It's no secret that the Canucks have struggled on the power play, but Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was a whole new low as Vancouver came up empty on seven power play opportunities, including a pair of 5-on-3 advantages.
The Canucks were still in position to come back for a win going into the 3rd period down just 1-0, but the Lightning scored three times (once with an empty net) in the final period to come out with the win going into the All-Star break.
Ryan Miller appeared human again, allowing three goals after going nearly three full games without letting by a goal. However, Vancouver's offense didn't make Miller's job easy as they appeared flat offensively once again after scoring nine goals in their past three games.
Ben Bishop was stellar in net for the Lightning, allowing just one goal on 28 shots.
Ryan Miller, starting his second back-to-back game of the road trip, had to be sharp early as Nikita Kaucherov sent in a one-timer on net, but Miller was able to quickly slide over to his left to make an impressive early save. The Lightning were aggressive defensively early on as the Canucks didn't register a shot on net until almost 15 minutes into the 1st period.
The Lightning would be the first to go to the power play when Alex Edler dragged down Steven Stamkos in front of the net. Vancouver's penalty kill would continue to look strong as Tampa Bay didn't register a shot on net during the man advantage. Coming into tonight, the Canucks ranked 2nd in the league on the penalty kill at 87.9 percent, just behind Chicago who leads the league, killing off penalties 88 percent of the time.
The Canucks would continue to struggle with clean line changes as they were hit with another too many men on the ice penalty midway through the first period. It's one of the simpler penalties to avoid, so there's no doubt Willie Desjardins has to be incredibly frustrated that the Canucks haven't figured out a way to clean up the changes. The penalty was the 10th time this season the Canucks have had too many men on the ice, the most in the NHL.
Late in the first period, the Canucks finally sustained some offensive pressure in Tampa Bay's zone, registering their first shot at the 14:35 mark. Their first good scoring chance came when Daniel Sedin found Radim Vrbata coming up the slot. Daniel and Vrbata hooked up for a scoring play last night against the Panthers, and it looked for a moment as if the duo would create another goal, but Vrbata shot it straight into the pads of Bishop. Another chance came when Bo Horvat, who had a good game last night, found himself in front of the net for a shot on goal at point blank range, but Bishop was able to come up with the stop. All four of Vancouver's shots in the opening period came in the last six minutes.
Miller said he was hoping for a continuation from one game to the next. Pretty close. Last period they had one shot, this one, four— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 21, 2015
The Lightning would start the period on the power play, but just 30 seconds into the period, Nick Bonino was hooked by Steven Stamkos while Bonino was skating in on net. 10 seconds later, Ryan Callahan slashed Frankie Corrado along the boards, creating a 4-on-3 power play. Another penalty against the Lightning would come just over a minute later when Cedric Paquette hooked Chris Tanev, giving the Canucks a 5-on-3 advantage. Vancouver moved the puck around rather lazily with their top power play line and wasn't able to capitalize off any of the power play opportunities in another frustrating golden power play opportunity wasted away.
Frankie Corrado would come up with a huge play defensively after Ryan Callahan wrapped around the net, drawing Miller over to his left, creating an open space for a goal. The wraparound shot deflected off Miller and likely would've been knocked in had Corrado not come in to get the puck out of the crease as Miller had no clue where the puck was.
Tampa Bay would open the scoring late in the 2nd period. Steven Stamkos would feed in the puck towards net, which was deflected off the stick of Dan Hamhuis right to Valterri Filppula who was able to knock it in past Miller to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. On the scoring play, Bieksa skated over to help Hamhuis, which allowed Filppula to rush in on net uncovered.
The Canucks would end the period on the power play as Jonathan Drouin was sent off for hi-sticking against Linden Vey. However, after Alex Edler forced a turnover against Anton Stralman and creating a great scoring chance for himself, Stralman went down rather easily and as a result, Vancouver's power play quickly came to an end.
The Lightning opened the third period with a goal just 11 seconds into the period as Alex Killorn picked up a loose puck off the boards and sniped in a shot from the face-off circle to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. The way Vancouver's offense looked in the previous 40 minutes, the deficit seemed quite daunting.
Tampa Bay would then add to their lead four minutes later. The scoring play stemmed from when the linesman waved off an icing call, allowing Brett Connolly to get it out from behind the net to Brian Boyle for the goal. Luca Sbisa and Connolly had gotten to the puck at just about the same time, so it looked to be a fair call.
The game would go from bad to worse for the Canucks as Kevin Bieksa took a hard slapshot to the wrist, immediately throwing down his stick and glove in pain. Bieksa headed straight to the dressing room and would not return.
Vancouver finally beat Bishop midway through the 3rd period as Alex Burrows took the puck from the far blue line all the way down ice, and Frankie Corrado stuck with Burrows to tap in the goal, making it a 3-1 game. The goal didn't come easy, as Burrows had to handle the puck all the way down the ice while it was rolling on its side.
What. I don’t. Who. What was that?— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) January 21, 2015
The Canucks would get their second 5-on-3 opportunity of the night with 8:43 to go in regulation, prompting Willie Desjardins to use his timeout to try and chalk up a scoring play to make it a 1-goal game. After moving the puck a little quicker than the first time around, the 5-on-3 was nullified when Radim Vrbata was sent off for tripping. The Canucks didn't manage a shot during the two man advantage.
Vancouver had another shot on the power play in one of the more bizarre penalties. Steven Stamkos was sent off for playing the face-off with his hand, knocking it away as it bounced up off the ice. Stamkos was livid as he went off, and so were the fans, who booed for the duration of the power play. Of course, the Canucks came up empty yet again as Alex Killorn would go on to add an empty netter for his second goal of the night to wrap up the win for the Lightning.
It's All-Star break time! The Canucks have the next week off before returning on January 27 to take on Ryan Kesler and the Ducks at Rogers Arena. Radim Vrbata will be representing the Canucks at the All-Star game in Columbus on January 25. It'll be interesting to see how the Canucks come out and play after the break.