The Tampa Bay Lightning resemble rubberized teflon - they bounce back from just about everything while having very little stick with them.
Coming off two subpar performances at home, Tampa Bay rebounded for an impressive 4-2 victory in Vancouver to start a stretch of seven out of eight games on the road in the next two weeks.
Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist while Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay, which earned just a second victory all-time in 13 games in Vancouver, improving to 2-8-3.
Tampa Bay also ended a two-game winless streak coming out of the Christmas break and improved to 8-2-3 in its last 13 games.
Ben Bishop finished with 28 saves for his 21st victory of the season while allowing two or fewer goals in his seventh consecutive start, which came a few hours after learning he was left off the United States Olympic roster.
“This is a pretty big win for us. We were not happy with our last two games in Tampa,’’ Bishop said. “So to come on the road, in a tough building against a good team and get two points, that’s big for us.’’
The Lightning won a season-best fourth consecutive game on the road and improved to 9-3-2 against Western Conference opponents.
“We just didn’t play a full 60 minutes (in the previous two games), but I thought tonight we answered all night,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “I thought we played a solid road game. We were able to regain the lead and then hang on to it. And if you want to be able to make the playoffs you have to be able to find ways to win on the road and hold leads in the third period.’’
Brad Richardson and Zac Dalpe scored for Vancouver while Eddie Lack finished with 29 saves.
After an uneventful opening 20 minutes, the game went back and forth during a second period in which five goals were scored, including three in a 34-second span.
Vancouver missed a chance to open the scoring when Dale Weise was in alone but Bishop closed the 5-hole just enough to steer the puck wide and Tom Sestito’s rebound chance went wide at 6:45. But the Canucks eventually grabbed the lead when Richardson was open down the left wing side and beat Bishop with a short-side wrist shot at 11:25.
Then the game opened up, first when Filppula took a cross-ice pass from Teddy Purcell, hesitated for an instant to clear a defender before zipping a wrist shot past Lack at 15:27. On the next shift Ondrej Palat won a battle along the wall in his own end, pushed the puck forward to spring a 2-on-1 before feeding Johnson across the crease 20 seconds after Filppula tied the game.
Vancouver pulled even 14 seconds later, on what looked to be an icing call on the Canucks, but as play continued Sestito found Dalpe in front for a tap-in to make it 2-2.
“The second one ... they get the second one on a call that I disagreed with, but I though we deserved the lead to go to the third (period),’’ Cooper said.
Tampa Bay was able to get that lead with a late power play chance. Vancouver had a chance to clear the zone in the dying seconds, but the soft attempt off the boards was kept in play by Radko Gudas, who got the puck down to Matt Carle.
Carle then found Kucherov across the ice and his blistering shot from the left circle got past Lack with 2.6 seconds left in the period.
“I knew we only had a few seconds left, so I wanted to get a shot off, so I just shot it,’’ Kucherov said. “I didn’t really think too much about it.’’
Killorn gave the Lightning a two-goal cushion when he got a stick on Victor Hedman’s shot from the left point, deflecting the puck past a helpless Lack at 7:28 of the third period.
“We had a lot of things that we wanted to work on, and we had a good stretch of games before Christmas but those few days off, we may have been a little too confident coming out of the break,’’ Killorn said. “But we are happy with the way this game went.’’