The Vancouver Canucks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 Friday night in Vancouver.
As if whatever internal, mental struggles the Lightning have been battling hasn’t provided enough of a challenge, they find themselves on a far-flung road trip to western Canada without the services of Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. Still, after a win on Wednesday over a very good Calgary team and coming into town on a four game win streak at Rogers Arena, they had to feel like they had at least a puncher’s chance against the sub-.500 Canucks.
“It’s too bad because it was a pretty solid effort by a depleted group. You feel for the guys. It’s a self-inflicted loss is what it is. Bad turnovers end up in our net and a marginal call at best, a penalty 200 feet from our net and they just get an unreal break. It’s tough to fault the guys on their effort. The Canucks got the breaks and we didn’t.” - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
The Lightning started out well. After escaping an early shorthanded situation when a Canucks power play was waved off after a coach’s challenge for offsides, Victor Hedman scored at 6:31 of the first on a snap shot. He as assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle. They would hold that 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Lightning got away from their game in the second and it would cost them.
“I thought the first period was a good period. We played well. We played within our structure. And then the second period I thought we stopped doing the right things. We took the easy way out a little bit, and they hurt us...at the end, we need to play better over 60 minutes.” - Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman
Vancouver tied the game at 1:37 of the second when Brandon Sutter scored on assists from Markus Granlund and Loui Eriksson.
They would take the lead at 13:25 on Luca Sbisa’s first goal of the season. Alexandre Burrows and Sven Baertschi chipped in with assists.
The Lightning entered the third period trailing 2-1.
They would tie the game at the 3:53 mark on Cory Conacher’s first NHL goal since October 11, 2014, when he was a member of the New York Islanders. Jonathan Drouin and Hedman offered assistance on the play.
“It’s nice to get that first one. It would have been nicer if we got the win out of it, but hopefully I can build off that and it’s a quick turnaround for tomorrow’s game. Hopefully I can build off that and play well tomorrow and hopefully we can win tomorrow.” - Conacher
Circumstances that could be labeled “quirky at best” led to the Canucks re-taking the lead for the final time.
Alex Killorn was whistled for Holding at 6:08, the call Cooper referenced in the above quote.
On the ensuing power play, Bo Horvat capitalized on a fortunate bounce off a really long rebound after an initial save by Andrei Vasilevskiy to score the eventual game winner at 7:46. Erikkson and Granlund were credited with assists on the play.
“It’s tough. Actually, it was a nice save Vasy made just to keep it from going in the net. It goes right to their guy. It looked like it was a rolling puck. He puts it – it was an unreal shot by him – but he was Johnny on the spot on a fluky play. That was the difference. Too bad.” - Cooper
Burrows, assisted by Horvat would go on to score an empty netter at 19:13 to finish things off.
“We can’t sit here and say we didn’t play well. They had 10 scoring chances the whole game. They score three goals. You can’t ask our team to do any better than that. Any NHL team will tell you, you give up 10 scoring chances, you’ve got a really good chance to win the hockey game. We’re playing pretty well defensively, a couple breaks here. Unfortunately, some of these turnovers are ending up in the back of our net. In the end, it’s a tough game not to get points out of, that’s for sure.” - Cooper
The Lightning’s next game is tonight in Edmonton.