Quick Strikes: Will Nikita Kucherov get suspended?

His hit on Sami Vatanen was awfully high.

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning take one back on the road from the New Jersey Devils to go up 3-1 in their first round series with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday. [Raw Charge]

Tampa Bay couldn’t ask for a better start to the game than a power-play within the first minute. The bad thing about this failed opportunity was that they only managed one dangerous chance before the Devils’ penalty kill forced the Lightning to reset out of the offensive zone often. Regardless, Tampa Bay applied pressure on New Jersey in the offensive zone and created turnovers. However, whenever they did get a shot on net, Cory Schneider was there to shut the door down.

All About the Jersey wrote a very good recap of the game as well, if you wanted to read it from the enemies perspective. [All About the Jersey]

The energy at the Rock ahead of tonight’s Game 4 was palpable. There was a real feeling that the New Jersey Devils could take this game and make their first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning a best-of-three. This could have been a night to remember. The Rock was quite loud and very amped at the start. Patrick Warburton, a.k.a. Puddy, was there with his face painted and he took off his jersey to show the painted ‘D’ on his chest. “We’re the Devils, we can beat anybody,” he bellowed.

However, by the end, it was quiet and it was sullen.

In the game, Nikita Kucherov hit Sami Vatanen high in open ice. Hits like these have been called illegal before and been given suspensions becuase of it. The NHL has already given three suspensions to hits to the head in the playoffs (Kadri, Doughty, Morrissey). Hopefully Kuch is deemed to be in the right.

The penalty kill finally came through for the Lightning, giving up only one goal on a 5v3. [NHL dot com]

“That’s been the big emphasis coming into the playoffs and the last four games,” Miller said of the penalty kill. “We’ve really been working on that. We wanted to figure out something we could stick too. The guys on the PK right now are doing an awesome job. Obviously, you don’t want to be taking six, seven penalties a game, but the last two games, the only ones we’ve been giving up are on the 5-on-3. I think it’s such a positive. If the PK doesn’t come up big, who knows how the game is going? They’re a huge part of it.”

This fan calls out Steven Stamkos for his production (or lack there of) in the playoffs. Do you think their case changed your mind? [Raw Charge]

The man who once scored 60 goals in a season and consistently flirted with 40 or more in other years has been a relative playoff non-entity throughout his Lightning career, with only 15 goals in 51 career playoff games, or 0.29 per game. This is half of the 0.52 goals per game he’s scored over his career in the regular season. You’re probably thinking, well sure it’s harder to score in the playoffs than the regular season, and in general that’s true, but not for other Lightning stars.

The Prospects

The last time the Syracuse Crunch played the Rochester Americans, there had only been one lockout in the Bettman era. 14 years later, these two teams meet again in the post-season. [Syracuse]

Rochester won a dramatic Game 7 in overtime to take the 2004 North Division semis. Norm Milley won it by beating Crunch goalie Karl Goehring -- now Syracuse’s goalie coach -- with 2 minutes, 7 seconds left in the extra period. That tally came after Syracuse’s Kent McDonell missed a great opportunity at the other end on Amerks goalie Ryan Miller that would have won the series for the Crunch.

One more sleep until the playoffs! How’s the team feeling?

Here’s a reminder of the Crunch’s home schedule. The gamesin Rochester will be next Wednesday (25th) and Friday (27th) at 7:00pm.

The Game

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a suspension to announce. Josh Morrissey has been suspended one game for his cross-check to the head of Eric Staal. [Sportsnet]

Morrissey caught Staal up high with his stick late in the first period of Winnipeg’s Game 4 victory over the Wild on Tuesday night. Staal went down to the ice immediately in pain. Staal was slow to get to his skates and gingerly made his way to the bench as the play continued.

The Selke nominees for most defensive forward (who can score a lot and has a season most like Patrice Bergeron). And the nominees are..... Patrice Bergeron! Sean Couturier! and Anze Kopitar! Something something Steve Harvey something. [NHL dot com]

Kopitar, 30, led NHL forwards in total ice time (1,810:58), an average of 22:05 per game, on a Kings team that led the League at 2.46 goals against per game. He led Kings forwards in shorthanded ice time (2:10 per game), and was third in the League in total face-offs (1,816) and face-off wins (983), setting NHL career highs in each category. Kopitar is a Selke finalist for the fourth time in five seasons. He won the award in 2016, placed second in 2014 and was third in 2015.

We also have a sweep to announce: the San Jose Sharks have defeated the Anaheim Ducks in four games with a 2-1 win. Sorry, J.T., Lexi. [Fear the Fin]

The Sharks visibly dominated with shot attempts through the first 20 minutes of play. The little Chewbacca face six minutes in is the Sorensen goal (marked as such because of a Brent Burns assist). Score-adjusted corsi remains relatively equal over the last forty minutes of the game, with the Ducks putting a few shots on net towards the end of the second and third periods.

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a — you guessed it — blow out win. 5-0 this time. [Pensburgh]

Crosby passes Mario Lemieux as #1 all-time in Pittsburgh playoff scoring. Lemieux played a lot less games though, as I’m sure Sid will be the first to point out, but #66 is now in the rear-view mirror for possibly the 2nd major category. (The first being the 3-2 count of Stanley Cups won as a player)

The Nashville PRedators win yet another close game over the Colorado Avalanche. With the 3-2 win in game 4, the Avs are on the brink of elimination heading to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. [Mile High Hockey]

The goal gave the Avalanche new life. The team was flying - led by their superstar - and began to put a lot of pressure on the Predators. The pace of the game picked up and the new-found energy paid off as Alex Kerfoot shrunk the lead to one. He put a loose puck past Pekka Rinneto make the score 3-2 with nine minutes to play.

Highlight of the Night: Filipovic Forsberg does it again!