Tampa Bay Lightning beats Vancouver Canucks 3-1

TAMPA — Let's get the good stuff out of the way first.

The Lightning beat the Canucks 3-1 Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum, the team's fourth straight win and its longest streak since a five-gamer in November 2007.

It is on a 7-1-1 roll overall and 10-1-2 at home. At 26-21-11, it is five games over .500 for the first time this season, and with 63 points is sixth in the East.

"We're winning games," coach Rick Tocchet said. "You have to be happy about that."

But Tampa Bay should be wary.

Consider that Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, with eight goals each, have 16 of Tampa Bay's 22 during its nine-game surge. And goaltender Antero Niittymaki is 7-0-1 in his past eight starts with a 1.09 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.

As good as those contributions are, it is an equation Tocchet acknowledged is unsustainable.

"We're putting the finger in the dike right now," he said. "Hopefully, we get some other people scoring before the dam bursts."

In the meantime, it is, in a sense, a three-man game.

St. Louis had two goals against Vancouver, a short-handed 1-1 tiebreaker 2:52 into the third period and the insurance goal, his 20th of the season, with 4:20 left.

Stamkos' first-period tally was his team-best 33rd and 14th on the power play, tied for the league lead. Niittymaki was brilliant with 39 saves as Tampa Bay, fighting serious puck-possession issues, was outshot 40-19.

"It always goes when some guys are hot," Niittymaki said. "I don't see a team that has 20 players hot at one time."

To be fair, others are getting chances.

Vinny Lecavalier, who with two goals is the only other Lightning player with more than one in the past nine games, was stopped point-blank by a Roberto Luongo lunging glove save. And Alex Tanguay hit a post instead of an open net.

Compare that with Stamkos, who scored in the first period with a short-side wrist shot through a microscopic opening over Luongo's shoulder, and St. Louis, who hustled to track down a loose puck in the neutral zone and scored five-hole for the winner as he drove two-on-two with Stamkos.

"We're finding the back of the net, but some guys are getting chances, and it's just a matter of time before they come through," said St. Louis, who, with an assist, had a three-point game. "This is not all about me and Stammer having success. This is about a team game. We're getting quality minutes from everybody. Everybody is contributing."

Such as the line of center Nate Thompson, Ryan Malone and Jeff Halpern, which along with defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Mike Lundin held the high-powered line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows to zero points and six shots.

"That five-man unit was good against those guys," Tocchet said. "You have to give them a lot of credit."

Okay, so it's not a three-man game. It just feels like it.

Lightning 1 0 2 3
Canucks 0 1 0 1
Lightning 1 0 2 3
Canucks 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 33 (St. Louis, Malone), 8:00 (pp). PenaltiesRypien, Van, major (fighting), 3:00; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 3:00; Edler, Van (holding), 6:42; Hedman, TB (holding), 9:05; Meszaros, TB (slashing), 10:40.

Second Period2, Vancouver, Kesler 15 (Ehrhoff), 19:53 (pp). PenaltiesLukowich, Van (interference), 1:42; Bernier, Van (hooking), 7:18; O'Brien, Van (interference), 11:22; Ohlund, TB (high-sticking), 19:46.

Third Period3, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 19, 2:52 (sh). 4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 20 (Stamkos, Downie), 15:40. PenaltiesDownie, TB (high-sticking), 1:30; Malone, TB (tripping), 6:43; Rome, Van (high-sticking), 16:07. Shots on GoalVancouver 13-15-12—40. Tampa Bay 8-5-6—19. Power-play opportunitiesVancouver 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 5. GoaliesVancouver, Luongo 30-16-2 (19 shots-16 saves). Tampa Bay, Niittymaki 16-9-5 (40-39). A14,226 (19,758). T2:26. Referees—Dan Marouelli, Steve Kozari. LinesmenDerek Amell, Andy McElman.

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Vancouver Canucks 3-1 02/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 10:13am]

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