VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks John Tortorella did not waste much time analyzing his club’s effort Wednesday night.
“It was our worst game of the year,” said Tortorella after the Canucks dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. “We deserved to lose that one. We did.”
Valtteri Filppula scored a goal and added an assist as the Lightning, whose franchise is 21 years old, posted only its second all-time win in Vancouver. Tampa Bay made history of another sort by posting a fourth straight road win for the first time since Jan. 8 to Feb. 7, 2008.
“I just think it was a game that we were out of sorts, out of sync, and it wasn’t just one particular guy,” said Tortorella. “It was the whole team.”
Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn also scored for Tampa Bay.
Brad Richardson and Zac Dalpe replied for the Canucks (23-12-7), who suffered their second consecutive loss. After a scoreless first period, the Lightning overcame a 1-0 deficit to clinch the win in the closing seconds of the second period following a flurry of goals.
“We played a solid road game,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “We fell behind, got the lead and found a way to hold onto it, and it’s what you have to do if you want any chance to make the playoffs: Find ways to win on the road and hold leads.”
Vancouver players, known for stressing the positives at the worst of times, echoed their coach’s sentiments. Daniel Sedin also called the effort Vancouver’s worst of the year.
“Today was too sloppy,” he said. “I don’t think we worked hard enough, to be honest with you. Last game (a shootout loss to Philadelphia) was really different.”
“They should have been up way more than they were after two periods,” added Henrik Sedin. “We were fortunate to only be down one going into the third, and it was far from good enough.
“We have to be sharper. It was turnover after turnover, and that can’t happen.”
Kucherov’s riser, which went in off the skates of Hamhuis as he slid in an attempt to block the shot—with only 2.6 seconds left in the second period—gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead and proved to be the winner.
Tortorella said the goal had a crippling effect on the Canucks.
“I just think we need to get out of that second period 2-2,” he said.
Richardson opened the scoring at 11:25 as he raced in alone and beat Bishop with a quick shot after Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis forced a turnover in the neutral zone with a hip check on Richard Panik.
But the tight game quickly broke open as the clubs produced three goals in only 34 seconds.
Filppula and Johnson scored 20 seconds apart to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. But the Canucks countered only 14 seconds later as Dalpe banged in a goalmouth pass from Dale Weise.
“There was a big play coming back and tying it at 2-2,” said Tortorella. “But, obviously, we didn’t seize that and gain the momentum. We lost it at the end of the period.”
Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop made 28 saves for his 21st win of the season as the Lightning outshot the hosts 33-30. Vancouver’s Eddie Lack recorded 29 saves.
Although the Bolts have been good on the road lately, they entered the game with two straight home losses, to Montreal and the New York Rangers. Suffice to say they succeeded in making amends.
“It’s a tough building to play in against a really good team,” said Bishop, who excelled after being bypassed for the U.S. Olympic team earlier in the day.
“We knew we could play better, those two games after Christmas. We didn’t play our best, so we wanted to come out here and play better.”
The Canucks missed a chance to climb over Los Angeles into fifth place in the tight Western Conference.
The hosts were playing their third game in four nights. But Tortorella refused to use the busy schedule as an excuse, saying his club usually prides itself on a heavy workload.
“I’m not going to go through all of (Vancouver’s problems in the game), because there’s too much to go through,” he said. “It’s in the garbage and we’re gonna start over.”
Notes: Tampa Bay winger Ryan Malone returned after missing 16 games with a fractured ankle.…Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler was named earlier Wednesday to the U.S. Olympic team. He played for the American squad that won a silver medal in 2010.…Lightning centre Steven Stamkos skated Wednesday morning and said he hopes to recover from the broken leg he suffered in November in time to play for Canada at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.…The Lightning played in Vancouver for the first time since Dec. 11, 2010.…Former Canucks defenceman Sami Salo, who sat out his third straight game with an upper-body injury, drew a loud cheer from the crowd when he was shown on the scoreboard screen while sitting in the press box. He made his first visit with the Lightning since signing with Tampa Bay in the summer of 2011.…Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo took part in his first workout with the team, during its morning skate, since he was injured Dec. 22 against Winnipeg. Luongo revealed he suffered a lower-body injury on a shot by Evander Kane and hopes to return to the lineup in the next few days. … The Canucks have re-assigned centre Jeremy Welsh to Utica of the AHL.