The Vancouver Canucks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday. In spite of what looked like a promising start — for nearly four minutes — not much of anything worked very well for the Lightning in this one.
The Lightning dominated play very early on, maintaining possession in the Vancouver zone and getting the first six shots of the game. But a bad turnover by Nikita Kucherov allowed Jack Skille to skate in and score point-blank on Ben Bishop at 3:50, the Canucks’ first shot of the game. He was assisted on the play by Erik Gudbranson. The Lightning’s enthusiasm looked severely dampened.
“Yeah, I think we didn’t have the response we wanted. I think arguably that was maybe our best five minutes of hockey to start a period we’ve played all season. It’s frustrating when they go down and score. I think it was their first shot. They make a good play, but we have to have a better response. We didn’t have the response we needed. We got a lot of shots, but we can’t let one goal like that affect us as much as it did.” - Lightning forward Alex Killorn
At 9:03, Bishop attempted to handle the puck after a rebound off the back wall and knocked the puck into his own net with his glove hand. Gudbranson was credited with the goal. A 2-0 deficit is certainly manageable with over 50 minutes of hockey to play, but there was a palpable sense of deflation after that goal, and whatever spark there had been at the beginning of the game seem to be extinguished.
“We talked about that after the game. As soon as we’ve got good things going, I thought we came out, we were outstanding and they come down, one shot, it’s in the net. It seemed that was it. The little bit of adversity hits, which I didn’t think was any at all. There’s 55 minutes left and I thought we were playing hard. Guys were doing some good things and then we just kind of stopped. They obviously get the second one, it’s a lucky one and then we really went down. For me, we’re battling back. We’re doing some good things. Our PP looked really good. Miller was making some good saves, but I thought territorially we had the advantage. But the fourth one was the killer. We’re clearly thinking about the wrong net. You go into the room down 3-1, which I thought we had momentum. We lost it all right there on that goal, and we were just completely thinking about the wrong net. We were all going one way, and Vancouver had other ideas. We turn it over, and it’s in the back of our net. That is a microcosm of what’s been going on lately.” - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
After carrying that 2-0 lead into the first intermission, Vancouver pulled out to 3-0 at 6:01 of the second when Jayson Megna deflected Alex Biega’s shot past Bishop. Nikita Tryamkin picked up the secondary assist.
The play was reviewed on a coach’s challenge that Daniel Sedin was offside on the play. It was close, but the call on the ice was correctly upheld.
The Lightning dented the lead at 11:46 when Jonathan Drouin cleaned TB 27 cleaning up a rebound that squirted out to him from Valtteri Filppula’s shot. Luke Witkowski got the other assist to tally his first point of the season. After that the Lightning surged for a bit, but Vancouver netminder Ryan Miller was up to the challenge.
The Canucks got the back-breaker at 19:59 when Megna scored on assists from Daniel Sedin and Markus Granlund, making the score 4-1 after two periods.
Andrei Vasilevskiy relieved Bishop at the beginning of the third period. Bishop stopped 16 of the 20 shots he faced on the night and Vasilevskiy would go on to hold off nine of the ten he would face.
At 13:58, Vancouver finished off the scoring on another goal from Skille, this time assisted by Brendan Gaunce.
Jacob Markstrom came in for the final 6:02 to mop up for Miller, who was outstanding, stopping 38 of 39 attempts.
The Lightning will be home again on Saturday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.