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Quick Strikes: Go Cats Go

Ingram shares his Bronco’s story, Alain Vigneault is fired, and Connor Hellebuyck is the winningest American goalie of all-time

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center J.T. Miller (10) celebrates as he scores a goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period at Amalie Arena. 
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost their final game of the season 3-2 but did so on the back of a two-goal comeback to force overtime and steal a point from the Canes. That point has major play implications should the final game of the season (Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers) go into extra time. [Raw Charge]

The Lightning’s line-up against the Hurricanes featured a few changes. Louis Domingue was the starter and Mikhail Sergachev and Cory Conacher were scratched for the Bolts. Slater Koekkoek (healthy scratch for five games) and Andrej Sustr (scratched for six games) were inserted in the line-up as Coach Cooper rolled an 11/7 roster.

Here is a recap of the Boston game on Saturday night and a snapshot of how the team who could play the Lightning are faring. [Tampa Bay Times]

The Bruins won, then got the break they needed to remain in contention for first in the Atlantic Division and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. David Pastrnak and Tommy Wingels scored 51 seconds apart in the second period and Boston beat Ottawa 5-2 on Saturday night, a win that preserved Bruins’ chances for the No. 1 seed with an overtime loss by the Lightning.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is a rookie starting goaltender. I think we take for granted how young, raw, and new he is at everything surrounding being a starting goalie in the NHL. HE’s been outstanding. [Tampa Bay Times]

“You just watched the growth of a young player, and his trajectory continues to go up,” coach Jon Cooper said. “That’s what you want to see in guys. If there were questions about whether he could handle the load of the No. 1 guy, I think he’s answered them all.”

“Brad Lauer grew up in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, a small, hockey-loving town of about 5,000. He played junior hockey for the Humboldt Broncos, riding buses as they crisscrossed the province to road games.” [Tampa Bay Times]

“It’s devastating for the community,” Lauer, 51, said Saturday afternoon before the season-ending game against the Hurricanes. “Any time you lose some kids like that, it’s devastating. It kind of hits home because I think everyone has been on these buses. Whether your kids played basketball or hockey, you sent your kids away on buses, you expect them to be safe, and something like this happens.”

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch beat the Utica Comets last night in what could be a potential first-round matchup. [Auburn Pub]

Erik Condra scored the lone goal and Eddie Pasquale made 26 saves for the shutout, as the Crunch topped the Comets, 1-0, in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The coach after the game.

The Humboldt tragedy hit home for Connor Ingram, literally. Connor’s a Saskatchewanian and played for Humboldt in his junior days. [Syracuse]

Syracuse is No. 2 in the North Division, while Utica is battling for the No. 3 spot with RocHockey is a global game played by what can seem like a very small village of friendly and supportive souls, so the magnitude of the loss struck wide and deep.

Crunch rookie goalie Connor Ingram is from Imperial, Sask. That’s 95 miles from Humboldt, home to the young players who were traveling on the bus.hester.

The Game

The New York Rangers have fired Alain Vigneault as head coach of the team. Safe to say my twitter feed was very not unhappy with the move. [Sportsnet]

The Rangers made the playoffs in four of Vigneault’s five seasons as coach, including a 2014 trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They went 226-147-37 in the regular season under Vigneault, who is third in regular-season and playoff wins in franchise history.

Connor Hellebuyck now has the most wins for an American goaltender in one season...ever.

The 24-year-old Commerce, Mich., goalie made 30 saves to pick up his 44th win (44-11-9), surpassing Tom Barrasso’s 1992-93 feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hellebuyck also tied the NHL record for most wins at home by a goaltender in a single season with 30. Wayne Stephenson of the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers had the same tally.

Here’s the playoff first round as we know it. The only thing left in the air is us and who we play (thanks, Boston and you’re stupid snow).

East

Tampa/Boston - New Jersey

Boston/Tampa - Toronto

Washington - Columbus

Pittsburgh - Philadelphia (!)

West

Nashville - Colorado

Winnipeg - Minnesota

Vegas - Los Angeles

Anaheim - San Jose

This is going to be fun.

Highlight of the Night: 47-point improvement in one season.