Tag Archives: Valtteri Filppula

The Celestial HBK line leads Pittsburgh to a Game 3 Win and a 2-1 Series Lead.

The Pittsburgh Penguins took care of the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night by a score of 4-2. The Penguins were led by their red-hot “HBK” line, made up of Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin, and Nick Bonino, who combined for 5 points (2G, 3A)

The Tampa Bay Lightning looked to avenge their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night. The Lightning looked to use their home ice advantage in their favor to go up in the series. Tampa was once again without Vezina nominated goaltender Ben Bishop for the second straight game. They turned to their 21-year-old goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in hope for another solid performance from the youngster.

Pittsburgh Penguins Logo

Tonight’s contest started with both teams trading chances back and forth but no team could gain the full momentum. We would then finally get the game’s first prime scoring chance 9:02 into the opening frame. Pens superstar center Sidney Crosby found the puck in his feet behind Tampa’s net. Crosby was being pressured behind the net by the Lightning defender and dished a beautiful no-look between the legs backhand pass to fellow linemate Patric Hornqvist who received the puck to Vasilevskiy’s right and threw a quick snap shot on net. Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy was up to the task and denied Hornqvist chance with his blocker and kept the score tied at zero.

We would then get our games first man power advantage. Pittsburgh winger Patric Hornqvist would get a two-minute call for slashing Tampa vet Ryan Callahan at 17:42 of the first period. This would send Tampa to their first power play of the game. The Pens penalty killers were huge and did not allow a single shot and killed off the penalty. With 2 seconds remaining in the period the Penguins had a faceoff in the offensive zone. Tampa center Brian Boyle would try and beat Pens center Sidney Crosby and close out the period with no damage done. Well, Boyle won the faceoff with ease and pulled the puck back hoping that his fellow defender would grab the puck and waste the remaining time on the clock. Unfortunately, his D-man missed the puck and it went right to the Pittsburgh D-man Trevor Daley who was in deep looking for a shot. Daley flipped right to his backhand and tried lifting the puck over Vasilevskiy’s glove. Vasy was right there to shut down the opportunity with a strong glove save.

The first period would end with the score 0-0 with the Penguins basically dominating Tampa the first 10-15 minutes of the period. While the Lightning would get a little momentum towards the end of the period.

Pittsburgh would get their first power play chance just 3:57 into the second period. Tampa winger Ryan Callahan would get the trip to the sin bin for holding Pens winger Chris Kunitz. Pittsburgh would turn to their dormant PP in the hope of striking first. The Pens would get three excellent scoring chances that were all turned away thanks to stellar goaltending from Andrei Vasilevski. Tampa would also get a great scoring chance thanks to winger Ondrej Palat shorthanded. Palat would get the puck right in front of Pens goalie Matt Murray. Palat would grab Valtteri Filppula’s rebound from Murray and throw a little backhand on net after Murray was way out of position. The shot would have gone in but Pens defender Kris Letang was there to sweep the puck away and back into Murray for the whistle. After both teams had a flurry of chances to open the scoring but the score still sat at 0-0.

Tampa would get the best scoring chance of the game so far 9:49 into the middle period. Lightning grinder Brian Boyle would receive a pass on the left-hand dot from a teammate. Boyle quickly unleashed a nasty one-timer that beat Pens goalie Matt Murray low short side blocker but not the post, it hit iron and came right back out.

Pittsburgh would counter with their best chance of the game almost three minutes later. Pens center Nick Bonino in his own zone, spotted fellow winger Phil Kessel streaking down the right-hand side. Bonino fired a rocket of a pass to Kessel and sent him in all alone on a breakaway. Kessel got to the top of the right-hand circle and let a wrister go towards the net. Vasilevskiy made the save look easy and swallowed the shot right into his chest to keep the Pens from scoring again.

FINALLY after all these shots and chances from both squads we would get the games first goal with just 10 seconds remaining in period two thanks to the HBK line. The play started with Pens winger Phil Kessel making a great play and intercepting Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin’s pass high in the defensive zone. Kessel would then turn on the jets and beat Lightning defender Victor Hedman down the right-hand boards. Kessel would drive down the right side and throw a shot far side that was turned aside from Vasilevskiy right pad. Regrettably, Vasy kicked the puck into the slot and left a juicy rebound just sitting in the slot. Pittsburgh winger Carl Hagelin would beat coverage from lazy D-man Braydon Coburn, pounce on the loose puck, and put home the rebound to open the Pens scoring tab at 1-0.

The second period would end with the score being 1-0. Pittsburgh would again COMPLETLY control the second period. They threw 21 shots on net and only gave up 6, and yes this was ONLY in period two. Tampa’s only strong suit in the period was from their goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who kept them in the game with a number of solid saves. If Tampa looks to come back from their 1-0 deficit they will need to get more shots, and keep the pressure off of Vasy.

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Pittsburgh would then double their lead to 2-0. The dominate HBK line would apply more and more pressure and it eventually paid off again. Pens winger Nick Bonino would get the puck behind the net after a lengthy time of cycling down below the goal line. Bonino would dish the puck to fellow winger Phil Kessel on the low left-hand dot. Kessel would get the puck and quickly fire a laser top cheese and beat Vasy high glove side.

Just 14 seconds later Tampa would get one back and cut into the Pens lead. This time, it was Tampa’s red hot triplet line that got the goal. Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, who sat in his own defensive zone, saw fellow winger Nikita Kucherov at the far blue line. Palat wired a tape to tape pass to Kucherov who caught the pass and skated into the offensive zone. Kucherov left a backhand pass in the high slot to streaking center Tyler Johnson who grabbed the puck and skated in on a mini breakaway. Johnson fired the puck blocker side that beat goalie Matt Murray under the arm and made the score 2-1.

A little over three and a half minutes later Pens D-man Kris Letang and Tampa winger Ondrej Palat each got a two-minute roughing minor after the whistle. So we still played even strength hockey as those penalties offset. Just 48 seconds later Lightning defender Braydon Coburn took a terrible penalty by elbowing Pens winger Carl Hagelin who was entering the zone. This sent the Pens to their second power play of the game as they looked to restore their two-goal lead playing 4 on 3 hockey. Pittsburgh’s wish would pay off thanks to a stellar power play at the 10:50 mark of the final period. Pens star Sidney Crosby would dish the puck to center Evgeni Malkin high in the center of the slot and top of their umbrella on the PP. Malkin quickly threw the puck back Crosby’s way on top of the right-hand dot. Crosby fired a wicked one-timer that beat Vasilevsky high glove short side to increase their lead to 3-1.

Pittsburgh would tally again at 13:12 of the third period. This goal was a confusing one as the puck was bouncing all over the place. Vasy made a great save in close on a tough Penguins shot. The rebound sat in the slot and Tampa back checker Cedric Paquette would blindly backhand the puck out of the slot to, what he thought was, the right-hand corner out of harms way. Sadly, he passed the puck right to Penguins’ winger Chris Kunitz who grabbed the puck and beat a surprising Andrei Vasilevsky short side to stretch the score to 4-1.

The Lightning would take another penalty a minute later with another pointless call from Tampa defenseman Braydon Coburn who caught Pens winger Bryan Rust up high with his stick. Tampa was able to halt the bleeding and stop the scoring onslaught and kill off the penalty. Then with 1:44 left in the game Tampa was able to grab a consolation goal. Lightning defender Matt Carle passed the puck to winger Nikita Kucherov on the left side boards. Kucherov slid down the side and dished the puck to Ondrej Palat in the high slot who ripped another one-timer high glove side on Matt Murray to cut the score to 4-2.

With 19 seconds left in the game, a minor scrum ensued between the two teams. After everything got settled down three penalties were handed out, one to Pittsburgh and two to Tampa Bay. Pens D-man Trevor Daley got a two-minute roughing call and Tampa winger Alex Killorn getting a roughing call as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

The game ended with Pittsburgh winning comfortably 4-2. Pens goalie Matt Murray stopped 26 out of 28 shots for a .929 SV% while opposing goalie Andrei Vasilevsky stopped 44 out of an insane 48 shots for a .917 SV%. Pittsburgh led in shots (48-28), and faceoffs (34-30). While Tampa led in hits (30-16), blocked shots (13-12), giveaways (11-8), and penalty minutes (20-6). Pittsburgh went 1/3 on the PP while Tampa Bay went 0/3.

These two clubs will take a day off and play again on Friday night here in Tampa, Florida with puck drop at 8 pm. Tampa will hopefully get goalie Ben Bishop back in net from injury.

Lightning Win Game 1, Lead Eastern Conference Final 1-0

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1The Tampa Bay Lightning were victorious on road ice in Game 1 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday night.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves on 26 shots faced for a .962 SV% in 46:55 TOI in the win, while Matt Murray made just 17 saves for the Penguins on 20 shots faced for a .850 SV% in the loss. Ben Bishop played just 12:25, made 9 saves on 9 shots against and left the game with an injury in the first period.

Ryan Callahan took a five-minute major penalty for boarding Penguins defenseman, Kris Letang, almost three minutes into the first period. Letang remained down on the ice briefly, before being helped up by the Penguins training staff and skating off on his own power and walking to the locker room. He would return later in the first period.

Ben Bishop went down with a lower body injury a little over twelve minutes into the first period after trying to handle the puck in the trapezoid. Bishop skated to reach the puck, mishandled it and quickly tried to get back into position in the crease. He awkwardly extended his left leg and fell backward as the puck skipped by and the refs blew the whistle for the Lightning athletic training staff to tend to his injury. Bishop suffered a similar lower body injury in last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Bishop was stretchered off the ice and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Anredi Vasilevskiy replaced Bishop in goal and Kristers Gudlevskis soon worked his way to the Tampa bench in the second period to serve as the Lightning’s backup in case Vasilevskiy went down.

Alex Killorn kicked off the scoring for the Lightning when he sent a backhand past Matt Murray on a breakaway for the 1-0 lead. Killorn’s goal was his 4th of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was assisted by Victor Hedman (6) at 18:46 of the first period.

Tyler Johnson was injured on a hit along the boards late in the first period and appeared to have suffered a lower body injury, if not at least a leg or knee injury. He returned to Tampa’s bench in the second period.

After twenty minutes of play the Bolts led 1-0 on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh led in shots on goal (10-6) and faceoff wins (9-7) after the first period and Tampa led in hits (16-14) and blocked shots (6-4), while both teams recorded two giveaways and three takeaways each. The Lightning had yet to see the man advantage after one and the Penguins were 0/1 on the power play through twenty minutes of play.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoEvgeni Malkin hooked Victor Hedman just 1:46 into the second period and was sent to the penalty box for a minor infraction, giving Tampa their first power play opportunity of the night. The Lightning went right to work on the man advantage and peppered Murray with a couple of decent chances.

Valtteri Filppula found Ondrej Palat as he was crashing the net on a rebound. Palat backhanded the puck while he was falling past an out of position Murray for his 3rd goal of the postseason. Filppula (4) and Jason Garrison (5) picked up the assists on the power play goal that was scored at 2:33 of the second period.

With a 2-0 lead the Lightning set into a rhythm.

Nikita Nesterov gave Pittsburgh a power play after hooking Conor Sheary at 7:50 of the second period. The Penguins were unable to convert on the man advantage. Likewise the Bolts were unable to convert on their man advantage three minutes later when Matt Cullen tripped Hedman.

At 18:25 of the second period, Jonathan Drouin potted his 2nd goal of the playoffs on a one timer from Palat as the Lightning entered the offensive zone on a 3-on-1 rush. Palat (3) and Filppula (5) notched the assists on Drouin’s goal that made it 3-0 Tampa Bay.

A mere 24 seconds later, Hedman tripped Sheary and set the Penguins up with another power play. This time, Patric Hornqvist fired a shot past Vasilevskiy and Pittsburgh scored six seconds into the power play, thus ending the shutout bid for Vasilevskiy and cutting the Lightning’s lead to two. The goal read as Hornqvist’s 6th of the postseason, assisted by Sidney Crosby (8) and Phil Kessel (8) at 19:05 of the 2nd.

Tampa Bay still went into the second intermission with a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh continued to lead in shots on goal (19-15) and faceoff wins (26-10), while the Lightning led in hits (28-24) and blocked shots (15-9). Both teams had three giveaways and three takeaways each. The Bolts were 1/2 on the power play and the Pens were 1/3 on the man advantage after forty minutes of play.

With the exception of shots on goal and lots of saves, not much happened in the third period. There was no more scoring in the game and only a couple more penalties distributed.

Ondrej Palat drilled Brian Dumoulin into the boards face first 15:14 into the third period and received a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, as Dumoulin took some time to gather himself and be helped off the ice by his teammates, Nick Bonino and Kris Letang. Penguins fans were not pleased and it was the fourth time in the night that a player required extra time to recover from a potential injury on a play in the game.

With less than three minutes to go, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, called for Murray to vacate the goal in exchange for an extra attacker in a last ditch effort for Pittsburgh to try to tie the game and at least force overtime, if not score three goals to win it before the end of regulation.

But the extra skater was to no avail as the Penguins iced the puck a couple of times, forcing Matt Murray back into the goal, and the Lightning held off the Pittsburgh offense.

Hornqvist took one last penalty as time expired for cross checking Matt Carle at 20:00 of the third.

The Penguins finished the night leading in shots on goal (35-20), faceoff wins (35-23) and giveaways (9-4). The Lightning had not only won the game 3-1, but had also ended the night with an advantage in hits (40-31), takeaways (6-4) and blocked shots (20-10). Tampa finished the night 1/2 on the power play and Pittsburgh finished the night 1/4.

This is the Penguins first visit back to the Eastern Conference Final since 2013 when they were swept by the Boston Bruins. The Lightning are making their second appearance in a row in the Eastern Conference Final, having defeated the New York Rangers last year in the 2015 Eastern Conference Final en route to an unsuccessful Stanley Cup Final run against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In other news and notes…

Heading into Game 1 the Tampa Bay Lightning had not lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the regular season in all three occasions. The Lightning had scored at least four or more goals in each of their wins against Pittsburgh, with their most recent victory having been a 4-2 win at CONSOL Energy Center on February 20th.

Game 1 marked the fourth time in the past 35 years in which both goalies were 21 years old or younger, as noted by Elias Sports. A 20-year-old, Tom Barrasso, of the Buffalo Sabres faced a 21-year-old, Mario Gosselin, of the Québec Nordiques in the 1985 Division Semifinals, while Bill Ranford of the Boston Bruins and Patrick Roy of the Montréal Canadiens squared off as 19 and 20 year olds and then 20 and 21 year olds, respectively in the 1986 and the 1987 Division Semifinals prior to last night’s 21-year-old matchup of Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Sidney Crosby’s assist was his 83rd career playoff assist and moved him past Jaromir Jagr (82 assists) for sole possession of the second most playoff assists in Penguins franchise history.

Tampa Bay now has a 1-0 series lead heading into Game 2 on Monday night in Pittsburgh. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET and the game will be televised on NBCSN in the United States and CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.

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.

Saad, Blackhawks Even Series 2-2

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2It was a valiant effort for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final that ultimately paid out with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Wednesday night.

Corey Crawford backstopped the Blackhawks to the win, having turned aside 24 of 25 shots faced. Brandon Saad’s game winning goal in the 3rd period ensured that the series would be tied, 2-2, heading back to Tampa on Saturday night for Game 5.

The Lightning, meanwhile, listed Ben Bishop as “day to day” with an injury, thereby making Andrei Vasilevskiy the 6th goaltender in history to make his first career playoff start in the Stanley Cup Final. Vasilevsky is also the youngest goalie to start in a Stanley Cup Final game since Patrick Roy, in 1993. Despite a 17 save effort on 19 shots against, Vasilevsky earned his 1st career playoff loss.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Entering the night Vasilevskiy and his backup for the night, Kristers Gudlevskis had a combined 9 career NHL wins. Vasilevskiy is not alone in losing his 1st career playoff start in a Stanley Cup Final game, as Jussi Markkanen was the most recent to do so in 2006 with the Edmonton Oilers- having recorded a 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

For Chicago, Kyle Cumiskey, was a healthy scratch on the blue line in favor of defenseman, Kimmo Timonen. It was Timonen’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers who happened to lose that night at the Wachovia Center (now Wells Fargo Center), 4-3, in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks.

22,354 people packed into the Madhouse on Madison witnessed an undisciplined 1st period as both teams took numerous penalties, as well as an unusual performance by the Blackhawks coming out of the gate. The Lightning quickly got 2 shots on goal, but the Blackhawks went over eight minutes without a shot on goal. At 8:17, Chicago recorded their first shot on goal. About a minute later, Brent Seabrook took the game’s first penalty.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks defenseman was sent to the sin bin for interference, resulting in a power play for Tampa. The Lightning were unable to score on the man advantage and took a penalty of their own at 11:41 of the 1st period, when Jason Garrison was sent to the box for interference.

A minute later, Chicago’s power play was cut short, in favor of 4 on 4 action as Jonathan Toews was guilty of a high stick that caught Victor Hedman up high.

At 16:33, Kimmo Timonen was sent to the box for hooking and Tampa Bay once again went on the power play in a scoreless game. The Lightning were unsuccessful and swapped man advantages with the Blackhawks at 19:08 of the 1st period, when Alex Killorn was sent to the penalty box for high sticking.

After twenty minutes of play Chicago and Tampa were scoreless, with the Lightning leading shots on goal 9-2. The Blackhawks had gone 0 for 2 on the power play in the period, while the Lightning went 0 for 3 on the man advantage.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Chicago began to take some control of the game flow in the 2nd period, eventually outshooting the Lightning 12-8 in the period.

Nearly seven minutes into the second frame, Jonathan Toews found the back of the net for the game’s first goal and his 10th of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa picked up assists on Toews’s goal.

Brent Seabrook found his way to the penalty box for his 2nd time of the night at 7:19 of the 2nd period for cross checking J.T. Brown along the wall in Chicago’s defensive zone. The Lightning, in keeping with the special teams trend on the evening, did not score on the ensuing power play.

The Blackhawks 1-0 lead did not last for long, like the rest of the games in the series so far, as 5:07 after Toews scored, Tampa forward, Alex Killorn fired home his 9th of the playoffs.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Killorn’s goal at 11:47 of the 2nd period was assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos. Stamkos earned his first point since Game 5 against the New York Rangers in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals with the assist and gave Killorn 3 goals in the last 5 games as a result.

The Hawks outshot the Bolts 8-0 after Killorn’s goal as the 2nd period came to an end. Chicago also dominated faceoff wins, 23-15, and led in blocked shots, 16-14.

Tampa still outshot the Blackhawks, 17-14, at the end of forty minutes of play and led in hits, 30-22. Both teams were powerless on the power play with Chicago still 0 for 2 and the Lightning having gone 0 for 4.

Steven Stamkos was quickly penalized to begin the 3rd period, for sending the puck out of play, over the glass, thus earning a delay of game penalty at 1:04 of the period. Chicago had already fired two quick shots on goal and looked as though they would soon be leading the shots on goal category, but the Lightning soon responded with a few shots of their own after killing off Stamkos’s penalty.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At 6:22 of the 3rd, Brandon Saad capitalized on a quirky play and pocketed his 8th goal of the postseason. Patrick Kane was credited with the lone assist on Saad’s goal, which had given the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead that they’d hold onto for the rest of the night.

Chicago survived Tampa’s desperate surge and the tremendous gain in the game’s already furious pace, staving off 6 shots on goal by the Lightning (and plenty more that went wide or were blocked). Tampa pulled Vasilevskiy with about a 90 seconds on the clock, in desperation, as Stamkos shot wide a couple of times and ran out of puck luck at the most inopportune winding seconds of the game.

Time expired and the Blackhawks took Game 4, 2-1. The Lightning led in shots on goal, 25-19, and hits, 46-34, while Chicago dominated faceoff wins, 38-20, and led blocked shots, 23-17. Chicago finished the night 0 for 3 on the power play and Tampa finished 0 for 4 with the extra man.

Unknown-1Game 4 was the fourth game in the series to be decided by 1 goal. The loss relegated the Tampa Bay Lightning to 8-4 on the road in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, despite having the worst regular season road record among teams that made the playoffs. With an extra day off between Games 4 and 5, Ben Bishop will have 4 days off between starts (assuming he starts in Game 5).

The Stanley Cup Final is tied 2-2 for the 5th time in 7 years, including all three Finals involving the Blackhawks in recent years (2010, 2013, and 2015). Game 5 will be Saturday night at 8 PM EST from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Television coverage will be on NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Paquette Lifts Lightning Late in 3rd for 2-1 Series Lead

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning were unafraid of the United Center and the 22,336 Chicago Blackhawks fans inside as they pulled off a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. Tampa now leads the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Bishop made 36 saves on 38 shots faced in the sixty minute effort, while losing goaltender, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, saved 29 of the 32 shots he faced. Cedric Paquette’s 3rd goal of the playoffs at 16:49 of the 3rd period was enough to be the game winning goal and steal a win in Chicago for the Lightning.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Game 3 opened up with a frantic pace from opening puck drop. At 5:09 of the 1st period, Ryan Callahan sent one past Crawford for his 2nd of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead for Tampa. Callahan was awaiting entry in the offensive zone at the far blue line as Victor Hedman found him from the defensive end and sent a great pass up and across the ice, giving Callahan a clear shot to the net.

Hedman got his first of two assists on the night from Callahan’s 1st period goal and J.T. Brown registered his first assist of the playoffs on the goal as well. Tampa had been leading shots on goal, 5-3, by that point, but the Blackhawks were about to go on a shooting spree, without allowing a shot on goal by the Lightning, since Callahan’s goal.

It was the 3rd straight game in which Tampa scored first.

4 on 4 action saw some time at 8:12 of the opening frame as Tampa’s Braydon Coburn was sent to the box for tripping Marian Hossa and Chicago’s Brandon Saad saw the sin bin for cross checking Valtteri Filppula. Hossa missed a wide-open net as he was brought down by Coburn’s errant stick.

Coburn wouldn’t keep his name off the box score under penalties for long as he went back to the sin bin at 12:42 for hooking, as Coburn’s stick tugged on Saad’s jersey shortly after the two of them were released from the box minutes before. The Lightning nearly killed the penalty, but former Lightning star, Brad Richards, had other plans in mind.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Richards received a pass from Hossa in the high slot and fired the puck past Bishop with Andrew Shaw perfecting the screen in front.

The power play goal was the 3rd goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Richards and was his first goal in the Stanley Cup Final since Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final as a member of Tampa Bay against Calgary.

The 1st period ended with the scoreboard reading 1-1 and shots on goal, 19-7, in favor of Chicago. Tampa had double the hits than the Blackhawks (18-9) and led in blocked shots 9-4. The Blackhawks had a slight advantage in faceoff wins over the Lightning, 14-10. Chicago had also gone 1 for 1 on the power play in the first twenty minutes, whereas Tampa had yet to have had a power play opportunity on the night.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Penalties abounded in the 2nd period. Nikita Kucherov put Chicago on the power play after tripping Johnny Oduya 8:53 into the period. The Blackhawks were unable to convert on the man advantage. Tampa went on the power play at 15:18 of the 2nd period when Chicago forward, Bryan Bickell, was given a roughing penalty.

The Lightning then had a 5-on-3 advantage as Brandon Saad returned to the penalty box for his second time of the night, this time for goaltender interference at 15:52 of the period.

Despite tightening the shots on goal advantage, Tampa could not muster enough on the puck during the 1:26 of the 5-on-3 power play they had to beat Crawford. The Blackhawks killed both penalties and resumed full strength play, finishing the period with a 26-24 shots on goal advantage.

Although they trailed in shots at the end of the 1st period, the Lightning had a 17 shots on goal in the 2nd period, compared to Chicago’s 7 shots on goal.

It wasn’t long before the action really picked up in the 3rd period. Riding the momentum of end to end action, including an Antoine Vermette breakaway that was denied by Bishop, the Blackhawks didn’t waste time to get going and feed off of the energy of the crowd.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At 4:14 of the 3rd, Brandon Saad snuck his 7th goal of the postseason past Ben Bishop with the help of Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith for a 2-1 Blackhawks lead.

But the Madhouse on Madison wasn’t shaking for long. 13 seconds later, Ondrej Palat answered with a goal of his own for the Lightning at 4:27 of the 3rd period. Kucherov and Tyler Johnson were credited with assists on Palat’s 8th of the playoffs.

The pair of goals were the 3rd fastest span of goals swapped between two teams in Stanley Cup Final history. Suddenly, the game was back to a tie, only this time it was 2-2.

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The minutes began winding down, with the seconds ticking quickly, as each minute passed. After a stoppage shortly after the halfway mark of the period, Chicago was outshooting Tampa, 34-29.

With 3:11 remaining in the game, Cedric Paquette capitalized on a Blackhawks blunder and scored his 3rd of the postseason, with help from Hedman and Callahan. It was now a 3-2 lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Per the NHL, 61.6% of playoff games this year have been either tied or within one goal entering the final 5 minutes of regulation and Game 3 was no exception.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

What’s more is that 8 of the last 10 games between the Blackhawks and the Lightning have been decided by one goal dating back to 2011, and including all three of this year’s Stanley Cup Final games so far.

A little under two minutes left in regulation, Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford in hopes that an extra skater for the Blackhawks would be enough to at least salvage an overtime effort in front of their home crowd. Despite multiple chances on offensive zone faceoffs, Chicago was unable to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The Blackhawks finished the game with 38 shots on goal compared to the Lightning’s 32 shots on net and led faceoff wins 39-28. Meanwhile the Lightning led in hits, 46-27, and blocked shots, 19-14. Chicago was 1 for 2 on the power play for the night, while Tampa went 0 for 2 on the extra man advantage.

Jonathan Drouin was once again out of the lineup for Tampa in favor of nonfactor, Nikita Nesterov. For Chicago, Bryan Bickell made his presence known, but Trevor van Riemsdyk had a quiet game, as the two replaced David Rundblad and Kris Versteeg in the lineup.

Unknown-2Game 3’s final outcome marked the first time since 2010 that the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final were all decided by a goal. In 2010, Chicago beat Philadelphia in Game 1, 6-5, and 2-1 in Game 2. The Flyers defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime, in Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

The fourth installment of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final will be Wednesday night at 8 PM EST in Chicago, live from the United Center on NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning head into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Vermette scores game winning goal, Blackhawks win Game 1

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 1 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2A full house at Amalie Arena for Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final went from being louder than thunder to silent in a span of 1 minute, 58 seconds in the 3rd period as the Chicago Blackhawks triumphed the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Teuvo Tervainen and Antoine Vermette had the game tying and game winning goals, respectively, for Blackhawks and Chicago goalie, Corey Crawford, made 22 saves on 23 shots faced in the win. Tampa’s Ben Bishop made 19 saves on 21 shots against in the loss for the Lightning. Chicago leads the series 1-0.

Despite a goal from Alex Killorn at 4:31 of the 1st period, the Lightning fell to 9-1 overall in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when scoring first. Killorn’s goal was his 8th of the playoffs. His goal came on a crafty no look, lacrosse move inspired, turn around deflection. The shot originated from an Anton Stralman slapper from the point after Stralman had received a pass from Valtteri Filppula.Unknown-1

Of interest, Killorn became the first Harvard University alumnus to score a goal in Stanley Cup Final history.

Less than two minutes later Chicago forward, Andrew Shaw, took a minor penalty for tripping Tampa forward, Ondrej Palat. The Lightning’s power play was ineffective and the Blackhawks survived the short-handed play. At 16:48, Chicago received a power play of their own as Tampa defenseman, Jason Garrison, was called for cross checking Blackhawks forward, Marcus Kruger.

In spite of a few chances on the power play, the Blackhawks were unable to get on the board and even the score before the end of the first period. The Lightning were held shot less in the final eight minutes of the period.

Twenty-eight seconds into the 2nd period, Brandon Saad took a high stick from Killorn. Tampa killed the ensuing Chicago power play, but found themselves shorthanded yet again at 9:48 of the 2nd period for having too many men on the ice. The bench minor was served by Lightning captain and superstar forward, Steven Stamkos, and the penalty was once again killed by Tampa’s penalty killing unit.

At 13:28 of the period, Chicago’s Kris Versteeg was tripped into Tampa goaltender, Ben Bishop, but was instead questionably called for goaltender interference himself. With Versteeg in the box, the Lightning went on another unsuccessful power play, as neither team scored on special team opportunities.

No penalties were called in the 3rd period, thereby ending Chicago’s night on the power play at 0 for 3 and Tampa’s at 0 for 2.

Tampa Bay was outshooting Chicago 18-15 before the midway mark of the 3rd period, but began to allow more and more chances for the Blackhawks. With 9:27 to go in the game, shots on goal were tied 18-18. The young roster of the Lightning, which includes 12 players under the age of 25 (not necessarily all in the lineup), began to show signs of deteriorating with a 1-0 lead- held since the 1st period.

CGofhUXU8AALZSuTeuvo Tervainen scored his 3rd goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 13:28 of the 3rd period, tying the game, 1-1. Teravainen’s goal was assisted by Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw.

1:58 later, the acquisition made just prior to the trade deadline in March for the Blackhawks, proved his worth once again with a huge goal for Chicago. Antoine Vermette gave the Blackhawks the 2-1 lead with his 3rd goal of the playoffs with help from Teravainen.

With about a minute remaining in the game, Tampa pulled Bishop for an extra attacker, but was unable to tie the game and force overtime. Chicago improved to 5-5 on the road in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Tampa fell to 5-6 at home in the playoffs.

The Lightning outshot the Blackhawks 23-21 in Game 1 and led in hits (29-21), faceoff wins (30-27), and blocked shots (15-11).

For the first time since 1983, the team with the most goals scored in the regular season and the team with the fewest goals allowed in the regular season are meeting in the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa, having been the team with the most goals scored, is trying to become the first team to lead the league in goals scored and win the Cup in the same season since the 1991-1992 Pittsburgh Penguins did so.

Meanwhile, the league’s best defense, the Chicago Blackhawks, are trying to become the first team to win three Stanley Cup titles in a six-season span since the Detroit Red Wings did so from 1996-1997 through 2001-2002.

In the previous four instances of the best offense meeting the best defense in the Final, the best defensive team has won every time.

Chicago is eyeing their 6th Stanley Cup championship in franchise history, while Tampa is trying to earn their 2nd Cup in franchise history in as many appearances in the Finals.

The Blackhawks lead the series 1-0 heading into Game 2 on Saturday night at Amalie Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 PM EST on NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Bolts Strike Twice and Beat Rangers, Stamkos Leads the Way to a 3-2 Series Lead

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

Unknown-1The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. The first line from Tampa stepped up with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula each scoring a goal in the second period. Ben Bishop and Tampa’s defense found a way to keep the Ranger’s off the board entirely, earning Bishop the shutout.

The first period saw few chances for both teams, along with a lot of scrappy play and board battles. Tampa had a quick chance in the first minute of the game, when Tyler Johnson got a shot wide of the net. The Rangers also had a few chances on a 2 on 1 breakout led by Martin St. Louis but it was stopped by Bishop. Nearly 4 minutes into the period Tampa took the game’s first penalty, as the Lightning were called for too many men on the ice.

On the ensuing power play, quick passing from the Rangers gave Chris Kreider a great chance that hit the side of the net. About 3 minutes later the Rangers took their first penalty, when Marc Staal was penalized for interference. New York held their blue line and didn’t give up any major chances while on the penalty kill.

The game then transitioned to many battles along the boards and a lot of grind-it-out play. New York held Tampa in their defensive zone for a decent amount of the period. Tampa was struggling to get their offense going and frustration took over as Johnson took a slashing penalty with 5 minutes remaining in the period. The Lightning then killed off the penalty kill with ease. Offense was a rarity during the period as the Rangers only had 6 shots on goal and Tampa had a measly 4 shots on goal through 20 minutes of play.

New York Rangers LogoTampa got yet another quick start to the second period, similar to the first period. This time it was Stamkos alone in front, after a turnover, firing a wrist shot that was matched by Lundqvist’s glove hand. Riding the momentum of the save, the Rangers had an upper hand on the game-playing along the boards, behind the net. This made a terrific chance for Derek Stepan, as he sent a one-timer on Bishop that was denied.

Tampa then took a series of penalties; the first one came at 7:19 of the period for a high stick from Jason Garrison on Rick Nash. The penalty kill for Tampa was unmatched by the New York’s power play unit and actually created a chance for Alex Killorn on a 2 on 1 heading the other way, but was denied by Lundqvist. Tampa killed off Garrison’s penalty, but found themselves shorthanded again a minute later as Andrej Sustr tripped Carl Hagelin. Similar to the last penalty kill, the Lightning made the kill and only allowed Rick Nash a chance that was thwarted by Bishop.

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Finally, Valtteri Filppula scored the game’s first goal as Stamkos received a stretch pass from Anton Stralman, who then passed it to Filppula in the slot, putting it past Lundqvist with six minutes remaining in the period. Tampa had found their offense and began to establish the zone and eventually was able to draw a penalty, that sent Marc Staal to the box for tripping with 3 minutes remaining in period.

The Lightning didn’t pass up the opportunity to double their lead, as Steven Stamkos rocketed home his seventh of the playoff, with help from Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat on the power play. Ben Bishop had stopped all 16 of New York’s shots to this point and Lundqvist’s numbers weren’t looking as good with 13 saves on 15 shots.

The third period witnessed a strong defensive performance by the Lightning and saw the Rangers try everything to get their offense going. Even though the Rangers were on the attack from the opening faceoff of the period, Tampa managed to pressure in their offensive zone and brought a penalty on New York. Chris Kreider went to the sin bin for a delay of game penalty. Tampa couldn’t amount anything on the power play and the Rangers killed it off.

New York juggled their lines in hopes of seeing a result and had a line consisting of Nash, Stepan, and Kreider that created a great chance after Nash spun around a pass to Stepan for the one timer, but Ben Bishop was there to make the save. New York was dominating play and it was tilted in their favor, but couldn’t beat Bishop try after try.

The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with 3 minutes left and a minute later Palat and Brassard took matching minor penalties for slashing. The clock counted down to zero and gave Ben Bishop another shut out in this year’s playoffs. Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced, while Lundqvist allowed 2 goals on 22 shots.

Tampa’s defense was the story of Game 5, as they protected Bishop and preserved the shutout. The Lightning’s penalty kill was also strong in Game 5, forcing the Rangers empty handed on the man advantage- New York wound up 0 for 4 on power plays. The first line continued to produce with both Stamkos and Filppula scoring goals. The Rangers got the type of game they wanted with a low scoring game, but couldn’t find a way past Ben Bishop. The series is now 3-2 in favor of Tampa, with Game 6 back in Tampa, Florida at Amalie Arena on May 26th at 8 pm with televised coverage on NBCSN.