Another solid all-around effort, supplemented by some fortunate bounces, yields another win and,whaddyaknow, the Tampa Bay Lightning have erased a dubious start to the home stand with a fine finish.
"Great home.stand, especially after you drop the first one. So now there are ten (points) on the table, we got eight of them. It doesn't matter how you get there, you just need the points." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
"Points in five out of the six games at home, we talked about that the other day. Obviously it's not the way we wanted to start but we finished strong. That's what you want to do heading into a little road trip. We gained some confidence." - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos
The Lightning started building their lead late in the first period on a power play goal by Stamkos at 17:56. He was assisted by Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan on the play.
The 1-0 lead would carry into the second period.
At 6:54 of the second while on a 4-on-4 (thanks to a hooking call on Valtteri Filppula that may have been the most absurd call against the Lightning this season) Palat tried to send a pass across the front of the goal crease and the puck hit a sliding Ryan Stanton who was attempting a block the play. The puck slid right along with him past Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack. Matt Carle was credited with the lone assist.
As the period was expiring, Filppula scored on another deflection off of Stanton at 19:51. Stamkos got the assist.
The Lightning had a formidable lead going into the third. Holding multi-goal lead has been something of a problem as of late for the Bolts, but tonight, it was less a case of them "blowing" it (they never trailed or were even tied) than it was a determined Canucks squad fighting back.
They got their first puck past Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop at 5:44 on a power play goal by Alexandre Burrows, assisted by Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler.
Just over three minutes later at 8:47, Tom Pyatt pushed the margin back to three, scoring the eventual game-winner with help from J.T. Brown and Victor Hedman.
Three minutes after that, Vancouver cut into the lead again on another goal from Burrows. This time, he was assisted by Nicklas Jensen and Henrik Sedin.
Less than a minute later, things became uncomfortably interesting when Jannik Hansen scored shorthanded at 15:16 with an assist by Burrows.
That's as close as they got, as the Lightning managed to fend them off over the remaining four-plus minutes.
"We still have to fix some things. We take the lead into the third, we know, especially teams that are fighting for their playoff lives, that they're going to throw everything at us. We have to be a little smarter but I thought the way they scored, we can correct those." - Stamkos
"Fixable things for us, for sure." - Cooper
The Lightning will now head out on a three-game road trip with stops in Toronto, Ottawa and Pittsburgh, before returning home next Monday to host Ottawa.
- The Lightning celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Stanley Cup victory. On hand were members of that team general manager Jay Feaster, along with players Stan Neckar, Brad Lukowich, Tim Taylor, Frederik Modin, Dmitry Afanasenkov, Ben Clymer, Pavel Kubina, Cory Stillman, Jassen Cullimore, Chris Dingman, Nolan Pratt, Andre Roy and Dave Andreychuk as well as the Stanley Cup itself. Also present, albeit with a different agenda than warm and fuzzy memories was former Lightning and current Canucks head coach John Tortorella, although he did participate in the brief pre-game recognition ceremony..
- Ondrej Palat stretched his personal points-scored streak to five games.
- Valtteri Filppula's goal was his 300th NHL point.
- Tyler Johnson is two goals from tying the Lightning rookie record set by Steven Stamkos during the 2008-09 season.
- This upcoming road trip is the longest of the Lightning's three remaining. After this, they'll have a two game trip, played on back-to-back nights in Buffalo and Detroit, at the end of March and their regular season will end with a trip to Washington on April 13. Eight of their remaining 14 games will be played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
- The Lightning honored Dick Vitale as the 33rd Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Vitale, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the V Foundation. Vitale has spent his adult life attempting to make the Tampa Bay area better for the children in need. He has raised millions of dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota. Vitale is on the board for the V Foundation for Cancer Research and has raised millions of dollars in support of pediatric cancer research. In addition, Vitale has given five $1,000 scholarships a year to children of the Boys and Girls Club. The Tampa resident and ESPN college basketball sportscaster has been widely recognized for his contributions to the community. He was one of 13 Magnetic Men honored by PARC, a non-profit that helps people with developmental disabilities achieve independence. In 2002, the Florida Association of Community Corrections presented Vitale with their President's Humanitarian Award for his work with youth. 2010 saw Vitale presented with the Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay's Man of the Year Award and the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Industry Icon Award.