VANCOUVER – While Valtteri Filppula maintained his consistency, the young talent of the Tampa Bay Lightning also continued to produce in a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on New Year's Day.
"We played a solid road game," head coach Jon Cooper said. "We fell behind, found a way to get the lead and held on to it."
Filppula, who has 12 points in eight games including five multi-point games in his past seven, scored Tampa Bay's first goal, while Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn followed suit Sunday night at Rogers Arena. Filppula also added an assist.
"Our biggest aspect is our speed," Johnson said of the Lightning's youth-filled roster. "The more experience we get the better off we're going to be and we're beginning to play a smarter game. We also have a lot of skill on this team."
In their first victory of the New Year, the Bolts shook off consecutive home losses as they have now been successful in four straight away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Despite not receiving an Olympic bid with Team USA, Ben Bishop dusted it off with his 21st win of the season. He is now tied for second in the league along with San Jose Sharks netminder Antti Niemi in that category.
Brad Richardson opened up the scoring 30 minutes into the game for a 1-0 Canucks lead after each side's netminders opened up the contest hot. Yet four minutes later, three goals were exchanged 34 seconds a part.
Filppula was fed the puck after Killorn carried it into the Lightning's zone. Killorn then passed to Teddy Purcell, who after a quick touch sent the puck to Filppula. Filppula used the screen and sent a laser past Canucks goalie Eddie Lack's stick side.
The Lightning then took a 2-1 lead 20 seconds later as Ondrej Palat and Johnson led a 2-on-1 in front of Lack. Johnson finished with a wrist shot glove side at 15:47 for a 2-1 lead.
"Palat beat the guy up the ice and we had a nice 2-on-1," Johnson said. "Then the Canucks defenseman slid and Palat found me at the back door and I had a wide open cage to bury the puck."
The last of three quick goals came from Zac Dalpe, who knotted the game at two at 16:01 of the middle frame.
Kucherov, however, took advantage of a Yannick Weber hooking call on Johnson with 2.6 seconds left in the middle frame for one last goal before the close of two. Kucherov sent a laser from the right face-off circle, which zoomed past Lack short side for the Bolts fifth power-play goal in six games.
"I thought we really deserved the lead heading into the third period, even if it was with two seconds left," Cooper said. "I thought the third goal was really a turning point for us."
Seven and a half minutes into the third period Killorn added the lone goal for insurance and a 4-2 final in favor of the Bolts. Killorn finished the contest with one goal and one assist.
UP NEXT – The Lightning travel to Calgary immediately following Wednesday's contest as they prepare for a Friday showdown with the Flames. Tampa Bay will then play the Edmonton Oilers Sunday and close out their Western Canada swing next Tuesday versus the Winnipeg Jets.
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