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Tampa Bay Lightning beats Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in overtime

VANCOUVER — Steven Stamkos scored with his famous one-timer Saturday night. But it didn't come from his usual spot at the left faceoff circle.

Instead the power-play goal was from the high slot with the puck zipping into the top right-hand corner past Canucks G Cory Schneider 34 seconds into overtime to give the Lightning a 5-4 victory at Rogers Arena.

It was Stamkos' second goal of the game, and third in his past two, giving him a team-best 24. He also had an assist for his first multipoint game since Nov. 24. Not bad for a player who had gone six straight games without a goal.

"It's nice," Stamkos said. "You just have to keep working hard and you know it's going to come."

Stamkos also bailed out G Dan Ellis, who allowed a bad goal to Keith Ballard, unscreened and from beyond the right faceoff circle with 5:47 left in the third period to tie the score 4-4.

But there was Stamkos with his league-best 11th power-play goal to end Tampa Bay's western Canada road trip at 1-1-1. The Lightning won in Vancouver for the first time (1-8-1 with two ties).

The game also ended a stretch that has to be called successful in which Tampa Bay (16-10-4) played 15 of 21 games on the road and went 10-8-3, including a respectable 6-7-2 on the road.

"Our plan was to survive," coach Guy Boucher said. "Be around .500 and still be in the running. So, the players have shown they have tremendous character. They buy in but bring more than we expected."

Teddy Purcell had a goal and an assist. Nate Thompson scored, as did Brett Clark on the power play. Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone had two assists each, and grinders such as Dominic Moore and Dana Tyrell were all over the ice.

Defenseman Mattias Ohlund also played well, getting 21:37 of ice time in his first game back in Vancouver since he left after 11 seasons in July 2009 as a free agent to join the Lightning. He also received a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,860 and the scoreboard played a video tribute.

Purcell made it 4-2 with 6:59 left in the second from the slot off Stamkos' pass from behind the goal line. But Vancouver closed to 4-3 with 9:39 left in the third on Henrik Sedin's power-play goal over Ellis' short-side shoulder.

Then came Ballard's goal, part of a period in which Tampa Bay was outshot 11-3 and which Ellis admitted he would like to have back.

"When I look back on it, I had good depth but I was off on my angle," Ellis said. "It was just a misread and maybe a little fatigue. I didn't get a strong enough push into it. No excuse."

Stamkos didn't make excuses either while enduring his scoring drought.

He also embraced Boucher's plan to get him more space on the ice. Teams have been overplaying Stamkos, taking away time and space and his one-timer, especially on the power play.

That is why Stamkos was more in front of the net, from where he scored his first goal. And when he took the shot that won the game off a pass from St. Louis, he was at the blue line at the high slot.

"It was part of the plan and Steven is open to anything, especially if he's going to get more space somewhere," Boucher said. "He wants it so bad."

"It's a lot better," Stamkos said of his confidence. "When you win a game, you help out, you chip in, you get a couple of goals. It was getting a little tough. You just have to keep working hard. It's nice to get back on track. Hopefully, it stays that way."

TRIBUTE: The Canucks before Saturday's game honored Markus Naslund. The left wing played 12 seasons for Vancouver with 346 goals and 756 points in 884 games. But it was how he helped rejuvenate the franchise that Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke will remember.

"A leader who pushed the organization to another level," said Leiweke, the Canucks' executive vice president from 1994-99. "He was great in the community and had as much to do with the (turnaround) as anybody."

VINNY UPDATE: Captain Vinny Lecavalier, out since Nov. 12 because of knuckle surgery, could begin practicing after Christmas. He has been skating on his own, can grip a stick and take easy backhand shots, GM Steve Yzerman said.

ODDS AND ENDS: Lecavalier's charity wine tasting, rescheduled because of his surgery, is 6:30-9:30 p.m. Monday at SideBern's restaurant in Tampa. Tickets are $100; info at (813) 258-2233 or bernsfinewines.com. … LW Johan Harju was scratched … D Matt Smaby played his 100th NHL game. … St. Louis' assist on Stamkos' goal Friday gave him the franchise lead with 420, and he extended that to 422 Saturday.

Lightning 5

Canucks 4

OVERTIME

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in overtime 12/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:49pm]
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