The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their success in the second half of back-to-back games as they defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Sunday night. Victor Hedman and Ross Colton scored for the Lightning while old friend J.T. Miller had the lone goal for the Canucks. Andrei Vasilevskiy and Thatcher Demko were both solid in net making 35 and 29 saves respectively.
Having played a tough game the night before it was imperative that the Lightning got off to a strong start against Vancouver. Who knows what shape their legs would be in by the third period, especially considering the amount of time they spent killing penalties against Edmonton. So getting an early lead and not having to chase the game would be a tremendous help to them.
Even with that in mind, few probably expected the start that the Lightning had on Sunday night. They swarmed the Vancouver net and pummeled Thatcher Demko with shots early on, building a 10-1 advantage in shots.
With that kind of pressure it was only a matter of time before the Lightning found the back of the net. It was Victor Hedman going to the front of the net (where good things happen) that resulted in the first goal. Pat Maroon made a nice play just to shovel the puck onto the net and Hedman followed up with his 15th goal of the season.
Victor Hedman (Pat Marron, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare) 1-0 Tampa Bay
The lines were all shook up by Coach Cooper with Corey Perry jumping up on a line with Ross Colton and Mathieu Joseph. That change worked out as the veteran stripped Travis Hamonic of the puck in the Vancouver zone. He then fed it to Colton who ripped home a shot from the slot to double the lead.
Ross Colton (Corey Perry) 2-0 Tampa Bay
Demko made two key saves on Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov shortly after that helped settle the Canucks down a bit. Had either one of those rockets gone in, the game would have been completely out of hand. Instead, the Lightning ended up taking a penalty and the Canucks, while not scoring, righted the ship a bit.
It looked like the Lightning did get that third goal right at the end of the period as Stamkos ripped a one-timer to the far corner of the net, but the Canucks challenged the play for offsides. After a brief review it was determined that Stammer had crossed the line a little early - no goal.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Lightning dominated play at 5v5 with 63.64% of the shot attempts and 85.71% (6-1) of the High Danger chances. Vancouver did have a couple of nice looks on the power play, but couldn’t find a goal.
Whatever was ailing the Canucks in the first ten minutes of the game had dissipated by the second period. They flipped the script on the Lightning and were the team dictating play both on the power play and at even strength. Luckily for Tampa Bay, they have a gentleman by the name of Andrei Vasilevskiy in net.
Here he is stopping old friend J.T. Miller.
The second period has been the Andrei Vasilevskiy Show. https://t.co/2YQ5ynjSgd— Raw Charge, a Champa Bay Lightning web site (@RawCharge) March 14, 2022
Vasy ended up making 14 saves in the period, with the majority of them coming early when Vancouver was really dominating play. The Lightning survived and almost found the back of the net on a late power play when Stamkos had a one-timer stopped by Demko. For the briefest of moments it looked like The Captain would have an easy rebound goal into an empty net, but Demko scuttled over to stop the follow-up shot as well.
The period began as it ended, 2-0, but unlike in the first when the Lightning had the Canucks on the ropes, it was Tampa Bay that was holding on as the whistle sounded. Vasilevskiy looked to be in prime form for most of the game, holding Vancouver off of the scoreboard despite the numbers projecting their expected goals at 2.25 through two periods of action.
The first five minutes or so went pretty well for the Lightning as they kept Vancouver away from dangerous areas and even had a few chances of their own (Kucherov with a quick shot from the slot being a prime example). However, following a prime chance from Alex Killorn on a breakaway that was denied, the Canucks caught Tampa Bay relaxing a little.
The puck was shot down into the Lightning corner and Erik Cernak had the choice of pressuring the puck in the corner or staying at home and covering the front of the net. He chose to go to the corner, which left J.T. Miller all alone in front of the net. When Cernak couldn’t pin the puck or Conor Garland against the boards, Miller had an easy deflection past Vasilevskiy to cut the score to 2-1.
J.T. Miller (Conor Garland, Tanner Pearson) 2-1 Tampa Bay
Could that have been ruled an icing? Possibly, but it wasn’t and the Canucks took advantage of the Lightning being out of position. The home crowd was excited a few minutes later when Tanner Pearson tapped a loose puck into the net, but the refs had already blown the play dead - no goal and a chorus of jeers for the men in the black and white stripes.
A few minutes later, the crowd roared it’s disapproval at the officiating once again as a high-sticking call against Jan Rutta was overturned after the took a look at it again and determined that Rutta was following through with his stick, thus not being a penalty.
As the period wore on the Lightning did an excellent job of clogging up the neutral zone and forcing Vancouver to either dump the puck in or try and enter wide, which made it much easier to defend. When the Bolts controlled the puck in their own zone they made sure to clear it and then work it down the ice, constantly forcing Vancouver to go the entire length of the rink to set up their offense.
Time eventually ran out with the Lightning still leading on the scoreboard. The 2-1 victory snapped a season-long three-game losing streak and gave them a chance to end the road trip on a positive note if they can pick up another win against Seattle on Wednesday. One more late game to go, folks!