Lightning can strike more than twice apparently. The Vancouver Canucks opened 2014 on the wrong note Wednesday night, falling 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, marking the first time in franchise history the Lightning have won in Vancouver. You really only needed to commit about 20 minutes of your night to know everything that happened in this game, which included a wild span of 34 seconds featuring a combined three goals from both teams.
The Lightning came out shooting, putting Eddie Lack to work early. Lack, who came into the game with a 5-0-1 record this season, faced 11 shots in the first period with the bulk majority of those coming early on. With Luongo injured, Lack is being asked unexpectedly to step up into a starter’s role, something a backup needs to be ready for at all times. So far, Lack has accepted the challenge in a way that would make Barney Stinson proud.
With just four minutes left in the opening period, Ryan Kesler was tripped up on a rush off a Lightning turnover, drawing the first penalty of the night. Unfortunately for the Canucks, going on the power play isn’t as good of news as it should be. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Vancouver had scored just once in their last 17 power plays over the previous six games.
The pace of the game picked up halfway though the middle period with both teams taking the intensity up a notch. The Canucks had their best scoring chance when Dale Weise charged in on net, creating a rebound opportunity for Tom Sestito. Neither was able to capitalize however, and the game would remain scoreless.
Finally, after killing their second power play of the night, Brad Richardson opened the scoring with an open wrister at 8:35. A big hip check by Dan Hamhuis created the scoring chance, as Richardson was able to come up with his eighth goal of the year, giving the Canucks the 1-0 lead.
Moments after the Canucks came up empty yet again on the power play, the Lightning evened things up with a wrister by Valtteri Filppula. Hamhuis attempted to dump the puck deeper into Tampa’s zone, but the clearing attempt was blocked, creating the rush and the scoring chance.
Just twenty seconds later, Tyler Johnson gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot past lack, sucking the air out of Rogers Arena. After clearing a puck from out along the boards and up the ice, Ondrej Palat was off to the races along with Johnson. Lack seemed totally unaware that Johnson was right there on his other side, ready for the pass. Lack overcommitted, and Johnson was able to come up with the easy finish.
Just 14 seconds later, the Canucks answered right back with a goal of their own. The play started when it looked like there might have been an icing call against Vancouver, but play would go on. The Canucks managed to come up with the puck amidst the confusion as Zac Dalpe finished off the chaotic play off a pass from Dale Weise to tie the game back up at 2-2.
Then, with just 2.2 seconds left in the period, Tampa added in one more goal to head into the final intermission with the lead. Radko Gudas managed to keep the puck in the zone, finding Nikita Kucherov across the ice for the last-second power play goal, blasting it off the post and into the net for a rare power play goal against the Canucks.
John Tortorella’s face heading into the dressing room summed up the entire period, as he was probably making a beeline for his Advil, or a shot of his finest liquor in his desk, the latter being more likely. Heck, he probably did both.
The Lightning would extend their lead in the third period with a redirection goal by Alex Kilorn, created off a shot towards the net by Victor Hedman. Early in the game we all thought Eddie Lack was some kind of machine. Maybe he’s only half machine.
That final goal in the third period would be all the Lightning would need to hold off the Canucks for the win to start 2014. Vancouver will now spend the weekend among beaches and palm trees as they head to southern California to take on the Kings and Ducks in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.