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Quick Strikes: Syracuse Crunch win the North Division

Nikita Kucherov has been suspended for one game

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The Bolts

Forward Nikita Kucherov will miss game three against the Columbus Blus Jackets tonight after his unnecessary hit on Markus Multivara. The Lightning are down 0-2 in the series.

The Lightning held an unexpected practice on Saturday morning. Apart from the suspended Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman also didn’t participated in practice.

GeoFitz shares his thoughts about Game 2 and expects some changes for the next game [Raw Charge]

Hopefully we’ll see some changes to the line up. I expect Ryan Callahan will get the nod with Kucherov sitting in the press box. Hopefully Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn can get back into the lineup. Those two deserve to be playing. They’ve played so many games in the playoffs. They’ve been good players this year. Jan Rutta should come out. I’d like to see Dan Girardi take a game off, but I could also see Sergachev getting the press box as well. I think Cooper has to make some changes on the blue line and I will be very disappointed if he doesn’t.

The Athletic’s Joe Smith discusses the importance of the next game. [The Athletic, paid content]

Sunday’s Game 3 at Nationwide Arena may be one of the biggest games in franchise history. How Tampa Bay responds to this situation could be a defining moment for the legacy of the Lightning’s veteran core, including Hedman, captain Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov, of course, won’t be playing Sunday as he was suspended for dangerously boarding Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara, who was on his knees. It was an unnecessary penalty that might cost his team dearly, and you can bet Kucherov doesn’t want the lasting image of his remarkable season to be slamming the glass on his way to the dressing room.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch have won the North Division title after a win over the Rochester Americans [Raw Charge]

On a night when there was something on the line for the Syracuse Crunch, their top players came through for them. Eddie Pasquale stopped 23 of 26 shots, including a couple of breakways, and Carter Verhaeghe scored late in the third period to break a 2-2 tie as the Crunch held on to defeat the Rochester Americans 4-3. With the win, the Syracuse clinches the North Division title for the second time in three seasons and guarantees themselves home ice through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Their playoffs opponent will be either the Cleveland Monsters or the Belleville Senators who are tied with 75 points.

Before the game, several players received team awards for the 2018-19 season.

Lightning prospect Cole Koepke has won the NCAA Division 1 championship with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Seldo asked him some important questions [Raw Charge]

“Who hands out broccoli pizza? What is this?”
The first words I hear when entering the dressing room of the NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey champions. The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs pulled off back to back titles, but can’t get a proper pizza delivered. I ask Tampa Bay Lightning prospect his preference, pepperoni or broccoli. He doesn’t hesitate before selecting the traditional pie.
You’ve now made it official, a championship in all of your rookie years.
Yeah. Yeah. I’m in shock.
Is this going to get you straight A’s the rest of the year?
[laughs] Man, I hope so.
The crowd wasn’t on your side this time, though, eh?
It was fun, I mean, any big crowd is great if they’re into it. Even if they’re not on your side, the atmosphere is still great. This is all just so awesome.
Is this rookie success going to carry over to the next level?
Oh yeah, I hope so.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning and Syracuse Crunch goalie Peter Budaj has retired at the age of 36. The Ontario Reign made a memorable ceremony for him

The Playoffs

In Saturday’s first game, the Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes thanks to an overtime goal by Brooks Orpik, who has become the oldest defenseman to score an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Alex Ovechkin didn’t scored, but picked up two primary assists on Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson goals.

The Capitals now lead the series 2-0 as the teams head back to Raleigh.

The Nashville Predators have tied their series against the Dallas Stars. The Predators outshot the Stars 42-23, but thanks to Ben Bishop, the game went all the way to overtime. Craig Smith scored the game winning goal for the Preds.

The Boston Bruins also managed to tie their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the best night for the Leafs, they failed against the Bergeron line and kept making silly mistakes.

Nazem Kadri will probably miss several games due to cross-checking Jake DeBrusk in the face away from the play. Kadri will face an in-person hearing before the Game 3.

The last game of the day was also decided in the overtime. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2. Nathan MacKinnon scored a game winning goal

The Game

The two semifinal games were played on Saturday at the Woman’s World Championship. Team Finland surprisingly defeated team Canada 4-2 meaning the Canadians didn’t advance to the final for the first time in the history of tournament.

Team USA demolished team Russia 8-0 and will face Finland at 1 pm ET on Sunday in the gold medal game.