Quick Strikes: Nikita Gusev wins the Gagarin Cup

Syracuse Crunch playoffs start Friday, Gusev wins in the KHL, and Stephens scores a clutch goal.

The Bolts

"Not every year is going to be the year. That doesn’t mean the Lightning’s 2016-17 campaign was without merit. A lot of great things happened and they deserve to be recognized." [Lightning Shout]

"It's probably the biggest question this offseason for the Lightning: Can Tampa Bay afford to sign restricted free agents Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin with its remaining salary cap space?" [Tampa Bay Times]

The Prospects

"The Syracuse Crunch have claimed first place in the North Division and will play the St. John's IceCaps in the first round of the 2017 Calder Cup playoffs. The best-of-five series will begin in St. John's on April 21. The teams will play games on Friday and Saturday, before returning to Syracuse to finish the series." [Syracuse Crunch]

Rookie Brett Howden just arrived in Syracuse a couple of weeks ago, but he’s making a noticeable impact for the Crunch.

Nikita Gusev was drafted by the Lightning in the 7th round of the 2012 NHL entry draft. He has played his entire career in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He currently plays for SKA St. Petersburg which just won the KHL's ultimate trophy - the Gagarin Cup. It remains to be seen if the dynamic Russian forward will ever join his good friend and namesake Nikita Kucherov on the Bolts roster.

Mitchell Stephens (#67 in green) earned first star honors by scoring a game-winning over time goal to defeat Erik Cernak (#14 in white), Anthony Cirelli (#22), Taylor Raddysh (#17) and the rest of the Erie Otters by a score of 2-1. Raddysh picked up an assist on the Otters lone goal. London forces a Game 7 as the series is tied 3-3.

Boris Katchouk was held off the score sheet for the first time in this year's OHL playoffs as his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds lost 1-0 to the Owen Sound Attack. The Greyhounds lost the series 4-2.

The Game

"When Phil Kessel’s shot rode up Zach Werenski’s stick and into his face, it was the turning moment of Game 3. While Werenski remained down on the ice, gushing blood from his nose, the play continued. Seconds later, the Penguins took advantage and took a 4-3 lead in the third period. They went on to win in overtime." [SB Nation]

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella made some predictably unpredictable comments about the situation. Never change, Torts.

Montreal Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov scored one of the prettiest goals of the playoffs so far as the Habs defeated the Rangers 3-1.