff goal on a 5-3 powerplay. Pulock shot from the point, beat Luongo, and Kyle Okpose and John Tavares picked up assists on the goal.

The Panthers were able to regain their two goal advantage with Nick Unknown-2Bjugstad getting his second of playoffs. Dmitry Kulikov and Reilly Smith picked up assists on the goal giving Smith 3 points on the night.  The Islanders weren’t going to be denied however, as Shane Prince got his first career playoff goal with just 8 minutes remaining in the 2nd period. The comeback was completed with three minutes remaining as Frans Nielsen scored on a backhand for his second of playoffs. Both Kyle Okposo and John Tavares picked up their second assists on the game.  

The 3rd period saw both teams exchanging chances but neither team could find the back of the net, thus we head to overtime. Both Luongo and Greiss had a strong overtime period making some great saves keeping their teams in it. The game ended with Thomas Hickey finding the back of the net 12:31 into overtime.  

The next game will be Wednesday, April 20th 8pm at Barclays Center. The game can be seen on USA network.

Roberto Luongo, Bjugstad, and Smith Overpower New York to Even Up the Series.

The Florida Panthers defeated the New York Islanders by the score of 2-1 on Friday night in front of a rocking 18,373 at the BB&T Center. The Panthers were led by their All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo who made 41 saves in their winning effort.

Both teams started off the game by sending their 4th line to the opening faceoff to try to gain momentum. This worked in favor of both sides being that just 42 seconds into the game there already was a scrum. The scrum involved the two team’s enforcers Shawn Thornton and Matt Martin but didn’t amount to anything. Just three minutes later on the Panthers sixth shot, Rielly Smith (his 3rd goal in just two games) scored the game’s first goal off a juicy rebound from Thomas Greiss, assisted by Nick Bjugstad and Johnathan Huberdeau.

Rocco Grimaldi took the game’s first penalty just two minutes later after he took down Islanders center, Alan Quine. This would send the Islanders to the power power where they looked to even up to score. They were able to sustain a good amount of pressure, but with just one weak shot from the point, it never amounted to anything great. Then 12 minutes later Panthers left winger Garret Wilson tripped Islanders left winger Shane Prince resulting in their second power play of the period. Unfortunately, this PP was worse than the first one resulting in no shots. So, the first period ended 1-0 in favor of the Panthers.

The second period started just like the first, with both coaches sending out their 4th line to set the tone, but this time nothing happened. The first prime scoring chance and momentum went to the Panthers at 17:04 of the second period from veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov after Greiss shut down his first shot from the slot with a great toe/blocker save. Then just 3 minutes and 21 seconds later Dmitry Kulikov found Reilly Smith behind the net who then found a cutting Nick Bjugstad (who slipped poor coverage from Islanders right-winger Josh Bailey) with a spinning backhand pass and Bjugstad roofed his first of the playoffs to open the Panthers scoring tab in the second period.

With 1:27 remaining in the second period we had our games first major altercation. Of course, you might have even guessed it, it involved both teams 4th line again! The Islanders enforcers went at it trying to gain energy for their team who were down 2-0 at the time. It seemed that everyone on the ice had a man tied up and were going back and forth. Before it all started, the pesky Casey Cizikas gave Panthers D-man Aaron Ekblad a shot below the belt and his teammates didn’t like that and a brawl commenced. After everything settled down, a total of 6 penalties were handed out, with both teams sending 3 players to the box. Believe it or not, each player on the 4th line for both teams got two minutes for roughing with Cizikas getting an extra penalty for the low blow. So, the Panthers went on their first power play, but it resulting in nothing special.

The start of the third period was a slow one, with no team truly gaining momentum. One of the first actions of the period was at the 15:47 mark of the third period when Cal Clutterbuck made two beautiful toe drags to gain the zone and gave Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic no choice but to drag Clutterbuck down and go to the box for holding. The Islanders would then get their third PP of the game. They grabbed three high-quality shots during the 2-minute span, but Roberto Luongo was up to the task and kept the shots out of his net.

Then with 3:33 seconds remaining in the game, the Islanders were able to ultimately get one past the stellar Luongo with their 40th shot of the game. With their superstar, John Tavares corralling Nick Leddy’s point shot off the boards and slamming the puck past Luongo’s right pad for his second of the playoffs. Also, Kyle Okposo grabbed the secondary apple (assist) on the goal. They then pulled goaltender Thomas Greiss for the extra attacker pushing for that tying goal. They only managed two shots, but “Lu” wasn’t having any of it and shut the door. The Panthers would then ice the game on an empty net goal scored by Dmitry Kulikov assisted by Aleksander Barkov at 19:51 of the third period.

New York outshot Florida 42-31 and outhit the Panthers 32-22. While Florida won in the faceoff category 36-27, lead in giveaways 13-9, and blocked shots 12-8. Florida was 0/1 on the power play while New York was 0/3.

First Start Roberto Luongo would earn his first playoff win since 2011 when he was with the Vancouver Canucks after saving 41 out of 42 shots (.976%). While Thomas Greiss, who played a great game, gets stuck with the loss after saving 28 out of 30 shots (.933%).

The series is now tied at one game apiece (1-1).  Both teams will now grab a flight up north to Brooklyn, New York for Game 3 on Sunday with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM. You can catch this matchup on NBCSN, SN, MSG+, or FS-F.

April 10 – Day 178 – …but those snow days happened

T.J. Oshie may not have scored in his first return to St. Louis, but he did get a point en route to the Washington Capitals winning 5-1.

St. Louis‘ lone goal was struck only 1:15 into the game by Vladimir Tarasenko (his 40th tally of the season), assisted by Alex Pietrangelo and Paul Stastny, but the good vibes associated with the quick start began to fade 2:49 later when First Star of the Game Alex Ovechkin began his hat trick on a wrister, assisted by John Carlson (his 31st helper of the season) and Third Star Nicklas Backstrom.  Ovechkin lit the lamp again for the game winner at the 6:49 mark on another wrister, again assisted by Backstrom (his 49th helper of the season).  The 2-1 score held to the end of the period.

Carlson’s second point of the night was a goal at the 5:21 mark, a backhander assisted by Tom Wilson (his 16th helper of the season) and Brook Orpik.  Jason Chimera got on the board 56 seconds after the midway point of the game with a tip-in, assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov (his 57th helper of the season) and Dmitry Orlov.  The Caps‘ 4-1 lead held into the second intermission.

Ovi completed the hat trick with a slap shot with 9:25 remaining in the game (his league leading 50th tally of the season), assisted by Backstrom and Oshie.

Second Star Braden Holtby earns the win after saving 19 of the 20 shots he faced (95%), while Brian Elliott takes the loss after saving 22 of 26 (84.6%).  He was replaced after the second intermission by Anders Nilsson, who saved nine of 10 (90%).

Washington‘s win is the second straight for the road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series, setting the season record at 82-47-19, with the home teams leading the roadies by 38 points.

There’s only two games on the docket this evening, and both of them were supposed to be played earlier in the year.  Philadelphia visits the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. eastern and can be viewed on NBCSN, SN and SN360.  Half an hour after that puck drop, Anaheim at Washington gets its start, and can be watched on NHLN, SN and SN360.

I know, there can’t be two different games on the same channels.  Sorry Canada, I don’t have an answer, but if I had to guess, it’s regional.  You’re on your own in figuring this one out.

All four of these teams have already punched their tickets to the playoffs starting this week, but two of them still have some positioning to finalize.  With a win, the Islanders move ahead of the Rangers for third spot for a first round meeting with Pittsburgh, while anything less than two points leaves them in their current matchup with Florida.  Similarly, a win of any variety gives Anaheim the Pacific Division title and a date with Nashville, while anything less leaves them in their matchup with in-state rival San Jose.

I’m more attracted to the PhiladelphiaNew York game, mostly because I think New York has more to gain, or potentially lose, depending on the outcome of this game.

Philadelphia Flyers LogoNew York Islanders Logo

 

Tonight’s game will be Philadelphia‘s ninth in the DtFR Game of the Day series, which stands at 6-2-0.  When they were last featured, Philly won 2-1 on a shootout over the visiting Capitals on March 30.  New York has been featured 10 times before tonight, and own a 3-6-1 record in such games.  Last time, they won 5-2 over the visiting Lightning on Monday.

Usually, I go into a big statistical breakdown, but frankly, I don’t think that’s what this game boils down to.

To put that in perspective, the Flyers have absolutely nothing to play for, maybe except for confidence going into the playoffs.  Haha, right, like they need any.  They just fought themselves into a playoff position that many had written them out of contention for a month or two ago.  In fact, I think they’ll use this as an opportunity to rest guys that have been playing their tails off during this span.

They already know they’ll be meeting Washington later this week, so they’ll want to prepare as much as possible for the pressure the Capitals bring at literally every section of the ice.

The real game tonight is being played between the ears of Jack Capuano, and you’d figure he went to bed last night already knowing how this game will end.  He has a couple things to determine going into this game, including health and positioning.

Health is a big concern for New York right now, and Capuano has already said that this is the No. 1 priority.  Eight men are currently listed on the injury report, including G Jean-Francois Berube, RW Cal Clutterbuck (best shooting percentage and a top five goal scorer in Brooklyn), C Mikhail Grabovski, G Jaroslav Halak (18-13-4, .919 save percentage and 2.3 GAA), D Travis Hamonic (top-three shot blocker), LW Anders Lee (a top-five goal scorer, including top power play totals, and assister for the Isles), LW Matt Martin (leads team in hits) and D Brian Strait.

That being said, this line item, although listed second, may come first in his game plan this evening: New York‘s position in the standings, specifically their first and possible second round matchup.  As it stands right now, the Isles will be making the trip to Florida for a first round matchup with the Atlantic Champion Panthers, with the potential to face either the Lightning or Red Wings in the Conference Semifinals.  Should they win tonight, they swap spots with their in-town rivals and head instead to Pittsburgh, with the potential to meet either Philadelphia or Washington in the Semis.

Frankly, one of those situations sounds way better to me, and that’s their current fate of going to Florida.  Yes, the Panthers play an interesting, unpredictable and beautiful game, but I’d rather play them right now than the Penguins, who had an eight game winning streak before losing to Philly yesterday without Sidney Crosby (you know, the guy that scores the goals).  Looking even further ahead, anything is better than playing Washington, and I think New York would have a good chance of beating either Detroit or Tampa, regardless of who they meet.

But Connor, are you implying that the Isles would toss a game?

Uh, yeah.  Seriously, did you not see the beat-down the Caps put on the Blues last night, the fourth best defense in the league?  I’m staying away from them as long as possible, maybe somebody else will do the dirty work of beating them, or at least wearing 50 goal scorer Ovi out.  On top of that, you get to rest players with that game plan, which is a great spot to be in.  Heck, if New York is really committed to losing, they could just not dress a goalie and go 60 minutes with an empty net.  You know the league office would absolutely love that one, but I’d bet there’d be a few Islanders fans in the arena cheering the choice.

Philadelphia leads the season series 2-1-1, as well as won the last meeting 4-1 on March 21.  If I had to pick the better team, I would certainly lean towards New York, but as I’ve already stated, I don’t know if both teams will be fully exerting themselves.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game, should they play, include New York‘s Thomas Greiss (.926 save percentage [tied for second best in the league]) and John Tavares (33 goals [10th most in the league]) & Philadelphia‘s Michal Neuvirth (.925 save percentage [fourth best in the league] and 2.28 GAA [ninth best in the league]).

I have no idea how this one will end.  As I’ve hinted, I think this might be the weirdest game of chess played this season, but we shall see.  Under normal circumstances I would have the Isles winning, but I think, if New York is wise, that the game will end in Philadelphia‘s favor.

April 2 – Day 170 – Would Barclays give a loan to a penguin?

With three goals in the second period, the Bruins exacted the payback they’ve been wanting to dish to the Blues since December, winning in St. Louis 6-5.

It goes down as a comeback victory for the Bruins, as it was Jaden Schwartz and the Blues that scored first at the 14:04 mark, assisted by Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko (his 31st helper of the season).  Boston leveled only 41 seconds later with a Loui Eriksson wrister (his 28th tally of the season), assisted by John-Michael Liles and Zdeno Chara.  With 3:25 remaining in the first period, First Star of the Game David Krejci gave Boston the lead, assisted by Second Star Matt Beleskey (his 22nd helper of the season) and Liles.  The Bruins‘ 2-1 lead held into the intermission.

5:39 after resuming play, Paul Stastny connected on a backhander for his 10 goal of the season, assisted by Magnus Paajarvi to tie the game at two a-piece.  Nine seconds before the halfway point of the period, Beleskey fired a pure slap shot (his 15th tally of the season), assisted by Krejci.  Things really began falling apart for the Blues with 4:33 remaining in the period, as Frank Vaatrano fired a snap shot assisted by Lee Stempniak and Ryan Spooner (his 35th helper of the season). The final goal of the second also belongs to Boston, courtesy of Krejci after assists from Torey Krug (his 35th helper of the season) and Eriksson.  The Bruins‘ 5-2 lead held to the second intermission.

St. Louis tried to stage a valiant comeback in the first, but to no avail.  Their first goal came only 3:56 after returning to the ice from intermission from Robert Bortuzzo, assisted by David Backes and Stastny (his 36th helper of the season).  3:42 later, Alex Pietrangelo connected on a backhander after assists from Third Star Alexander Steen (his 33rd helper of the season) and Troy Brouwer.  The eventual game-winner for the Bruins finally found the back of the net at the 16:36 mark on a power play wrister from Patrice Bergeron, assisted by Krug and Krejci (his 43rd helper of the season).  It became a game winner because of a goal from Kevin Shattenkirk, assisted by Backes (his 23rd helper of the season) and Brouwer, with only 21 seconds to go, but the Blues were not able to avoid losing 6-5.

Tuukka Rask earns the win after saving 25 of 30 shots faced (83.3%), while Jake Allen takes the loss after saving 4 of 5 (80%).  He replaced starter Brian Elliott after during the second intermission after he saved 18 of 23 (78.3%).

Boston‘s win snaps the home winning streak at four games, but the home team still has a 78-44-18 record over the road squads in the DtFR Game of the Day series, leading them by 37 points.

Happy Saturday hockey fans!  With only a week remaining, there’s not only a lot of games, but a lot of important ones on the schedule!  Today’s action gets underway nice and early at 1 p.m. eastern with two contests (Pittsburgh at the New York Islanders [SN] and Ottawa at Philadelphia [RDS]), with Dallas at Los Angeles (SN1) at 4 p.m. eastern being the only other matinee of the day.  Five games drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Detroit at Toronto [NHLN/CBC/CITY], New Jersey at Tampa Bay, Montréal at Florida [TVAS/SN], Buffalo at the New York Rangers [BELL TV] and Columbus at Carolina), with San Jose at Nashville trailing an hour later.  Tonight’s co-nightcaps drop the puck at 10 p.m. eastern (Washington at Arizona and Calgary at Edmonton [CBC/SN]).

There’s five divisional rivalries being played today (Pittsburgh at New York, Detroit at Toronto, Montréal at Florida, Columbus at Carolina and Calgary at Edmonton), while three are being contested between playoff qualifiers (Pittsburgh at New York, Dallas at Los Angeles and San Jose at Nashville).

Only one of those games was in both lists, so you know where we’re headed!

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoNew York Islanders LogoToday’s game is Pittsburgh‘s 16th in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 7-7-1 record.  Their most recent appearance was Sunday, when they won 3-2 in overtime at the other arena in the Big Apple.  New York was last featured March 25 when they fell 7-4 in Tampa Bay.  That loss set their series record at 2-5-1 in eight appearances.

The 44-25-8 Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the second best team in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the fourth best offense in the league, backed by the seventh best defense.  A statistical breakdown of the Pens‘ game can be found within Sunday’s article.

The Penguins are currently riding a four game winning streak, with their most recent being a 5-2 win over the visiting Predators Thursday night.  A Pittsburgh win today ensures that the Rangers cannot succeed them for second place in the division for at least another day, as the Pens must plan for New York beating Buffalo.

The 42-25-9 New York Islanders currently rank fourth best in the Metropolitan Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played a very well rounded game, as they rank 10th best on either end of the ice.

Led by John Tavares’ 237 shots, New York has fired the puck 2261 times, with 9.2% finding the back of the net for 214 goals (led by Tavares’ 29 tallies), the 10th most in the league.  The special teams haven’t provided too much help towards that cause, successful on 19.34% of attempts for 41 power play goals (led by Anders Lee’s eight extra man tallies), the 15th worst rate in the NHL.

Even with Calvin de Haan’s 189 blocks, the Islanders have allowed 2295 shots to reach 21-11-4 Thomas Greiss and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.2% for only 196 goals against, the 10th fewest in the NHL.  New York‘s true special team strength has been on the penalty kill, where they neutralize 85.51% of their infractions for only 31 power play goals against, the second best rate in the league.

New York enters today’s game riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets.  With a win today, the Islanders have a chance to jump the Rangers for second in the division, but they will need some help from the Sabres for that to happen.

Pittsburgh leads the season series 2-1-0 before this deciding Game 4, with the last meeting occurring March 15 in Pittsburgh, a Penguins 2-1 shootout victory.

Some players to keep an eye on include New York‘s Greiss (.924 save percentage [tied for fifth best in the league]) or Jaroslav Halak (2.3 GAA [10th best in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Sidney Crosby (80 points [third most in the league], 48 assists [seventh most in the league] and 32 goals [tied for ninth most in the league]), Marc-Andre Fleury (35 wins [tied for fourth most in the league], five shutouts [tied for fourth most in the league], .921 save percentage [tied for eighth best in the league] and 2.29 GAA [ninth best in the league]), Chris Kunitz (+30 [third best in the league]) and Olli Maatta (+27 [tied for fourth best in the league]).

I know that this game is taking place in Brooklyn, but I’m feeling a Penguins winner today.  They are peaking at the right time, and have played just short of unstoppable.

March 25 – Day 162 – Island dwellers head to the beach

Philadelphia used three unanswered goals in the third to earn the road win in Colorado in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The Avalanche opened the scoring at the 23:05 mark with a deflection from Nick Holden, assisted by Mikhail Grigorenko and Mikkel Boedker (his 31st helper of the season), but the Flyers leveled the score 9:31 later with the only other goal of the period, courtesy of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was assisted by Shayne Gostisbehere (his 24th helper of the season) and Andrew MacDonald.

Colorado took another lead 6:13 after returning to the ice when John Mitchell connected on a wrister, assisted by Andreas Martinsen and Francois Beauchemin (his 26th helper of the season), which held for 8:04.  Philly leveled the score then on a slap shot from Radko Gudas, assisted by Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek (his 40th helper of the season).  Nineteen seconds later, the Flyers had their first lead of the game, one they would not yield, when First Star of the Game Claude Giroux fired a wrister assisted by Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn (his 28th helper of the season).  The lone insurance goal was from Ryan White on an empty net (his 11th tally of the season), assisted by Bellemare and Gudas.

Third Star Steve Mason earns the win after saving 32 of 34 shots faced (94.1%), while Second Star Semyon Varlamov takes the loss, saving 41 of 44 (93.2%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 73-42-17, favoring the home sides by 33 points over the roadies.

Busy Thursdays and Saturdays usually have light Fridays in between, and today is no different, as there’s only three contests taking place this evening.  The night gets started at 7 p.m. eastern with Washington visiting New Jersey, followed half an hour later by the New York Islanders at Tampa Bay (NHLN/TVAS).  Finally, Vancouver at St. Louis, this evening’s nightcap, drops the puck at 8 p.m. eastern (SN).

Washington at New Jersey is the only division rivalry taking place this evening, while New York at Tampa Bay is the only game between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

Although last night’s games effected the slated potential playoff matchup between these two, it still must be our focus due to the quality of the competition.

New York Islanders LogoUnknown-1

 

 

 

 

This will be New York‘s eighth contest in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 2-4-1 record, with their most recent being March 17’s 4-2 loss in Nashville.  Tampa Bay has been featured 15 times before tonight’s game, and own a 10-3-2 record in such occasions, with their most recent being Tuesday’s 6-2 beat down on the visiting Red Wings.

The 39-24-9 New York Islanders currently occupy fourth in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the first wildcard spot.  To get to that position, they’ve played the seventh best defense, paired with the 13th best offense.

Even with Calvin de Haan’s 172 blocks, the Islanders have allowed 2167 shots to reach 19-10-4 Thomas Greiss and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 182 goals against, the seventh fewest in the league.  Those efforts have been led be the penalty kill, whose 85.44% success rate, allowing only 30 power play goals, ranks second best in the NHL, and has six shorthanded goals to boot, one more than the league average.

John Tavares’ 220 shots has helped lead the Isles to 2141 attempts, with 9.2% finding the back of the net for 200 goals (led by Tavares’ 27 tallies), the 13th most in the league.  That success has continued to the power play, where they also rank 13th in the league with their 19.31% success rate, good for 39 power play goals (led by Kyle Okposo’s seven extra man tallies).

New York‘s last game was a 3-1 home victory over the Senators on Wednesday.  Since Pittsburgh lost last night, a win tonight would propel the Isles back into the third division qualifier.

The 42-26-5 Tampa Bay Lightning currently occupy second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They’ve gotten to that position by playing the fourth best defense in NHL, paired with the 10th best offense.  A more in-depth analysis of Tampa‘s game can be found within Tuesday’s article.

The Bolts enter tonight’s game on a two game winning streak, with their most recent being Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over the Red Wings.  Increasing that streak to three with a win tonight would propel the Bolts back into the division lead.

This will be only the second of three meetings between these squads this season.  New York won the first game 3-2 in Amalie Arena on November 28.

Some players to keep an eye on include New York‘s Greiss (.927 save percentage [third best in the league]) & Tampa Bay‘s Ben Bishop (2.02 GAA [second best in the league], .928 save percentage [second best in the league], five shutouts [tied for second most in the league] and 31 wins [tied for seventh most in the league]) and Steven Stamkos (34 goals [tied for fourth most in the league]).

Not only is Tampa the better team, but they’re also riding a winning streak and have a home-ice advantage.  The Bolts should be back in the division lead after this game is through.