The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Thursday’s matchup against the Vancouver Canucks playing in their first game action since Dec. 4.
Despite one of their strongest starts to a game this season, the Lightning found themselves down 2-0 just over nine minutes in and the Canucks never looked back. Jonathan Drouin potted his fourth goal of the season to make it 3-1 in the second period, but the Canucks answered minutes later when Jayson Megna made it a three-goal game again with just over a second left.
The Lightning started the third period with Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes in place of Ben Bishop, but it didn’t matter. The Lightning were unable to convert on two third period power plays and the Canucks made it 5-1 on Jack Skille’s second of the night.
The Lightning took a step in the right direction, outshooting the Canucks 41-30, but the team yielded five goals in a game for the fifth time this season. They’ve also found the net just once in the past two games, as the team continues to struggle offensively and has dropped seven of their last ten contests.
Here’s a closer look at how things played out on Thursday:
At the start of the game, the three-day break seemed to work in the Lightning’s favor as they got out of the gate with a jump in their step. They had a 6-0 lead in shots early on, but the Canucks made their first one count, as Jack Skille took a pass from Erik Gudbranson near center ice and sped into the Canucks’ offensive zone. He muscled past Nikita Kucherov and fired a shot past Ben Bishop to make it 1-0.
The momentum shifted in the Canucks’ favor, as they were able to take a two-goal lead after a Gudbranson slap shot bounced off the back boards behind the Lightning’s goal and was misplayed by Bishop in the crease, sliding against the outside of his glove and into the net.
The Lightning were able to bounce back by creating some offensive opportunities, but were put on the penalty kill when Alex Killorn was called for slashing early in the first. They killed off the penalty, outshooting the Canucks 12-9 in the period, but putting them back on the power play again near the end of the frame.
After killing off the penalty that carried over into the second period, the Lightning had their first power play early in the period when Brendan Gaunce took a hooking penalty. The team’s first power play unit made up of Ondrej Palat, Brian Boyle, Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman, created good offensive opportunities. Point had two shots but was turned away by Ryan Miller and the teams were back to even strength.
Minutes later, however, the Canucks struck again, as Jayson Megna tipped an Alex Biega wrist shot past Bishop to make it 3-0. The Lightning continued to pepper Miller with shots and he was flawless until Jonathan Drouin cut the lead to two goals after converting on a rebound at 11:46 to play.
The Canucks got their third power play of the evening when Tyler Johnson took a hooking penalty at 16:22 of the period. During the penalty kill, Valtteri Filppula was able to get behind the Canucks defense and skated in on a breakaway but was denied by Miller.
With just one second left to play in the period, Megna scored his second of the night to make it 4-1 off a cross-ice pass from Daniel Sedin. It was a back-breaking goal for the Lightning, who lead the Canucks in shots, 30-20, through forty minutes of play.
The Lightning started the third period with a goaltender change, as Andrei Vasilevskiy replaced Bishop after he stopped 16 of 20 shots. They went on their second power play of the night at 8:08 of the period, but were unable to get much going, as the Canucks killed it off.
Nikita Kucherov lost the puck just above the Lightning’s blue line and Brendan Gaunce was able to feed the puck to Skille who potted his second of the night to make it 5-1. As the crowd at Amalie Arena began to file out, the Canucks replaced Miller with Jacob Markstrom who played the last 6:02 of the game. Kucherov finished the game minus-four in 15:28 of ice time.
The Lightning were unable to convert on their third and final power play late in the game and the Canucks took the two points in a 5-1 final.
VAN-Jack Skille (1) assisted by Erik Gudbranson
VAN- Erik Gudbranson (1) Unassisted
VAN-Jayson Megna (2) assisted by Alex Biega and Nikita Tryamkin
TB-Jonathan Drouin (4) assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Luke Witkowski
VAN-Jayson Megna (3) assisted by Daniel Sedin
VAN-Jack Skille (2) assisted by Brendan Gaunce
THW Three Stars
First: Ryan Miller (38 saves)
Second: Jayson Megna (2 goals, +3)
Third: Jack Skille (2 goals, +2)
What’s Up Next
Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning
Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
Amalie Arena – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channel – Fox Sports Sun
Steven is a lawyer and writer with a passion for the game of hockey. He’s the Lead Writer covering the Tampa Bay Lightning with THW. He’s also been press credentialed through the Lightning since 2016. His work has been published at The Fourth Period, LightningInsider.com, Bolt Prospects, The Sports Daily Network, U.S. College Hockey Online and College Hockey News. He’s had radio appearances on TSN 690 in Montreal, Lightning Power Play Live and multiple podcasts to give insight and analysis on the team. He can be reached on Twitter @StevenDiOssi and by email at email@example.com.