TAMPA, Fla. – Posting three points each, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis provided the boost the Tampa Bay Lightning needed on Thursday night. Richards scored the game-winning goal and added two assists, and St. Louis dished out three helpers in a 4-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks.
|Vincent Lecavalier scores between the Canucks Mattias Ohlund, left, Taylor Pyatt and goalie Roberto Luongo during the second period of Tampa Bay's 4-3 win on Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)|
Hosting the Canucks for the first time in more than five years, the Lightning continued a five-game home stand at the St. Pete Times Forum. Vincent Lecavalier, Chris Gratton and Vaclav Prospal added the remaining Tampa Bay goals to claim the only meeting between the clubs this season.
Although the Canucks jumped to an early lead on a goal by defenseman Luc Bourdon, Prospal responded with a power play goal at 7:56 of the first.
Less than three minutes into the opening period Bourdon posted his second goal of the season to give the Canucks a one-goal lead. After Taylor Pyatt fought for possession of the puck he turned it over to Alexandre Burrows. Burrows slid the puck out of the corner to the left faceoff circle where Bourdon slapped the puck past Karri Ramo.
Before tying the game at one Prospal was denied by Roberto Luongo after skating down the left wing to snap a wrist shot. Luongo catch the puck at his chest for the save, but moments later gave up a deflection in front of the net.
After winning an offensive zone draw, Gratton skated to the front of the net to create a screen as the Lightning skated with the man advantage. St. Louis gained control of the puck at the right point and fed Prospal with a pass at the goal line. Firing the puck to the left of Luongo, Prospal’s shot deflected off a Canucks defender and into the open right side of the net.
The score was the 21st of the season for Prospal, giving the Lightning winger goals in consecutive games.
With a little less than six minutes remaining in the contest Tampa Bay looked to build their first lead of the night when Shane O’Brien fired a shot from the point. Nick Tarnasky tipped the shot as it made its way to the net, but Luongo reached down to snag the puck for a glove save.
The Vancouver netminder denied Lecavalier moments later as he skated down the right side and cut to the front of the net. Lecavalier switched to the backhand for a shot but Luongo cradled the attempt.
Responding to the attempts, Pyatt connected for his 13th goal of the season with 3:36 remaining in the period. Converting a pass to the slot by Ryan Kesler, Pyatt barely had time to settle the bouncing puck before putting a shot past Ramo.
Although the Canucks skated into the middle frame with the lead, a pair of goals sent the Lightning into the third period with a 3-2 advantage on the scoreboard. Gratton opened the period with his eighth goal of the season, beating Luongo with a shot through the five-hole.
When a wrist-shot by Craig MacDonald missed the net and ended up in the corner, the Lightning winger jumped into the play to collect his own rebound. MacDonald fed the puck up to Hlavac, who moved the puck up to Gratton. The Tampa Bay center fired a puck from the left faceoff circle for the score at 3:12 of the second.
Moments later Lecavalier skated in on a breakaway against Luongo before adding his 31st goal of the season. Luongo closed his pads on Lecavalier’s attempt to the five-hole, then minutes later made a glove save on a snapped shot by Dan Boyle from the right faceoff circle.
|Brad Lukowich checks the Canucks Alex Burrows along the boards during the second period. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)|
With a little more than three minutes remaining in the period Lecavalier connected to send the Lightning into the final frame with a one-goal lead. After a St. Louis pass through the slot deflected off a Vancouver defender, Lecavalier got his stick on the rolling puck for the score into the open side of the net.
Ramo opened the third period with a glove save, stretching across his crease to deny Canucks captain Markus Naslund on a shot from the left faceoff circle.
Minutes later Richards recorded his second goal in consecutive games to build a two-goal cushion. After Ramo made a same St. Louis collected the puck in front of the Lightning net and made a pass up the ice. Richards skated almost the full length of the rink before slowing down at the right faceoff circle for a slap shot that beat Luongo to the glove side.
The goal, Richards’ 16th of the season, gave the Lightning center his third goal in his previous four games. The game marked the third three-point night of the season for Richards.
Nearly halfway through the period Tampa Bay caught a break when they were saved by the post twice. Slapping the puck through traffic from the top of the slot, Mattias Ohlund’s shot banged off the left post. The rebound deflected off the back of Ramo’s skate and into the post a second time before Kesler moved the puck out of the crease.
Vancouver tried to break down the Tampa Bay lead late in the period, but Ramo stood strong to close the pads on a flipped shot by Canucks leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin. Although Alexander Edler connected on a deflection with 32 second remaining in the game, the Lightning held off the Canucks for the win.
In what turned out to be a fight-filled affair, with four fighting majors handed out to each club, Tampa Bay held Vancouver off the scoreboard through five power plays. The Lightning converted one of two man-advantage opportunities in the contest.
“It was a fun game to be a part of, a lot of emotion,” Richards said. “Both sides were really battling and I think throughout the game we played of lot of different ways and got it done.”
The Lightning out-shot the Canucks 27-26 in the game, and Paul Ranger led all Tampa Bay skaters with five shots on goal. Ramo earned his third win of the season with 23 saves in the contest.
Tampa Bay closes out their five-game home stand on Saturday, February 2 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) as they face off against the Florida Panthers. The game marks the sixth of eight meetings between the clubs, the third of four at the St. Pete Times Forum.
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