It's amazing what a difference a couple days in 'The Best Place on Earth' - Vancouver's self-proclaimed pre-Olympic motto - can do.
While a loss is never something to get excited about, after the Lightning's debacle in Edmonton earlier this week, this one was definitely a breath of fresh West Coast air.
The Lightning put on a display that very well could have deserved a win against the Canucks Friday but instead ended up with yet another frustrating defeat, 2-1, at GM Place.
Then again, after five straight games where the Bolts allowed 40 or more shots, holding Vancouver to 25 was a step in the right direction.
"I though Wes Walz and Mike Sullivan did a good job of doing video yesterday." said Lightning coach Rick Tocchet. "We really hammered a lot of structure and we made sure the guys understood what we wanted and it made a difference in guys positioning tonight."
Unfortunately for the Lightning, good positioning and hard work don't typically translate into fortuitous bounces. And in the end, the Lightning fell a couple caroms short.
"I think we played hard tonight," said Tocchet. "It was one of those where whoever is going to get the lucky goal will win the game and it kind of happened that way."
Whether it was the winning goal, that saw Vancouver forward Steve Bernier's from-behind-the-net pass glance off Vinny Lecavalier's skate and slip between the wickets of Karri Ramo, or a last-second Tampa Bay shot on net that deflected off Canucks defenseman Sami Salo's skate and missed by inches, it wasn't meant to be for Tampa Bay.
"That's typical of what's been going on," Lightning forward Mark Recchi lamented. "You create your own bounces and we haven't played well enough all year to deserve some of them but tonight we did. You come on the road and play that well you hope you can get better results."
Recchi played a key role in the effort as the newly formulated line of Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Recchi made Tocchet look very astute.
From the start, the trio looked like a well-researched concoction, dangerous every time they stepped onto to the ice. Eventually they broke through as Stamkos continued his hot streak with goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his NHL career.
"It's great to play with [Recchi] and Marty," Stamkos said after notching his fifth goal in six games. "[St. Louis] gets you the puck, he's flying with speed and sometimes you're a little surprised he can get you the puck and that's a chemistry issue I have to make an adjustment to but hopefully I can keep playing with them."
While the new line seemed to gel instantly, in the crease, Ramo continued his solid play with some enormous saves that had GM Place gasping, but after sixty minutes it was still deflating for the Lightning.
"It was a different game this time with not too many shots," said a slumped Ramo. "I saw the puck pretty good there but it wasn't enough."
And that was the story. Not quite enough defense, not quite enough offense and not quite enough bounces. Once again it was the third period that did in the Lightning as they were outshot 10-4 and allowed the winning goal.
Sure their stay in Vancouver may have provided some fresh air, but at the buzzer it was still the same old stale result.
Editor's note: In the original article, Tochett was misquoted in the fifth paragraph. The correct version is in reference to Mike Sullivan.