The Tampa Bay Lightning allowed the Vancouver Canucks to scare them late in the contest, but the Bolts ultimately topped the Canucks by a score of 4-2. Cory Conacher’s penalty shot goal was the brace that ended the comeback that Vancouver was mounting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off the game in style. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point do a couple give-and-go’s around the perimeter of the offensive zone before kicking the puck out to the point. Anton Stralman throws the puck on from the left-side of the blueline and Chris Kunitz is able to get
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The second (maybe first) line of Kunitz-Point-Kucherov are really feeling it in this game. They’ve been smothering in the defensive zone and extremely effective in the offensive zone. Kucherov was able to circle in front of the net completely unguarded and let loose a .50 calibre bullet towards the top-right corner that forced Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom into making a fabulous glove save.
Steven Stamkos picks up the puck in the high slot from Kucherov and feeds a steaming Victor Hedman who was barrelling down the slot. The big defenseman picks the five-hole like its nothing. Two-goal lead for the Bolts barely six minutes into the game.
Vancouver’s top line comes out of the TV timeout with a dangerous shift in the offensive zone. Thomas Vanek and Jake Virtanen both getting good shots off in the slot that Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be agile and aware to corrale.
Alex Killorn picks up the puck from Yanni Gourde in the defensive zone before streaking up the center of the ice. Killer gets into the offensive zone and dumps the puck in before getting dropped by Michael Del Zotto at the blue line. The former New York Ranger gets called for interference. Lightning to the power play.
The first unit isn’t able to get much done, but on the second unit, Mikhail Sergachev walks around the entire four-man penalty kill unit and dekes on Markstrom. Unfortunately, the big goaltender is able to get a pad on the shot and deflect it wide. Still, not bad for a teenager.
Vladislav Namestnikov hits Brandon Sutter hard in the corner and the Canuck centerman does not like it. Brendan Gaunce goes after Vladdy and the two get into a tussle between the benches. After the dust clears, the two wingers are in the penalty box for two minutes. Roughing is the charge.
If you are a Lightning fan, you couldn’t ask for a better period from the team. The Bolts are up by a couple goals, Kucherov appears to be snapping out of his cold-streak, and Vasy has been solid when called upon. The Canucks may have the shot attempt (14-18) and scoring chance (5-10) lead so far in this game, but the Lightning are leading in shots (12-10). Adjusting for score (the trailing team tends to shoot more) shows that the numbers are a litttle closer (16-16 in shot attempts).
Henrik Sedin nearly gets the pass across to Brock Boeser on a 2-on-1 but Matthew Peca is able to catch up to the puck and break up the play.
The Lightning have slowly started to get out-played by the Canucks in the second period. Brock Boeser was able to hold the puck in the high slot and draw four Bolts towards him, allowing Troy Stetcher to walk off the bench and right into the scoring area. Vasy stands tall and redirects the puck into the corner, but the cracks in the Lightning armor brings cause for concern.
Call me crazy but Brock Boeser would've been an outstanding offensive right-handed defenseman. His ability to control the puck at the offensive blueline and get shots through is something you expect to see out of defensemen like Jake Gardiner.— Wise Content Lad (@HardevLad) February 4, 2018
Point jumps onto the ice, plays the puck, and immediately gets hit by his former Team Canada teammate Jake Virtanen near the bench. Point would get right back up, and other than Sergachev skating over to Virtanen to give him a little scolding, nothing would come of it.
On the next shift, Point steals the puck from Boeser just as he was about to set up Vanek for a one-timer, releasing Slater Koekkoek and the rest of the five-man unit on a very odd-man 4-on-1 break. Chris Tanev does a good job to cover all the passes, forcing Koekkoek to shoot the puck just a little too high.
Peca picks up the puck from Sergachev in the defensive zone, bursts through the neutral zone, slides the puck to his right to Yanni Gourde. Gourde sets up for the shot but sees Sergachev wide open in the pocket between the Canucks defensemen covering Peca and the wingers who are trailing behind. Gourde and Sergachev complete a give-and-go that Gourde finishes with a one-timer that finds twine. The Raw Charge Player of the Month continues to be very Gourde.
Psst.. The article for Player of the Month for January won’t be out until Sunday so don’t tell anyone I told you until then. [look who’s peeking at the editorial queue..JustinG.]
Exploding water bottle goal by Gourde pic.twitter.com/LPQk3G5oue— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 4, 2018
Del Zotto — who seems to have also noticed Stamkos’ feisty behaviour lately — elbows Stamkos in the Vancouver Canucks corner, sending the Lightning to the power play. The Lightning get several great chances...but no shots on net. Right as the penalty expires, Vladdy Namestnikov gets caught for holding. I thought it was tripping, if we are behind honest, but it’s a two minute penalty nonetheless. The call was made with only 3.7 seconds left in the period, so the majority of the man disadvantage will have to be killed at the start of the third.
The Lightning are now cleanly getting out attempted (27-36), and chanced (11-27) in this game. The shots are still in Tampa’s favor (19-16) but the the Lightning are definitely getting out worked. The main discrepancy between the shot metrics and the score probably just boils down to the big divide in talent between the two teams.
The @TBLightning hold a 3-0 lead on the Canucks after two periods. Defenseman Victor Hedman explains how the Bolts did it and what they need to do in the final 20 minutes. #GoBolts #NHL pic.twitter.com/EkXQzTPT9x— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) February 4, 2018
Peca wins the opening draw and sends the puck back to Stralman who shoots the puck not only down the ice, but up and over the glass behind Markstrom. The referees convene at the timekeepers bench and decide that Stralman did indeed shoot the puck from his own zone, meaning it’s a delay of game. On the 5-on-3, Vasilevskiy stops everything that comes his way, whether it’s a Boeser snapper, Alex Edler one-timer, or Louis Eriksson rebound chance. Without the 23-year-old netminder, the Canucks would definitely be on the board and back in the game.
Matt Peca has points in each of his last four games, a plus-8 in that span, #tblightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) February 4, 2018
Stamkos and Del Zotto once again get extremely intimate with each other, this time in front of the net. Stamkos gives Del Zotto a big cross-check, breaking his stick. Another power play for the Canucks.
Oh, well, maybe not as Bo Horvat goes to the box for tripping Peca off the faceoff. 4-on-4 for 1:57 before a 3 second power play for the Lightning. I wonder if they’ll score on it.
Horvat is able to peel away from a falling Jake Dotchin at the Lightning blue line and comes in all alone on Vasilevskiy for a breakaway. Horvat fakes the shot, forcing Vasy to go down but the young goalie is able to extend his right leg behind him, stopping the equally young Vancouver centerman cold.
Thomas Vanek makes Vasy bite on the short side before scooting around for a wraparound, breaking the shutout with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Stetcher and Boeser get the assists on the goal.
Six minutes to play. Down two goals. Score a goal every three minutes. Easy! pic.twitter.com/qJawdafQ7C— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 4, 2018
Oh dear. You could feel it coming but it finally arrived. Brock Boeser gets released by Brandon Sutter, cuts across to his strong right side, and beats Vasilevskiy clean. All you can do when you watch that is tip your hat to that kind of talent.
Cory Conacher gets sprung for a breakaway after picking the puck from Chris Tanev but gets high-sticked by the same Canucks defenseman just as he was about to shoot the puck. The call is a bit of a complicated one. Conacher earns a penalty shot, but since he got cut on the play, the Lightning will have a two-minute power play regardless if Conacher scores or not. With 3:24 left to play in the game and a one goal lead, this is probably the best possible outcome.
Cory — bloody mouth and all — steps up and converts on the penalty shot of his career. He now has six goals and nine points on the year (nice). It looks like the wind has blown out of the Canucks’ sails that started howling barely moments before.
Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point would step onto the ice after an unsuccessful power play and essentially kill of the rest of the game in the Canucks zone. A clean end to a scary third period.
Tonight’s #TBLvsVAN 3 Stars:— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 4, 2018
The Lightning will conclude their four-game Western Canadian roadtrip on Monday when they travel to Edmonton to play the lowly Oilers at 9pm EST.