Tonight, it was a battle of two red-hot teams as the Canucks faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning to kick off the first road trip of 2020. The Canucks have been winning largely because of exceptional goaltending from all-star Jacob Markstrom, who has won six straight starts (Thatcher Demko started the final game of 2019). The Lightning will be a tough match-up with their PK in the top ten when it comes to killing penalties (81.8% efficiency rate). The Canucks rank 16th in that category (81% efficiency rate). Both teams have top five PP units (Lightning are 2nd in the NHL and the Canucks are 4th in the NHL). This one could be a high-scoring affair with both teams having players that can hit the net (JT Miller (who makes his return to Tampa Bay for the first time since being acquired in a draft weekend trade last June), Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and Quinn Hughes for the Canucks). Vancouver needs to be wary of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn, the top five scorers on the Lightning. The Canucks went with the same lineup as Saturday and the same 18 skaters as the past five games. Could the Canucks make it eight wins in a row and nab their first road win of 2020? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Canucks opened the scoring with 62 seconds left in the opening period as Brock Boeser stole the puck at the Lightning blueline and found Elias Pettersson who deked out Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for one of the prettiest goals of the year
- The Lightning tied the game almost four and a half minutes into the 2nd period after a turnover off Alex Edler at the Canucks blueline. Tyler Johnson ripped a shot that went up and over Jacob Markstrom
- Almost six minutes later, Steven Stamkos snapped one over the glove of Markstrom on a set play for a PP marker
- Almost four minutes later, Loui Eriksson was johnny on the spot to redirect the puck past Vasilevskiy
- Just over a minute later, Alex Killorn beat out Tyler Myers on a breakaway and beat Markstrom five-hole
- Two minutes later, Carter Verhaeghe ripped a one-timer by Markstrom
- Thirty-one seconds later, Nikita Kucherov fired a shot off the faceoff that Markstrom partially stopped but had it trickle in
- Twenty-five seconds later, Erik Coburn hammered a slapper that found the back of the net through a crowd. Markstrom was pulled from the game after this goal
- The Lightning added a goal just over four and a half minutes into the 3rd period as Brayden Point grabbed his own rebound and snapped it past Thatcher Demko
- Just over 8 minutes later, Verhaeghe snapped it past Demko for a shorthanded marker
- Almost five and a half minutes later, Verhaeghe completed his first career hat trick blasting a one-timer past Demko for a PP marker
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 15/21 shots. Thatcher Demko stopped 13/16 shots
- Final score: Lightning 9 Canucks 2
- The Canucks seven game winning streak ended on a horrible 2nd period that saw Vancouver allow 6 goals. The Lightning added three more in the final period, but the game was essentially over after the middle frame. Jacob Markstrom was not at his best, allowing a couple of goals he’ll want back, including the Lightning’s fifth goal that he was unable to squeeze completely and the Lightning’s second goal where Stamkos beat Marky cleanly off a faceoff with no screen. Granted the defense wasn’t great tonight and, as captain Bo Horvat said bluntly after the game, hung the goalies out to dry. It’s been a pattern in this win streak where the Canucks have been allowing grade A scoring chances. The difference tonight is the goaltenders were unable to bail out the defenders. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned and the Canucks bounce back next game.
- It was the first game that the Canucks lost and Loui Eriksson scored.
- Jake Virtanen was the only Canuck not to finish with a negative rating. He was even for the game
- The Canucks won 53% of the faceoffs, led by Tanner Pearson, who won every draw he took. Bo Horvat (61% success rate), Jay Beagle (60% success rate), and JT Miller (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
- The Canucks had 18 hits, led by Tyler Motte, who banged out 4 hits tonight
- The Canucks blocked 10 shots, led by Oscar Fantenberg and Chris Tanev, who both blocked a pair of shots
- Up next, the Canucks head to Florida to take on the Panthers. Look for Markstrom to get the start against his former team. The Panthers are currently 3rd in the Eastern conference wild card race, a point back of the Flyers.