Quick Strikes: Point Break

Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde leading the youthful charge for the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers clashed — you know, the way lightning hits cats — in a 5-4 high-octane affair that concluded with a clutch Brayden Point winner in overtime. [Raw Charge]

All of Tampa Bay’s goals were the result of an aggressive forecheck and at the center of it all was Yani Gourde. We all know his story so I’m not going to reiterate it, but Gourde’s explosion this season has been one of the undersold stories for the Lightning this year. With a three-point night, Gourde now has 53 points (24G 29A) and should be a dark horse for the Calder trophy.

Youth is the focus of Bryan Burns’ 3 things after last night’s game against Florida. [NHL dot com]

With only Evgenii Dadonov between him and Luongo, Point dangled Dadonov, toe dragging the puck around the Panthers forward to completely elude him. Now with a clear path to shoot, Point lifted a wrist shot over the glove of Luongo and into the back of the net to set off a raucous celebration near the Lightning bench.

Jeff Vinik and the Lightning are getting their money’s worth out of this franchise. [The Hockey Writers]

In order to be successful, a team’s front office must identify a core and be willing to pay those players, part with those not in the core, and recognize young players with upside. These teams (like Pittsburgh) also need veterans willing to play on cheaper contracts, like Matt Cullen for the Penguins last season. His contract had a $1 million cap hit and he contributed nine points in the playoffs while playing a key fourth line role.

A victim of sexual assult, Melissa Mihok gets recognized by the Lightning Community Hero program for her tirelessdedication to making it go away and is honored as the 32nd hero this season. [NHL dot com]

Melissa shares her story with thousands of individuals at over two dozen community events each year. She has also partnered with the St. Petersburg Police Department in Pinellas County, which enables local law enforcement and domestic violence shelters to connect victims with licensed mental health counselors from Heels to Heal, who have experience in dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault cases. To date, this partnership has facilitated counseling for approximately 200 survivors.

The Prospects

Crunch Corner: Watch out, Toronto Marlies, the Syracuse Crunch are hot on your tail. [Raw Charge]

Now the challenge to keep the momentum going after a February that saw the team finish the month with a five-game winning streak and go 8-3-1 overall. An overtime loss to Laval on Saturday snapped their victory streak, but ran their points streak to eight games. A few of those wins might have been undeserved, propped up by unsustainable goaltending from Connor Ingram and Eddie Pasquale. The good news is that it seems the power play seems to have found it’s stride again after a 2-for-51 stretch.

The new-look prospect report is shorter, but not by much. [Raw Charge]

Lipanov was suspended until March 4th for “violating the league’s harassment and diversity policy”, he was caught using a homophobic slur during a game after the last prospect report came out. The Wolves have eight games left in the season.

After being reported yesterday, Peter Budaj is officially on a conditioning stint with the Syracuse Crunch. [Syracuse Crunch]

Budaj, 35, has appeared in seven games with the Lightning this season, posting a record of 3-3-1 to go along with a 3.80 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. Budaj has won three of his past five starts with the Bolts. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound goaltender suffered a lower body injury on December 29 against the Philadelphia Flyers and has missed the past 29 games.

The Game

Taylor Hall extended his point streak to 26 games as the New Jersey Devils beat up on the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 (the game was 6-2 with a few minutes to go). [All about the Jersey]

In total, while Hall received two primary assists, the Devils production was not so reliant on the team’s Superstar left winger. Others stepped up to make plays and finish them too. That’s a huge positive after three games of Hall effectively putting the offense on his back. Of course, Hall’s two assists mean that his point-streak is now 26 games long. Keep it moving, Hall.

In a subtle shot at the Edmonton Oilers, the Hart Trophy candidate tells the press that he’s in a “fun place” now playing the game he loves. [National Post]

[Meaningful hockey] is new for him. During his time in Edmonton, meaningful games generally ended when the calendar turned over. A year ago at this time, the New Jersey Devils were on their way to finishing with the worst record in the Eastern Conference while the team he left behind in a trade was en route to its first playoff spot in more than a decade.

A step forward in protecting athletes from concussions and other serious injuries. [CBC Sports]

In the OHL, Detroit Red Wings prospect Givani Smith abuses a referee while trying to fight a Sarnia Sting player. He’s going to get in serious trouble for that. [Winging it in Motown]

Smith, a 2nd-round pick in 2016, is thought of as an power-forward with a physical edge, who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves when needed. Smith clearly ripped an official who was trying to restrain him from a fight in a junior-level game — which is a reprehensible move whether you’re a youngster, or a veteran.

Highlight of the Night: Let’s have a look at that Point goal again.