TAMPA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – St. Louis center Brayden Schenn scored the game winner at 4:01 of overtime as he fired a shot off the goal post which hit the back of Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s left blocker and found its way into the net as the Blues shaded the Lightning 1-0 at Amalie Arena.
“Seen the back checker coming and the goalie cut off the angle,” said Schenn, who scored his 10th goal of the season. “Didn’t really see a whole lot. Didn’t know if it was low glove or went through his body. Saw the puck trickle in and it was a big sigh of relief.”
The Blues came out strong in the first period in trying to send Tampa Bay a message as they peppered Vasilevskiy with 15 shots in the first period. The Lightning didn’t match the Blues’ energy early, but Vasilevskiy showed his usual range in the crease as he was able to deflect a shot and then reposition himself to the other side and make a play as well.
“We got better as the game went on and maybe a couple of old habits jumping in as maybe trying to score the perfect goal and we gave up fourteen attempts in the first period and it is really hard to win in this league when you do that,” noted Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
Vasilevskiy once again performed well enough to get the win, but had no goal support out of a Lightning offense that has struggled lately in averaging only two goals per game over the last four games, entering Thursday.
“I think we played much better in the third period as we directed the puck at the net,” explained Tampa Bay center Yanni Gourde, who was turned away at the net by Binnington early in the overtime period. “Their ‘D’ did a good job of boxing us out. It comes down to small details and we weren’t able to do anything with that.”
The Lightning penalty kill was on point once again as the unit shifted the momentum in the second period in erasing three penalties as it has killed 34 of 37 penalties in the last 12 contests.
“I think that was a big momentum changer,” commented Gourde. “Our PK stepped up. We got some scoring chances and a few looks. Good when the PK is rolling and you shut their offense down. It’s always a confidence booster when you step on the ice after that.”
The goalkeepers were at peak level all evening as Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy once again came up huge in covering for his team, which has had trouble finding the goal ever since a 6-3 rout of the San Jose Sharks in Tampa nearly two weeks ago.
“We are defending and the guys are playing hard,” explained Cooper, “They had a huge shot total, but not a huge scoring chance total. You are not going to score at the rate we have been scoring all year and sometimes you have to go through these trying times to see what will work.”
The success of Vasilevskiy should not get lost in the solidity of a Lightning offense that has been staggered of late. He was peppered in the crease as St. Louis threw 39 shots his way. Many times there were scoring opportunities in open ice or situations where he had to use his lateral skills to deflect two shots from both sides of his crease.
St. Louis has been resurgent since the beginning of the year and much of that success has been due to the insertion of young Jordan Binnington into the net. Binnington made his first career NHL start on January 7 and turned away 25 pucks as the Blues snuffed the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 as Binnington earned his first career shutout in his first career start.
Coming into Thursday’s win, Binnington has gone 7-1-1 with a 92.4 save percentage in allowing only 1.72 goals while picking up four of those seven wins in the last five games. The Blues have thus risen into playoff contention a 10-4-1 start to the new year.
“They made a pretty good push in the third and he came up big,” said Blues coach Craig Berube of Binnington. “He is a confident guy. Watching his mannerisms in there, he was pretty calm and cool.”
The Lightning lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season as they fell to Ottawa and Buffalo on Nov. 10 and Nov. 13.
Ken Cross is a sports contributor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lightning Sign D Mikhail Sergachev, F Anthony Cirelli and D Erik Cernak to Eight-Year Contract Extensions
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Erik Cernak each to an eight-year contract extension, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Sergachev, 24, has skated in 362 career regular season games, 358 of them with the Lightning, notching 36 goals and 174 points. He ranks fifth all-time in Tampa Bay franchise history among defensemen for goals and scoring and fourth for assists (138). The former ninth overall pick (of Montreal) in the 2016 NHL Draft has also played in 92 postseason games and posted eight goals and 30 points. He ranks second in Lightning history among defensemen for playoff games, goals, assists (22) and scoring. Sergachev’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $8.5 million.
Cirelli, 24, has skated in 294 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, recording 66 goals and 159 points. During the 2021-22 season, Cirelli posted 17-26—43 points in 76 games played, one point shy of his career high 16-28—44 pts. from the 2019-20 season. He led Tampa Bay forwards for blocked shots (67), ranked sixth in the NHL for penalties drawn (42) and finished fifth in Selke Trophy voting in 2021-22. In postseason play, Cirelli has notched 14 goals and 34 points in 92 games, ranking 11th all-time in Lightning playoff history for scoring. Cirelli’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $6.25 million.
Cernak, 25, has skated in 226 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, posting 16 goals, 59 points and a plus-51 rating. During the 2021-22 regular season, the Kosice, Slovakia native notched a goal and 13 points and led the Lightning for hits (165) in 55 games. Cernak has played in 73 career postseason games, recording two goals and 19 points. He netted the Stanley Cup-opening goal in Game 1 of the 2021 Cup Final versus Montreal, becoming the first Tampa Bay player to net his first career playoff goal in a Stanley Cup Final. A second round selection of the Los Angeles Kings (43rd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Cernak was traded to the Lightning on February 26, 2017. Cernak’s eight-year contract is worth an AAV of $5.2 million.
NHL: Lightning Re-Sign Forward Simon Ryfors to a One-Year, Two-Way Contract
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Simon Ryfors to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.
Ryfors, 24, played in 72 games during the regular season for the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay’s American Hockey League affiliate, posting 11 goals and 35 points, ranking tied for seventh on the Crunch for scoring. He also skated in five Calder Cup Playoff games with the Crunch and notched a goal, assist and a plus-four rating.
The Stockholm, Sweden native originally signed with the Lightning organization on May 12, 2021. Prior to that, he skated seven seasons with Rogle BK of the SHL, tallying 41 goals and 93 points to go along with 165 penalty minutes in 250 games. He set career bests in the SHL in 2020-21 for goals (25), assists (20) and points (45).
Lightning Acquire F Brandon Hagel, Two 4th Round Picks from Chicago
TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Tampa Bay Lightning // The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Brandon Hagel, Chicago’s fourth-round selection in 2022 and fourth-round pick in 2024 from the Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk, Tampa’s first-round selection in 2023 and first-round selection in 2024, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. Both first-round picks the Lightning are sending to Chicago are top 10 protected.
Hagel, 23, has played in 55 games so far this season for Chicago, recording 21 goals and 37 points. Hagel ranks second on the Blackhawks for goals and game-winning goals (3) and fourth for scoring and power-play goals (4). In 108 games with Chicago over three seasons, Hagel has posted 30 goals and 61 points. He made his NHL debut March 11, 2020 versus San Jose, the only game he played during the 2019-20 season. Hagel is under contract through the 2023-2024 season with a salary cap number of $1,500,000.
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