Quick Strikes: Four Lightning players compete for gold at Worlds

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be well-represented in the Worlds medal rounds, the Crunch take on the Bruins tonight, and prospects shine in the Memorial Cup Tournament.

The Bolts

Three key RFAs the Tampa Bay Lightning must sign in the next few years: Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. “The key to Yzerman successfully maneuvering around the cap in two seasons will be locking up these players as soon as possible and to as cap-friendly a contract as humanly possible. Knowing Yzerman, however, I will not at all be surprised to see him work his magic again when the time comes.” [Raw Charge]

“Voting for the Blue Region in the Best of the Bolts' Round of 16 starts at noon on Friday, May 19 and ends at noon on Monday, May 22. Each matchup is listed below and you can vote as many times as you'd like for your favorite play in each matchup on TampaBayLightning.com.” [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Worlds

Nine members of the Tampa Bay Lightning participated across three teams in the IIHF World Championship Semifinals yesterday: Canada (Jon Cooper, Alex Killorn, and Brayden Point), Russia (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and prospect Nikita Gusev), and Sweden (Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman).

Canada defeats Russia 4-2

Russia went into the third period with a 2-0 lead before giving up four answered goals in the final frame. Gusev scored a goal, Kucherov picked up and assist, and the remaining three Lightning players (Namestnikov, Point, and Killorn) were held off the score sheet. Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 37 shots for a 0.919 save percentage (the final goal was an empty net goal by Canada). He was also named one of Russia’s top three players for the tournament.

Coach Jon Cooper said this match-up was among the best games he’s ever participated in. [CBC]

"I've been extremely fortunate as a coach to be able to coach in the National Hockey League and be able to coach in the Stanley Cup final. That was one of the greatest hockey games I've ever been a part of. I thought every single Russian player played as hard as they possibly could, just as every Canadian player [did]. When you're playing as hard as you can, that's all you can really ask from the guys.

Namestnikov spoke to the media after the game. Official translation by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, with a few edits for clarity provided by Natalia.

Namestnikov: I don't have any emotions right now. My leg? It's not important, I feel bad because we lost. The Canadian goal at the start of the third period gave them confidence. We should have had better concentration. Everyone fought hard, and we were so close. It's the most disappointing thing.

Photos from the game, courtesy of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and IIHF.

Sweden defeats Finland 4-1

Hedman and Stralman were held off the score sheet. They continue to be Sweden’s top defensive pairing and are showcasing the chemistry that Tampa fans are so familiar with. Hedman was named one of Sweden’s top three players of the tournament.

Look at this beautiful, clean, open ice hit by Stralman.

Photos of the match courtesy of the IIHF.

Medal Rounds Schedule

Kucherov, Namestnikov, and Vasilevskiy will face former Bolt Valtteri Filppula for the bronze medal at 10:15 AM EST.

Cooper, Killorn, and Point will face off with Hedman and Stralman in the battle for gold at 2:15 PM EST.

The Prospects

After defeating the Providence Bruins 6-3 in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Syracuse Crunch look to extend their series lead to 2-0 tonight. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Alex takes us through the emotional roller-coaster of the Crunch’s Game 7 win over the Toronto Marlies in the previous round. “So much has been written here and elsewhere about what Erik Condra has meant to us here in Syracuse this season that it doesn’t need to be reiterated. That night, the midst of all of my anxiety and invading previous memories, I looked to Condra, took a breath, and started cheering for my team again. As the comeback started, I cheered louder. And as the clock ticked down towards an eventual 6-3 Crunch win, I screamed so loud and so often that my voice is still scratchy two days later.” [Raw Charge]

Memorial Cup Tournament: Erie Otters defeat Seattle Thunderbirds 4-2

The Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize in junior hockey. Five Lightning prospects are playing in the tournament for two different teams. Erik Cernak, Anthony Cirelli, and Taylor Raddysh are members of the Erie Otters while Bokondji Imama and Mathieu Joseph play for the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Raddysh (#17 in white) netted two assists while Cirelli (#22) and Cernak (#14) each picked up a single assist. Cirelli spoke about his experience playing with line mate and fellow Lightning prospect Raddysh. “That’s huge to get to play together, in junior, and at the world juniors, I know what he’s like, he’s fast, strong, takes pucks to the net, so to get to play with him now, and even Cernak, I think it’s helpful so we’re used to each other.” [Raw Charge]


The Game

“Ryan Getzlaf, captain of the Anaheim Ducks, has been fined by the NHL for using a homophobic slur during Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators. The $10,000 fine is the maximum amount allowed by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association. Getzlaf was caught by television cameras yelling a homophobic slur at a referee in overtime, then moments later on the bench, though there was no audio of the incident.” [SB Nation]

Without Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen, the Nashville Predators were able to push past the Ducks 3-1 in Game Five and have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals back in Nashville.