TAMPA BAY – After the Tampa Bay Lightning struggled on the first leg of their six-game homestand, Monday's 4-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks made for a strong end, as the Bolts have now picked up points in five straight.
"It doesn't matter how we get there," head coach Jon Cooper said. "We just need the points."
"It wasn't the way we wanted to start the homestand, but we finished strong," captain Steven Stamkos said. "That's what you want to do heading into a three-game road trip, it helps gain confidence."
Though the Lightning found themselves clinging to a one-goal lead late, the Bolts feel like the mistakes they made are easy fixes as they continue on.
"Sometimes it's work smarter not harder," Cooper said.
Sami Salo started the movement with his shot from the blue line on the power play. The Canucks managed to block Salo's shot causing the puck to head to the right corner of Vancouver's zone. Ryan Callahan raced for the puck and chipped it to Ondrej Palat, who sent a crisp pass to Steven Stamkos. Alone on in front of the net, Stamkos hammered it home for a 1-0 lead at 16:54 of the first.
"That was huge," Stamkos said. "Anytime you can get on the board early that just gives you more confidence. On the power play we got some good lucks today, so we'll build on that. We're getting more comfortable each game we're out there."
With the assist on the goal, Palat also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, five assists).
The Lightning jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead by the end of 40 minutes of play which happened to come off of two glaring errors by Vancouver defender Ryan Stanton. The first of the pair of goals occurred when Stanton layed out to block Palat's shot, but instead of stopping the puck it caromed off of his body and past an unexpecting Eddie Lack. Then with nine seconds left in the middle frame, Valtteri Filppula looked to send a pass to Matt Carle on Lack's glove side, but the puck went in off of Stanton's skate for a three-goal lead.
"A lot of those goals that cost us in other games went in for us tonight," Cooper said. "I always believe if you work your way out of those things you'll get breaks and we got those tonight."
The marker put Filppula one goal shy of tying his career high of 23 set during the 2011-12 season. It was also his 300th career point, as he extended his point streak to five games (two goals, six assists).
Four different goals were exchanged in the final period of play, with three coming from the Canucks to bring them within striking distance.
After Tom Pyatt was in the box for goaltender interference, Alexandre Burrows scored a power-play goal eight seconds later for a 3-1 score at 5:44. As soon as Pyatt's penalty expired he redeem himself though by re-directing momentum in the Lightning's favor. J.T. Brown back-handed a feed to Pyatt who scored on the wrister three minutes later.
"We tried to stay solid in the third, we didn't want to change much," Stamkos said.
Vancouver hung in and scored back-to-back goals to come within one. Burrows scored his second of the game with 8:16 left. Three and a half minutes later a Lightning giveaway in the Canucks' zone led to a shorthanded goal by Jannik Hansen with 4:44 remaining. Tampa Bay, however, held on for their third straight win.
"There is still some things we need to work on," Stamkos said. "But the way we scored I think we can correct those and we're just happy with the win."
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay shifts focus to the road as five of their next seven contests come away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. First the Lightning head on a three-game road trip with games against two Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, before going to Pittsburgh to face one of the Eastern Conference's best, the Pittsburgh Penguins.