Saturday night is Charlie Sheen night in Bakersfield

The Bakersfield Condors scored 3 straight goals for a 5-4 comeback win against the Idaho Steelheads on Friday night. In case the fans didn’t get enough of it, the two teams renewed pleasantries on Saturday night. Same teams, same place, same bat channel. The joys of the ECHL. The Condors have clinched a playoff spot in the ECHL’s Western Conference and current sit in the 5th spot 3 points ahead of the Utah Grizzlies.

Why are we talking about the ECHL you ask? Well, when a team announces a Charlie Sheen night in honor of the troubled actor, they’ve earned themselves a little love. Of course, “troubled” is the nicest adjective we can use here—and we’re using the term “actor” loosely, but both currently apply.

Here’s a description of the creative promotion the Condors were hosting this evening at Rabobank Arena in beautiful Bakersfield, CA.

* Wear a fedora, or dress like any Charlie Sheen movie character and receive admission for two and a half bucks ($2.50).
* Bring a clean drug test and receive free admission.
* 2-for-1 Tiger Blood Icees and snow cones for the kids.
* The first 1,000 males will receive a Charlie Sheen face on a stick mask.
* Follow the Condors on twitter and we’re confident you won’t be nearly as entertained as if you followed Charlie Sheen on twitter. However, the Condors are inviting everyone to sign up to follow the Condors on twitter, and if we beat Charlie’s Guinness World Record of reaching one million followers in less than 25 hours and 17 minutes, we’ll let Charlie rename the team, as he seems to have a lot of creative ideas lately.
* Bring $2 million (reportedly as much as Charlie doesn’t earn with each cancelled episode) and you can own the Condors!
* Charlie’s dubbed “Goddesses” (Natalie Kenly and Rachel Oberlin) have been named as honorary captains for the game. We’re guessing the Steelheads won’t mind if they get to hang out on the bench.
* A rock band from Mars will play in front of the arena on the plaza before the game.
* Before this game, the Condors aren’t going to practice, attempting to channel Sheen’s no-rehearsal-required spirit. After all, to quote the great Allen Iverson, “We’re talkin’ about practice?!”

“We picked this date for the Charlie Sheen Night because we figured St. Patrick’s Day was a Holiday that Charlie enjoyed celebrating,” said Condors President Matthew Riley. “We would invite him come up to the game and participate in a ceremonial puck drop and just have fun for the night with our fans. We’ll even give him the ticket special for dressing up like himself.”

“And oh yeah, to stick with the Charlie Sheen theme, we plan on ‘winning’ the game.”

Unfortunately, neither Charlie Sheen, nor promotional St. Patrick’s Day jerseys were able to get a huge boost at the gate. In the most important number for the owners in Bakersfield, the attendance was 5,501 on Saturday night. The number was a slight boost from their 4.996 average crowd—but only last night they had 6,811 people in the stands. A boost is a boost—but probably not what they were expecting. Oh, and for the hockey fans, the Condors won again by a score of 2-1.

Nikita Kucherov is trying to carry the Lightning to the playoffs

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Every time you think the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff chances might be finished this season, they always find a way to keep them alive and stay in the race.

Thanks to their 2-1 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, the Lightning were able to keep pace with the New York Islanders and move to within a single point of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as we prepare to enter the final weeks of the regular season. It is still pretty amazing to think about them being this close to a playoff spot when you consider the injuries the team has dealt with this season. Steven Stamkos, their best player, has not played since November. Their center depth has been decimated in recent weeks with Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov all missing significant time in the month of March. They traded Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula at the trade deadline for nothing that will help this current team.

And yet, here they are, still right in the thick of the playoff race.

If they are able to pull this off and get one of the eight spots in the Eastern Conference is going to be because Nikita Kucherov has pretty much put the team on his back over the past month and single handedly carried it to one.

Kucherov scored another massive goal on Friday night when he scored the overtime winner in Detroit, and is currently in the middle of a four-game stretch where he has scored a goal in every game (for a total of seven) and recorded multiple points in each one (for a total of nine). If you go back over the past month, a stretch where the Lightning have managed to go 10-5-1 over a 16-game stretch to remain in the race, Kucherov has been the best offensive player in the league by a wide margin.

Since that stretch began on Feb. 20, Kucherov has scored 17 goals (four more than any other player in the league) and recorded 29 total points (eight more than any other player) to be the single biggest driving force behind the Lightning offense. His 29 points during that stretch mean he has had a hand (scoring or assisting) in 66 percent of the team’s goals (they have 44 during that stretch). He has scored close to 40 percent of them himself.

It is all part of an incredible season that has seen Kucherov climb to the top-five in the league in scoring even though he has missed seven games.

His 1.16 point per game average is third in the league among players that have played at least 60 games, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, and he is only 0.02 points off of McDavid’s pace. He is doing that while owning a 56 percent Corsi percentage that is in the top-25 of the entire league.

He has been one of the most dominant players in the league this season, and has taken his game to an entirely new level in the past month just when the Lightning have needed it most. If they get in, it’s going to be because of him.

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.