Tampa Bay and Montreal complete a minor league deal

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Tell me if you’ve heard this line this summer:  Tampa Bay makes a deal to acquire someone from the Montreal Canadiens. This time around, the teams have made a minor-league trade of goaltenders as the Lightning have sent one-time prospect goalie Karri Ramo to the Canadiens in exchange for AHL all-star goalie Cedrick Desjardins.This deal works out to be rather interesting for both teams.

For Tampa Bay, they acquire yet another player that Lightning head coach Guy Boucher is familiar with and he’ll get to develop his game more in the Lightning minor leagues. The one issue there is that the Lightning are loaded with goaltending prospects at the moment. Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have the NHL jobs locked down and they have Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus ready to go in the minors as well. Throwing Desjardins into the mix means that one of Tokarski, Janus or Desjardins will be playing for the Lightning’s new ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades. At least they’ll be playing nearby.

For Montreal, they gain a guy who once had top prospect status with the Lightning in Karri Ramo. Ramo spent last year playing for Jaromir Jagr’s KHL team Avangard Omsk. While you’d like to think that Ramo getting a new change of scenery might bring him back from Russia, earlier this summer he stated that he was going to play out his two-year contract with Omsk.

Ramo’s agent, Mark Gandler, said Friday that his client could have opted out of the second year of his two-year contract, but decided in early May to stay. Tampa Bay was between general managers at the time. Gandler declined comment when asked if that affected the process.

Ramo, 24, was 21-17-4 in 44 games for Omsk with a 2.11 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and four shutouts. Gandler said Ramo, who still is Lightning property, would like to return to Tampa Bay after his stint in Russia.

“If the stars align, we’ll get it done.” Gandler said.

Whether this trade changes Ramo’s mind to come back sooner than he expected remains to be seen and I’m sure we’ll hear more about this soon given how Montreal might want to have him close at hand should Carey Price struggle or Alex Auld get hurt. Ideally for Ramo, this deal frees him up to be the next in line for the Habs. We’ll see how committed to Russia he is or if the Habs have another trick up their sleeve.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

Many believe that hit was legal:

The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

(Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.