Lightning hold on to beat Canucks 2-1, snap 3-game skid
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Ross Colton and Victor Hedman scored in the game’s first six minutes, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made the early goals stand in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night that snapped a three-game skid.
Vasilevskiy stopped 35 shots for Tampa Bay, which was coming off a 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Saturday night. The Lightning improved to 7-0-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
“I feel like we’re pretty consistent on back-to-backs this season, so I was pretty confident in our team and we had a pretty good mood in the locker room before the game so it helps a lot obviously,” Vasilevskiy said. “I thought obviously a good start was huge because we didn’t have that last few games. So yeah, good start and we stuck with it.”
The Canucks won despite dealing with plane troubles that kept them in Alberta overnight after the loss to the Oilers. They didn’t arrive in Vancouver until about four hours before puck drop.
“I think that’s part of being a pro. You have to be able to adapt to situations,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Everything is not going to be exactly the same as it always is and so how can you mentally focus for the game? And the guys, in general, kept their focus.”
J.T. Miller extended his points streak to 12 games by scoring the lone goal for Vancouver. Miller has 24 goals this season, with eight of them coming during this stretch, along with six assists.
Thatcher Demko made 29 saves for the Canucks.
Hedman gave the Lightning a quick lead, finding the back of the net 3:26 into the opening period. The goal was set up by a a scramble in Vancouver’s crease. Demko stopped a shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, but appeared to lose track of the puck and as he attempted to find it and Hedman popped a shot into the net.
Colton made it 2-0 5:06 into the first, ripping a snap shot from the hash marks to beat Demko.
Tampa Bay nearly took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission after Steven Stamkos ripped a one-timer past Demko with 57.4 seconds left. But the Canucks quickly launched an offside challenge and a video review officially reversed the call and it was not a goal.
Vancouver struggled to break out of their zone early in the game and Tampa Bay outshot the Canucks 12-1 over the first seven minutes.
“We understand the character we have in our room and we never feel like we’re out of it, but we ... just have to have better starts. It’s killing us right now,” Canucks forward Conor Garland said. “If we just have a better start and play like we did in the second and the third we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”
Vancouver is 10-18-5 when allowing the first goal this season. Coach Bruce Boudreau was at a loss when asked to explain what his team needs to do to get off to a positive start.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Get some psychologists in here and we’ll work with them.”
Miller finally put Vancouver on the scoreboard 5:54 into the third with a quick shot from the bottom of the slot that beat Vasilevskiy stick side.
Minutes later, Garland poked a lose puck in past Vasilevskiy — only to see the goal called off as it came after the referee’s whistle. A large scrum followed along the end boards in response.
Vancouver pulled Demko with 70 seconds left, but the Canucks couldn’t tie the game with the extra attacker.
NOTES: Both teams were 0 for 2 with the man advantage on Sunday. ... Vancouver was without Elias Pettersson, who’s considered day to day with an upper-body injury. Sunday marked the first game the star center has missed this season. ... Lightning forward Alex Killorn played his 700th NHL game. ... RW Sheldon Rempal made his season debut for the Canucks. ... The Lightning played their first game in Vancouver since Dec. 18, 2018.
Lightning: Wrap up a six-game road trip with a game at Seattle on Wednesday night.
Canucks: Continue their homestand Tuesday against New Jersey.
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