VANCOUVER – On the night the Vancouver Canucks honoured a hero from their past, Steven Stamkos showed why he’s a big part of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s present and future.
Stamkos scored his second goal of the game 34 seconds into overtime Saturday to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 win over Vancouver. The Lightning victory spoiled the party the Canucks had thrown to retire the jersey of former captain Markus Naslund.
Tampa Bay started the overtime on the power play after Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler was called for high-sticking the Lightning’s Sean Bergenheim late in the third period.
“That was huge,” said Stamkos, who also had an assist to lead the Lighting to their first victory ever in Vancouver.
“We didn’t start this road trip too well. We beat a really good hockey team. That’s a big boost for us.”
The Canucks battled back from a two-goal, third-period deficit and tied the game on defenceman Keith Ballard’s goal with less than six minutes left in regulation.
“We just weren’t good enough through the course of the game,” said Ballard, who collected just his second goal of the season.
“We had a very good third, but we need to find a way in the 40 minutes before that to get a few goals and build a lead instead of coming from two down.”
The Canucks battled back from two goals down in the third to beat Anaheim 5-4 in a shootout Wednesday.
Teddy Purcell also had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay, which had lost its last two games, including Friday’s 4-3 shootout defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.
Brett Clark, on the power play, and Nate Thompson also scored for Tampa Bay, which snapped a streak of nine losses and two ties in Vancouver.
Stamkos now has three goals in his last two games. He started the season red-hot, scoring 21 goals in 22 games but the third-year player then went ice-cold and didn’t have a goal in six contests.
“You’ve just got to keep working hard,” said the 20-year-old, who has 24 goals and 44 points. “You know it’s going to come.
“It’s nice to contribute and get things going. Hopefully we can continue it.”
Henrik and Daniel Sedin both had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, which suffered just it’s second loss in seven games.
Manny Malhotra, on the power play, also scored for the Canucks. Goaltender Cory Schneider had two assists.
Stamkos won the game when he took a pass from Martin St. Louis and one-timed a shot past Schneider.
“That’s been the story of our season, letting teams back in,” said Stamkos. “We were fortunate to get that power play.
“We just wanted to make sure we didn’t give up a short-handed goal at the end. It’s a huge win for us.”
Prior to the game the Canucks retired Naslund’s No. 19.
“Young hockey players in northern Sweden never dream of a night like this,” Naslund said during an emotional 50-minute ceremony.
“I can’t tell you all how special it is to be back home here. This is a special night for me and my family to be united with so many good friends.”
Naslund tapped his heart and waved to the crowd, which chanted “Nassy, Nassy.”
Naslund joins former captains Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl as the only Canucks to have their numbers retired.
Vancouver’s Alex Burrows said it was frustrating not to cap the night with a victory.
“It would have been nice to get the win for Markus,” said Burrows. “At the same time we found a way to get the point.
“We can’t do anything about it now. We have to move forward.”
Tampa Bay goaltender Dan Ellis said it was nothing personal against Naslund.
“It’s never that you want to spoil the party, you just want to win it for your team,” said Ellis, who made 23 saves.
“Our team need to get two points so it wasn’t so much about crashing the party as it was getting a win and salvaging this road trip.”
The Lightning’s record improved to 16-10-4. The Canucks are 15-8-4.
During the game the sellout crowd of 18,860 gave a standing ovation to former Canuck defenceman Mattias Ohlund, who was playing his first game in Vancouver since signing a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay in July 2009.
Stamkos’ first goal wasn’t a classic, but it gave Tampa Bay a 3-1, second-period lead.
The forward parked himself in front of Schneider and was hit on the arm by defenceman Mike Lundin’s shot from the point. The puck deflected past Schneider, who was leaping in the air.
“A good bounce finally,” Stamkos laughed after the game. “We’ll take it.”
Stamkos did make a pretty play to set up Purcell’s goal that made the score 4-2.
First he beat Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa to a puck on the back boards, then neatly stepped out of the way of a hit from the Canuck defenceman. Stamkos then fed a pass to Purcell, who beat Schneider with a hard, low shot.
Despite the two assists, it wasn’t a good night for Schneider, who was making his first start since relieving Roberto Luongo in a 7-1 loss to Chicago on Nov. 20.
“They capitalized on some chances and I couldn’t come up with the big save on a Grade A chance (in overtime) to make the difference,” said Schneider, who stopped 23 shots.
“That’s my job to be ready, to be sharp and come up with the saves when I need too.”
Notes: The Lightning were the third consecutive team that faced the Canucks after playing in Edmonton the previous night. … The Canucks were without forward Mason Raymond (broken thumb) and defenceman Christian Ehrhoff (concussion). … The Canucks play Sunday night in Edmonton.