Brayden Point

Getty

Bolts storm back to defeat Capitals in overtime

4 Comments

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Lightning shut down the NHL’s top scorer and rallied from a two-goal deficit for a quality win.

Brayden Point scored on a power play in overtime, Tampa Bay held high-scoring Alex Ovechkin pointless and the Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Monday night.

“The team that deserved to win won tonight,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We were a determined group.”

Point redirected Nikita Kucherov‘s shot at 3:08 that came after the Capitals were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty.

Ovechkin entered with seven goals in Washington’s first two games this season.

Tampa Bay also got goals from Alex Killorn, Chris Kunitz and Kucherov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves.

T.J. Oshie had two goals and an assist, while Nicklas Backstrom added a goal and two assists for the Capitals. Philipp Grubauer stopped 36 shots in his first game of the season.

“The good and bad is, I thought we could have left here with two points and are leaving here with one,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said.

Kucherov tied it at three on an in-close backhander at 10:46 of the third.

Ovechkin had three goals in the third period in Thursday’s opening night win at Ottawa, then matched the feat while helping chase Montreal goalie Carey Price in the first period Saturday. He added his fourth goal in the second period against Al Montoya.

Ovechkin, bidding to become the first NHL player to have a hat trick in three consecutive games, had a power-play scoring chance from the left circle in the second turned aside by Vasilevskiy. He finished with four shots and was a minus-2

Backstrom and Oshie, on a power play deflection from the slot, scored 1:23 apart late in the first as Washington took a 2-0 lead.

After Killorn and Oshie, with the man advantage, traded goals early in the second, Kunitz’s redirection cut the deficit to 3-2 with 1:51 left in the period.

“A good building block for our team,” Kunitz said.

Grubauer made several strong saves, including Steven Stamkos‘ left circle drive, during an early third period power play.

Vasilevskiy stopped a first-period breakaway by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who got his eighth assist on Oshie’s second goal.

“We had a couple chances to make it 4-1 and we didn’t,” Trotz said. “They just chipped away.”

Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators

Getty

For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.

Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.

“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.

“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”

Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.

He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”

It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.

Bolts re-sign Peca after breakthrough campaign

Getty
2 Comments

On Wednesday, Tampa Bay re-upped with one of its feel-good stories from last season.

Matthew Peca, the undersized forward and former seventh-round pick, has signed a one-year, two-way extension with the club worth $650,000 at the NHL level.

Peca, 24, had a really nice ’16-17 campaign, highlighted by his NHL debut, his first big-league goal and 10 games played for the Bolts all told. In addition to that, he also thrived at the American League level. Peca had 12 goals and 41 points in 68 games for Syracuse during the regular season, then another 14 in 22 playoff games as he helped the Crunch advance to the Calder Cup Final.

Peca’s taken the long road to get to this point. He spent four full years at Quinnipiac University before transitioning to the pro game, then spent another two-and-half years with Syracuse before getting the call from the Bolts.

At just 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds Peca is undersized, but certainly in the right organization to thrive. Guys like Tyler Johnson (5-foot-8, 183), Cory Conacher (5-foot-8, 180), Yanni Gourde (5-foot-9, 172) and Brayden Point (5-foot-10, 166) have all found levels of success either with the big club, or the Crunch.

Auston Matthews claims Calder Memorial Trophy

1 Comment

Auston Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau in his rookie season, capturing the Calder Trophy on Wednesday after helping accelerate the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuilding process.

Selected first overall last year, Matthews made his mark on the NHL right away, scoring four goals in his very first game.

Talk about a debut.

He continued that elite offensive flare all the way through the regular season, finishing with 69 points and helping the Maple Leafs into the postseason.

Matthews beats out Patrik Laine, who had an impressive 36 goals and 64 points in Winnipeg, and Columbus rookie defenseman Zach Werenski.

The Calder Trophy goes to the league’s top rookie.

This was a truly impressive rookie class.

Matthews, who set a new American rookie goal record, has become the face of a franchise loaded with young talent, including Mitch Marner and William Nylander. With that injection of skilled youth into their lineup, the Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals all they could handle in the opening round, before eventually bowing out to Alex Ovechkin and the Caps.

His play certainly grabbed the attention of the league’s best players, including Sidney Crosby.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out is how he complete he is,” said Crosby earlier in the season. “That’s what I noticed from just watching him play. Just that maturity.

“His game is just so well-rounded. He’s a guy who can score goals but he’s a guy who can play away from the puck. He’s strong on the puck. He scores goals different ways, and that is probably a big reason why he is so consistent. He’s got a great shot, but he can also score from in close and goes to the net hard too.”

The winner of the award is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Here is how the voting turned out:

Points: (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Auston Matthews, TOR 1661 (164-3-0-0-0)
2. Patrik Laine, WPG 1106 (3-134-24-6-0)
3. Zach Werenski, CBJ 711 (0-21-93-28-15)
4. Matt Murray, PIT 346 (0-6-25-52-23)
5. Mitchell Marner, TOR 273 (0-3-14-42-56)
6. William Nylander, TOR 143 (0-0-7-24-36)
7. Matthew Tkachuk, CGY 72 (0-0-4-11-19)
8. Sebastian Aho, CAR 26 (0-0-0-4-14)
9. Ivan Provorov, PHI 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
10. Brayden Point, TBL 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Brady Skjei, NYR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Canada, Russia remain undefeated at Worlds

Getty

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Favorites Russia and Canada remained unbeaten at the ice hockey world championship after convincing wins over co-host Germany and Belarus on Monday.

Vadim Shipachyov and Nikita Kucherov scored twice each as record-title winner Russia defeated Germany 6-3 in Cologne, while Nathan MacKinnon notched two more goals and an assist as Canada shut out Belarus 6-0 in Paris, where goaltender Calvin Pickard was outstanding.

With three victories from three games in Group B so far, two-time champion Canada extended its worlds winning run to 10 games.

Germany captain Christian Ehrhoff was back from injury but Russia, which claimed 22 of its 27 world titles as the Soviet Union, got off to a great start through center Shipachyov after just a minute.

Then the Germans’ hopes took a hit when leading scorer Patrick Hager got a five-minute major and game misconduct for a slew foot on Sergei Mozyakin. Mozyakin didn’t return.

Shipachyov and Sergei Plotnikov scored to leave the hosts 3-0 down at the interval.

Germany’s Yasin Ehliz was penalized for roughing as tempers became frayed in the second period, and again the Russians took advantage for 5-0.

They lead Group A in Cologne, where the United States was facing Sweden late.

Brayden Point scored early for Canada, which had 11 shots compared to Belarus’ four in the first period. MacKinnon scored twice in the second, the first on a power play, taking the center’s tournament tally to five.

Belarus goaltender Mikhail Karnaukhov kept the score down with some outstanding stops but Canada added three more goals.

Finland was to face 2010 champion Czech Republic later in Group B.