khabibulin cup

Lecavalier, St. Louis hope Lightning fans salute Khabibulin


In one of those weird twists of fate resulting from a conference change and some wacky scheduling, Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin will play in Tampa Bay on Thursday for the first time since leading the Lightning to victory in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The 2004 Stanley Cup finals.

Yeah, he hasn’t played in Tampa in eight years.

More, from Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times:

It’s amazing Khabibulin has gone eight years without playing in Tampa. Part of that is he has spent those years with the Blackhawks and Oilers, teams that have not come to town that often. The first time the Blackhawks came to Tampa during the 2005-06 season after Khabibulin signed with them as a free agent, coach Trent Yawney decided to not play Khabibulin, saying it would be too much of a distraction. Two other times, once with Chicago and once with Edmonton, Khabibulin was injured.

He did, though, did beat the Lightning in November 2007, in Chicago, with 21 saves in a 5-1 win; and in December 2010, in Edmonton, with 38 saves in a 4-3 shootout win.

A few things have happened to the Lightning since Khabibulin last played in Tampa Bay.

— The arena changed names (from the St. Petersburg Times Forum to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.)

— The Lightning have had four head coaches (John Tortorella, Barry Melrose, Rick Tocchet, Guy Boucher.)

— Only two members of the 2004 Cup-winning team remain: Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

Speaking of Vinny and Marty, they’re hopeful Bolts fans will welcome Khabibulin back in style.

“I hope they give him an ovation,” St. Louis said. “I’d clap.

“I appreciate that year [2004] so much with what we’ve gone through last year, getting this far and not winning it, and this year. It seems so long ago and I owe a lot of that to Habby.”

Lecavalier was also full of praise for his former goalie.

“He’s a big part of Tampa and its history with the Lightning,” Lecavalier said. “He definitely deserves [applause].

“He’s one of those goalies that stole games. I hope the fans give him a nice welcome back. He was a huge part of our team. He’s a great goaltender and a great guy. I think the fans definitely will treat him well.”

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

Leave a comment

Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?

Hellebuyck debuts with victory as Jets best Wild

Connor Hellebuyck
1 Comment

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 14 saves to win his NHL debut and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled left winger Zach Parise‘s return from a knee injury by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Friday.

Mathieu Perreault added his second goal in two games and Nikolaj Ehlers‘ goal late in the third put the game away.

The Jets won on the road for the first time in their last seven tries and for just the third time in their last 11 games.

Ryan Carter scored for Minnesota, finally getting a shot past Hellebuyck that made it 2-1 midway through the third period.

Hellebuyck was college hockey’s top goalie in 2013-14 and the goaltender on the U.S. team that won a bronze medal in the 2015 world championships.

Minnesota finished with a season-low 15 shots, which was also a season low in shots allowed for the Jets.

Wild fans at the Xcel Energy Center let out a roar when it was announced before the game that Parise would start, but not even his return could spark Minnesota.

After Jason Zucker was whistled for an elbowing penalty behind the net, Perreault took a pass from Byfuglien and zipped it past Devan Dubnyk to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 3:34 left in the second period.

Byfuglien made it 2-0 early in the third when his odd-angle shot hit Dubnyk in the back of the skate and went in for his seventh goal.

Carter’s goal bounced off of Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart and past Hellebuyck to give Minnesota some momentum.

The rookie didn’t get rattled, however, stopping a big shot from Jason Pominville with 3:11 to play.

Just 11 seconds later, Ehlers got loose on a breakaway and put the game away.

Winnipeg’s defense came into the game ranked 29th in goals allowed, but had little problem preventing Minnesota from generating quality scoring chances.

The Wild have just one win in their last six games. Parise was Minnesota’s leading scorer when he sprained a knee ligament on Nov. 5.

NOTES: Wild F Justin Fontaine missed his 11th game with a sprained MCL, but has a chance to return for Saturday’s game against Dallas according to coach Mike Yeo. … The Wild went 4-3-1 without Parise. … Jets RW Blake Wheeler had an assist and now has points in 18 of 24 games.

Blackhawks baffle Ducks with late magic; Kane’s streak at 18 games


The Chicago Blackhawks may not be at peak-level right now, but they’re still a tough team to finish off.

For most of Friday’s game, it seemed like the story would be about John Gibson possibly elbowing into the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 role, continuing that franchise carousel.

Instead, it was about yet another tremendous comeback for Chicago, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Artem Anisimov than scored the OT GWG.

Stunning stuff … though definitely not unprecedented.

With less than 30 seconds remaining, Patrick Kane grabbed an assist on Duncan Keith‘s 2-2 goal. Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, tying a record for America-born players.

For the Ducks, it’s yet another gut punch, one that makes you wonder how they’d fare in another playoff series against Chicago (if they can even get there … a big if).

Bruce Boudreau is bummed:

Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
Leave a comment

The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

Update: Washington managed a 4-2 win, giving the Capitals a four-game winning streak.

That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

/ominous music plays

If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

/even more ominous music

The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?