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Lightning overwhelm Vancouver to extend winning streak to eight games

Alex Walworth | The Scrum Sports

Upon returning home after sweeping a four-game road trip and winning their seventh in a row, the Tampa Bay Lightning hosted an equally hot Vancouver Canucks team. In fact, the Canucks also entered Tuesday’s meeting at Amalie Arena with a seven-game winning streak of their own. 

However, it became very apparent late in the second period that the Lightning (25-13-4, 54 points) would be the one to keep their streak going. The Bolts overwhelmed Vancouver (23-16-4, 50 points) with four goals in the span of 2:55, capping off a scintillating six-goal second period that propelled the Lightning to a 9-2 win on home ice. With the victory, the Lightning have not only won eight in a row (their longest since a 10-game winning streak last season), but they now own sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division by a point over the Toronto Maple Leafs. On top of that, they still have two games in hand on the Leafs and now trail the first-place Boston Bruins by seven points.

While the score turned out to be lopsided, it took some time for the game to get to that point

But once it did, there was nothing Vancouver could do to slow Tampa Bay down. The six-goal performance in that middle period also tied a franchise record.

Leading the way was Carter Verhaeghe, who notched the first hat trick of his NHL career. On top of the goals, Verhaeghe was a force in all aspects of the game, creating opportunities throughout the night. Even if Verhaeghe hadn’t notched a hat trick, it was still probably his best all-around performance in a Lightning uniform. Brayden Point scored a goal and added three assists (all primary), Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and two assists, while Nikita Kucherov and Erik Cernak added a goal and an assist each, and Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn also found the back of the net.

The Lightning controlled play early on, but poor puck management cost them a goal

While the score after 20 minutes showed Vancouver holding a 1-0 lead, the Lightning largely controlled action for much of the period. They spent a lot of time in the Canucks’ zone, keeping up the pressure both at 5-on-5 and at even strength. However, their high-danger chances proved to be fantastic. Cernak wheeled around the back of the net and fed Cedric Paquette in front for a one-timer. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom made the save, but Killorn found himself alone in front with the puck. Attempting to deke the Canucks’ netminder, Killorn couldn’t lift the puck and Markstrom made the save. During a power play, Kevin Shattenkirk set up Ondrej Palat with a beautiful backdoor feed, but Palat’s redirection barely missed an open net.

Tampa Bay mostly held the Canucks in check, as their best chance early on came off a Bo Horvat shot that rang off the post on a Vancouver power play. Unfortunately for the Lightning, their puck management over the final couple of minutes cost them dearly. Stamkos committed a pair of turnovers, including one at the Bolts’ blue line. Brock Boeser intercepted the puck and worked it to Elias Pettersson.

Pettersson is one of the last guys in the NHL you’d want 1-on-1 with your goalie, and he deked Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy enough to open up his legs before slipping the puck through the five-hole to put Vancouver up 1-0 with 1:02 left in the period. Tampa Bay survived a late scare in the dying seconds when Mikhail Sergachev’s stick broke on a pass attempt, forcing Vasilevskiy to make a big save on Dominic Roussel. Tampa Bay held a 16-10 lead in shot attempts and an 8-7 lead in shots on goal.

The Lightning get back on track, but Vancouver hangs in there

At the 4:21 mark of the second period, Victor Hedman forced a turnover leading to a brilliant passing sequence between himself, Palat, and Johnson. Johnson zipped a shot on net that Markstrom stopped. Despite this, the puck bounced into the air and hit the post before landing in the crease. A wild scramble saw Johnson get to it first, poking it in for his 10th of the season, tying the game 1-1. Halfway through the period, Tampa Bay found themselves on a power play, and just two seconds into the man-advantage, Stamkos made up for his earlier mistake by scoring right off the faceoff to put the Bolts up 2-1.

The Canucks began plugging away, eventually tying it 2-2 on a goal off a weird deflection. Horvat put it on net, where it was deflected by Loui Eriksson. That deflection then took a carom off of Hedman’s skate and into the net, tying it 2-2 with 5:55 left on the clock. Not long after, the Lightning’s offensive onslaught began and it wouldn’t let up.

Catching Lightning in a bottle

A mere 1:02 after Eriksson’s goal, Killorn continued his hot streak. Pouncing on a mistake by Tyler Myers at the Lightning blue line, Killorn raced down the left wing all alone, cut to the net, and beat Markstrom for his 17th goal of the season, placing the Lightning ahead 3-2. Verhaeghe then tallied his first of the night, although it wasn’t apparent at first. Verhaeghe’s one-timer off a rush appeared to hit the crossbar and stay out, but moments later, Mitchell Stephens scored to make it 4-2. Upon further video review, the officials confirmed that Verhaeghe’s shot indeed went in the net and quickly bounced out, giving him the goal and taking it away from Stephens with 2:54 left on the clock.

Kucherov added to the barrage, making it 5-2 on a shot off another faceoff win. Markstrom stopped it, but the puck trickled through and Markstrom ended up knocking it into his own net, giving Kucherov his 15th of the season. Erik Cernak continued the pile-on 25 seconds after Kucherov, as his shot from the point beat Markstrom to extend the lead to 6-2 on his third of the season. By this point, Vancouver head coach Travis Green took mercy on Markstrom, pulling him after he allowed six goals goals on 21 shots and putting Thatcher Demko in the crease. While the opposing goaltender changed, the Lightning wouldn’t let up going into the third period.

Verhaeghe finishes the hat trick and Vasilevskiy slams the door shut

While Vasilevskiy wasn’t particularly busy, he made key saves when needed when the game was still close, finishing with 21 saves on 23 shots. Meanwhile, Point tacked on the Lightning’s seventh goal at the 4:37 mark when he beat Demko from a sharp angle for his 18th of the year.

Later in the period, Verhaeghe put the final exclamation points on this win, scoring a goal off a blistering pass from Stephens to make it 8-2.

With under two minutes left, the Lightning found themselves on a power play, and with the Bolts holding a commanding lead, Verhaeghe was sent over the boards with a chance to get the hat trick. A slick setup by Kucherov led to Verhaeghe’s third goal of the night and fifth of the season, a roar from the Amalie Arena faithful, a cascade of hats, and a joyous mob of teammates waiting for Verhaeghe at the Lightning bench.

The Lightning return to action on Thursday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7 pm. For more postgame coverage of tonight’s game check out The Scrum Sports’ page on YouTube.

Game Notes

-The Lightning out-shot the Canucks 37-23. Tampa Bay also owned a 61-42 advantage in shot attempts at all strengths and a 49-26 edge in 5-on-5 shot attempts.

-Vasilevskiy has now won six starts in a row and nine of his last 11.

-Killorn has eight goals in his last 10 games.

-The Lightning’s three goals in 56 seconds is the third-fastest span in which they’ve scored three goals in team history.

-The Lightning are now the third team in the NHL to score six goals in a period this season

-Point’s three assists all came in the second period, tying the team record for most assists by a player in a period, which was set by Hedman on December 28 against the Montreal Canadiens.

-Tonight’s game marked the third time in team history and second time this season that they scored nine goals in a game. All three have occurred on home ice. The others were on November 14, 2019 in a 9-3 win over the New York Rangers and November 8, 2003 in a 9-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Carter Verhaeghe – First career NHL hat trick

2nd Star: Brayden Point – One goal and three assists

3rd Star: Steven Stamkos – One goal and two assists

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