The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the thick of things in the Southeast Division and they’re going to be getting a little bit better soon. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier returned to the ice this morning for team practice. He was sporting a red non-contact jersey, but getting back on the ice nonetheless. It’s expected he’ll be able to return to the Lightning lineup in a week or two.
Lecavalier has been out the last few weeks with a broken hand suffered against Washington back on November 11th. While Lecavalier has been recovering from hand surgery, Steve Stamkos has officially taken over as the team’s main source of offense teaming up with Martin St. Louis to be one of the NHL’s top scoring tandems. Lecavalier will return to have Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone to skate with him on the second line. Both of those guys have had their issues scoring this year, but having Lecavalier return should help alleviate some of those problems.
The bigger problems in Tampa Bay, for now, surround having wildly inconsistent goaltending. If neither Dan Ellis nor Mike Smith can prove themselves to be capable of stopping pucks on a regular basis then the talk of having Evgeni Nabokov join the team when he returns to North America in the near future will only grow stronger.
Vasilevskiy shines again as Lightning take top spot in NHL
Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.
In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.
Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.
It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.
Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.
While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.
Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.
Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and Philadelphia from 1987 to 2000.
He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.
“We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family,” Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.
“This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family.”
Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.
Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.
He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.
Taylor Hall puts on a show as Devils end Kings’ winning streak
The New Jersey Devils put an end to the Los Angeles Kings’ eight-game winning streak on Tuesday night with a rather convincing 5-1 win.
The Devils dominated in pretty much every aspect of the game, limiting the Kings to just 17 shots on goal and scoring five goals against a team that had not allowed more than two goals (and never more than three) during its winning streak.
The star of the game for the Devils was most certainly forward Taylor Hall.
Hall continued what could be a career year with a pair of goals, including this highlight reel play in the second period that saw him force a turnover, split through the Kings’ defense (including Drew Doughty!), then beat Jonathan Quick with a backhander.
With that performance on Tuesday Hall is now up to 11 goals and 31 total points on the season.
His first year with the Devils wasn’t quite what he or the team wanted, but he has bounced back in a big way this season. His performance, along with the development of young players Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, and Jesper Bratt have the Devils back on track to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.