Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning tops Penguins in OT (w/video)

TAMPA — Though Jonathan Drouin remains in limbo in AHL Syracuse awaiting a trade, another Lightning first-round draft pick is flourishing.

Forward Vladislav Namestnikov, playing the kind of minutes and top-line role Drouin has sought, continued his breakout season with a bang Friday, his first pro hat trick lifting the Lightning to a 5-4 overtime win over the Penguins at Amalie Arena.

"You obviously dream about it," Namestnikov said. "It's a special feeling."

Namestnikov's third tally was the winner. He pounced on a loose puck just over two minutes into overtime. It sealed a season-high fourth straight win for Tampa Bay (23-17-4), which had blown a two-goal lead before tying it with five minutes left in regulation.

"Blown leads, comebacks, extra time, send the fans home happy and throw on a hat trick to boot," coach Jon Cooper said. "So it's pretty good."

The Lightning should feel fortunate to walk away with two points. The Penguins outshot it 35-18 after the first five minutes of the game. Tampa Bay's resurgent power play came through with two goals in the second period, including a 5-on-3 goal by Valtteri Filppula. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy once again gave Tampa Bay a chance with 36 saves.

But it was Namestnikov's night. It hasn't been easy for Namestnikov, the 27th overall pick in 2011. He split last season between the Lightning and Syracuse, and like Drouin, he was often a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Even this season, Namestnikov has played less than 10 minutes five times and has spent time on the fourth line.

"He's had to fight for everything," Cooper said. "He stuck with it. He's made a choice to be an NHL hockey player, and you really pull for guys like that."

Namestnikov, 23, has been the team's most improved player this season, stepping up when thrust into a top-six role due to injuries. And he has earned his way back as the team has gotten healthy, forming the Lightning's hottest line with captain Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.

"He's been one of our best forwards all year," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "It's been fun to watch."

You can see Namestnikov's confidence soaring from a mile away. On his first goal, Namestnikov used his best asset, speed, to race down the right side before ripping a shot gloveside past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

"You don't see him do that a whole lot," Cooper said.

Namestnikov's second goal, which made the score 3-1 in the second period, came on a power play. He snuck behind two defensemen to tip in a Victor Hedman point shot.

The Penguins then made a big push, beating the Lightning to pucks and controlling the faceoff circle, and taking the lead at 4-3 with six minutes left. But two shifts later, Stralman forced overtime with a spectacular spin-o-rama backhand. "He's been saving that one," Cooper joked.

Namestnikov finished it off, zipping around the Penguins zone, then crashing the net to put in a rebound off a Nikita Kucherov shot.

Said Cooper: "He's being a big-time contributor, playing with some big-time players, and he's fitting in just fine."

Lightning 1 2 1 1 5
Penguins 1 1 2 0 4
Lightning 1 2 1 1 5
Penguins 1 1 2 0 4

 

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 7 (Stamkos, Nesterov), 1:51. 2, Pittsburgh, Letang 6 (Crosby, Hornqvist), 10:37. PenaltiesKucherov, TB (hooking), 4:46; Paquette, TB (hooking), 15:47; Rust, Pit (holding), 18:09.

Second Period3, Tampa Bay, Filppula 6 (Johnson, Stamkos), 8:12 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 8 (Hedman, Filppula), 10:47 (pp). 5, Pittsburgh, Hornqvist 10 (Malkin, Letang), 14:23 (pp). PenaltiesSustr, TB (holding), 4:43; Cullen, Pit (hooking), 7:45; Fehr, Pit (hooking), 7:49; Cullen, Pit (cross-checking), 8:54; Nesterov, TB (hooking), 13:06.

Third Period6, Pittsburgh, Daley 2 (Malkin, Kessel), 10:13. 7, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 7 (Maatta, Hornqvist), 13:48. 8, Tampa Bay, Stralman 5 (Filppula, Paquette), 15:21. PenaltiesKunitz, Pit (boarding), 2:48.

Overtime9, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 9 (Kucherov), 2:11. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalPittsburgh 8-11-18-3—40. Tampa Bay 7-6-10-2—25. Power-play opportunitiesPittsburgh 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 2 of 5. GoaliesPittsburgh, Fleury 15-11-5 (25 shots-20 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 6-4-0 (40-36). A19,092 (19,092). T2:42. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Dean Morton. LinesmenJohn Grandt, Derek Amell.

Comments
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Published: 04/21/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

TAMPA — In the postseason, teams want to bank days off so they are as fresh as can be for the next round. That's why it was so important for the Lightning to close out Jersey in five. The fewer the games, the less wear and tear on the body, les...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Published: 04/21/18