The Tampa Bay Lightning returned from a four-game road trip with a seven game winning streak. It would be understandable if they stumbled a bit, especially with the equally hot Vancouver Canucks on the other side of the ice. It was a pretty even match for just over half the game and then the Lightning dominated the rest of the way.
A four-goal outburst in the last five minutes of the second period tied a highly competitive 2-2 game into a laugher. Carter Verhaeghe scored three times to pick up his first career hat trick while Brayden Point had four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and Steven Stamkos added three of his own (1 goal, 2 assists).
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 21 of 23 shots for his seventh win a row.
The first period had a pretty good pace to it, which is what you would expect from two skilled teams in the midst of long winning streaks. The Lightning controlled much of the play early, but were unable to get the puck to bounce the right way and into the net.
Alex Killorn had a great chance early in the period. It came off a rebound from a Cedric Paquette snapshot. Killorn had the puck and the time to stickhandle from his forehand to his backhand, but the one thing he didn’t have was space and he was unable to tuck it between the post and Jacob Markstrom’s skate.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was left with little work as he only faced two shots on net for the first 18 minutes of the period. Vancouver picked up their offense in the last two minutes and managed to find the back of the net after the Lightning turned a bad bounce into an even worse turnover.
Defenseman Jan Ruttta slid low to block a centering pass. Which he did, albeit with the side of his face, which wasn’t ideal. Slightly shook up he added off the ice as Steven Stamkos scooped up the loose puck and skated up ice. Things would have been fine except the captain turned the puck over inside the blueline and Brock Boeser was able to slide it to Elias Pettersson who was behind everyone. A nifty little move opened up Vasilevaskiy’s five-hole and Pettersson slid it in for his 20th goal.
After a pretty tightly contested beginning to the period, the Lightning thoroughly dominated the end of it. Tyler Johnson tied the score after Victor Hedman made a nice read to disrupt an Alex Edler breakout pass. Palat tapped a pass to Johnson’s shot that Markstrom got a piece of, but couldn’t prevent Johnson from poking it home after the puck dropped down behind him.
The Lightning took the lead on a power play goal by Steven Stamkos who snapped a wrister shortside off of a Brayden Point face-off win. Louis Ericsson managed to tie the game by deflecting a pass from Bo Harvart off of Hedman’s skate and past a frozen Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning then took over as they scored five goals (four that counted) in the final five minutes of the period.
Alex Killorn kicked things off by sliding the puck under Markstrom’s pads on a breakaway.
Two minutes later Carter Verhaeghe received a nifty pass from Point and fired a shot
off the crossbar. After a short Vancouver rush the Lightning had a nice shot from the circles. Verhaeghe tapped a pass over to Mitchell Stephens who put it past Markstrom.
Strike that last part. After a brief review it was determined that Verhaeghe’s shot actually hit the support behind the crossbar. He gets credit for the goal and we get roughly 45 seconds of game time back.
Which is cool because 30 seconds later Point won another faceoff in the Vancouver zone and this time it’s Nikita Kucherov who banged a one-timer past Markstrom.
Thirty seconds after that goal Erik Cernak chased Jacob Markstrom from the game by blasting a shot from just inside the blueline through a screen and into the back of the net.
Not a bad stretch of play.
Because the rules required it, they played the third period. Things did not get better for Vancouver. Five minutes into the final frame Brayden Point raced in on the right side. His initial shot was blocked but the rebound came back to Point and he beat Thatcher Demko for his 18th goal of the season.
Even a lengthy five-on-three power play failed to generate any offense for Vancouver. Meanwhile, the Lightning kept coming. Verhaeghe finished off a bullet of a pass across the crease from Mitchell Stephens for his second goal of the game (Syracuse fans watching the game may have had some deja vu, as Stephens to Verhaeghe to beat Demko seemed to happen regularly in games between the Crunch and the Utica Comets over the last two years).
Just when it looked like things would end without any shenanigans Jake Virtanen clipped Ondrej Palat with a shoulder to the chest a little late. It touched off a little scrum in front of the benches. Initially ruled a major penalty, after review Virtanen ended up with just a two-minute charging penalty and Palat went to the dressing room.
Midway through the penalty it became a five-on-three after Vancouver was assessed a bench penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (a few too many not-safe-for-a-family-publication words were most likely directed at the officials) and Carter Verhaeghe made them pay. Kucherov slid a pass across the ice and the rookie buried a one-timer for his first career hat trick.
Verhaeghe almost tied the team record of four goals in a game with less than a minute to play when he snuck in front of the net and tried to slide the puck under Demko’s pads, but the Canucks goaltender made the save and kept the Lightning from fulfilling the crowd’s chanted request for ten goals.
The Lightning return to the ice on Thursday as they host the Arizona Coyotes.
Elias Pettersson (Brock Boeser) : 1-0 Vancouver
Tyler Johnson (Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman): Tied Game
Steven Stamkos (Brayden Point) Power Play: 2-1 Tampa Bay
Louis Eriksson (Bo Horvat, Chris Tanev): Tied Game
Alex Killorn (unassisted): 3-2 Tampa Bay
Carter Verhaeghe (Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde): 4-2 Tampa Bay
Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point): 5-2 Tampa Bay
Erik Cernak (Steven Stamkos, Braydon Coburn): 6-2 Tampa Bay
Brayden Point (Steven Stamkos, Erik Cernak): 7-2 Tampa Bay
Carter Verhaeghe (Mitchell Stephens): 8-2 Tampa Bay
Carter Verhaeghe (Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev) Power Play: 9-2 Tampa Bay