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Lightning Round: Bolts prospect Niko Huuhtanen named player of the game for Finland at Men’s WJC

and Sam Gagner reaches 1000th NHL game

Latvia v Finland: Group B - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
MONCTON, NB - DECEMBER 29: Niko Huuhtanen #29 for team Finland takes a shot on Patricks Berlins #30 for team Slovakia during the second period during the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship game at Avenir Centre on December 29, 2022 in Moncton, Canada.
Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Niko Huuhtanen scored in Finland’s 3-0 win over Latvia at the Men’s World Juniors. Huuhtanen was also named player of the game for the Finns as they get set to play Dylan Duke and the Americans this weekend. If this video is geoblocked, here is a good recap from the IIHF that carries the game highlights. [IIHF]

In the second period, Finland weathered some penalty woes before going up 2-0 at 9:34. Huuhtanen worked a neat give-and-go in traffic in the Latvian zone with Nyman and knifed a backhander past Berzins’ blocker from the slot.

“It started in the D-zone with a good pass from Salin,” Huuhtanen said. “Then it was a little bit of ping-pong puck and I shot it in the net.”

It was a tough, close game all the way through, but the Tampa Bay Lightning eventually overcame the New York Rangers in the shootout. [Raw Charge]

“Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 45 shots, including four of five in the shootout as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in the shootout. Brayden Point scored the only goal in regulation by the Bolts, but also scored in the shootout alongside Alex Killorn to help give the Lightning the win.”

Big congratulations to Sam Gagner for playing in his 1000th career NHL game. Gagner has played for several teams in his career, including Edmonton, Arizona, Philadelphia, Columbus, Vancouver, Detroit, and Winnipeg. Gagner is the fifth player from his draft class (2007) to hit the milestone, joining Wayne Simmonds and David Perron who also did it this year. Jamie Benn should get there as well in 2022-23. [Winnipeg Free Press]

“Regardless of who you are, you’re going to go through adversity through your career. You find out what you’re made of and you keep trying to push through,” said Gagner. “That’s where the support comes in. My wife, my parents, helping through those times. It makes these moments that much more special. Certainly, excited for (Thursday) night.”

“I work hard at trying to reinvent myself, but also just putting in the work every day. You learn that from teammates. I learned a lot of that from my old man, his work ethic, what he went through in his career. I owe a lot to that. My mom, my wife, what my wife gets put through, she’s kind of my psychologist. The amount of sacrifice she’s had (to make), to move around with a young family, give up parts of her career. It’s not possible without her.”

It was a pretty bad giveaway from Kuznetsov, to be honest.