You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 3-1 loss in Tampa Bay.
…Martin St. Louis’ attempted pass to Steven Stamkos on a 2-on-1 deflected off Christian Ehrhoff’s skate and over the goal line to give Tampa Bay at 3-1 lead over Vancouver en route to a win by the same score.
For the seventh time in as many games the Canucks let the opposition get the party started by scoring the opening goal, on this night it was Stamkos doing the damage just eight minutes in on the power play.
The Canucks outshot the Lightning 13-8 in the first and 14-5 in the second before Ryan Kesler scored the lone Vancouver goal on the team's 15th shot, a wrister on the power play from just inside the blueline with seven seconds left in the middle frame.
A seemingly rejuvenated Canucks team looked to put another solid 20 minutes on the ice in the third period, but instead they gave up a pair of goals, both to St. Louis; his first came on a shorthanded 2-on-1 after a smooth toe drag around Ehrhoff.
Vancouver more than doubled Tampa Bay in shots at 40-19, but it was the game’s first star, netminder Antero Nittymaki, playing the role of hot goalie as he handed the Canucks their third loss in four games, while extending the Lightning’s win streak to four.
With the exception of his minus-2 rating, Ryan Kesler put up a solid stat line from end to end against Tampa Bay.
In addition to scoring his team’s lone goal with a precision shot where he used Steve Bernier as a screen in front of Nittymaki, Kesler had four shots, four takeaways, a hit and a blocked shot, while going 10-for-21 on faceoffs during 20:56 of ice time.
Kesler was his usual bullish self, but linemates Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond weren’t enough of a compliment to help the Canucks offensively. They combined for a minus-3 night with four shots.
Kesler now has 15 goals and 51 points on the year, putting him eight back of the career-high 59 he established a season ago.
Although Tampa Bay’s insurance goal ricocheted in off Christian Ehrhoff’s boot, he played a solid overall game.
The blueliner put in a workhorse effort with 26:48 of ice time, including 4:24 shorthanded and 3:12 on the power play. He threw three shots on goal and finished with one assist, his 18th of the season, with one hit and one takeaway.
Honourable mention to Roberto Luongo, who stopped 16 shots in a losing cause, including a did-you-just-see-that-glove-save-where-he-grabbed-the-puck-on-the-goal-line-wow-what-a-stop on Vincent LeCavalier in the third period.
Forty isn’t a welcome birthday and according to the stats, it isn’t a pleasant number for Vancouver’s shot total.
The Canucks hit the 40-shot plateau for the fifth time this season and fourth on the road, but fell to 0-5-0 those games.
Vancouver’s overall shot total in those five games is 212, yet the Canucks have found the back of the net only 10 times, giving them a shot-to-goal percentage of 4.71.
Ryan Kesler on the play of Antero Nittymaki and getting caught in a third period lightning storm:
”We were throwing a lot of pucks, just not getting the traffic we wanted. We came pretty close in that first period but didn’t have a chance to solve him, give credit to him, he played pretty well tonight.
”They came out strong and they got that shorthanded goal on us and you never want to give up a shorthanded goal. They just kept coming and we tried to push back and that third goal kind of took the wind out of our sails. We’ve got to start finding a way to win these games on the road and it starts with effort and execution.”
The Canucks are now on the backend of their eight-game pre-Olympic road trip with games six and seven playing out Thursday and Friday in Florida and Columbus.
Vancouver will head home following a matinee game in Minnesota on Sunday.