That included erasing a two-goal third period deficit for the second straight game, but the Canucks couldn’t complete the comeback against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at Rogers Arena, in the finale of a three-game homestand, as Steven Stamkos scored the game-winner on the power play 34 seconds into overtime to give the Bolts a 5-4 win.
Daniel Sedin, Manny Malhotra, Henrik Sedin and Keith Ballard scored for Vancouver, while Tampa got offence from Brett Clark, Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson and Stamkos, who finished the night with two goals and an assist.
Cory Schneider got his first start since a 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on November 15 and fifth start overall; Schneider made 18 saves, including 13 in the first period. Over the final 40 minutes and change, the Lightning beat Schneider for four goals on nine shots.
“They cashed on their opportunities and I couldn't make that big save when I needed to,” said Schneider, who remains undefeated in regulation at 3-0-2 in seven appearances.
“A bit of a weird game, they came out and had a lot of shots in the first and I felt pretty good, then a tough start to the second and from there on out they didn’t really get many opportunities, but I’ve got to come up with a save there in the second to try to keep it to one and keep us close.
“We did a great job battling back to get a point, but I wish I could have been more of a difference maker and help us get the win.”
Where Schneider did make a difference was on the scoresheet as the goaltender recorded a pair of power play assists, the first on Malhotra’s second period strike, the second helping Henrik Sedin score midway through the third.
Schneider now has three assists this season, moving him into a tie with Ballard for 17th in team scoring.
“I’m trying to help out any way I can and puck handling is something that Roland Melanson and I have been working on a lot,” said Schneider. “When you get it up the ice quick to these guys, they can make stuff happen. All the credit goes to them, I’m just trying to quick up it and catch their team on a change and fortunately we scored two goals off it.”
The last NHL goalie to record two assists in a game was Nikolai Khabibulin, then a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, on November 28, 2007, also, coincidentally, against the Lightning.
And then there were three.
During a special pre-game tribute to Markus Naslund, Vancouver’s all-time leading scorer, Naslund’s #19 was raised to the rafters where it will hang alongside Stan Smyl’s #12 and Trevor Linden’s #16.
The 55-minute on-ice ceremony, which was attended by Mattias Ohlund, Brendan Morrison, Dan Cloutier, Brian Burke, Smyl, Linden and Pat Quinn, the man responsible for bringing Naslund to Vancouver from Pittsburgh in 1996, was an emotional affair, but somehow the man of the hour to keep it together.
“Walking out and getting that response right away, it was pretty powerful,” said Naslund, in response to the rousing standing ovation the sellout crowd at Rogers Arena treated him to.
“I expected it to be a memorable night, but this is way beyond what I could even expect.
“I have many fond memories of my time here, but this is topping it all. To receive first of all this honour and then to get the response that I did, it makes for an incredible special evening.”
One of the highlights of the ceremony was a recorded message from former West Coast Express member Todd Bertuzzi, in which the rugged forward toasted Naslund with a beer before donning a #19 Naslund Canucks jersey.
Naslund, who was joined on the ice by his wife Lotta, children Rebecca, Isabella, and Alex, and his parents, was presented with numerous gifts from the organiation and the team, including tickets to the opening ceremony of the London 2010 Olympic Games.
The Canucks have never lost a home game in regulation against the Lightning going 9-0-3; Daniel Sedin leads the NHL having scored first for the Canucks 11 times this season, including six times to open the scoring for both teams; Mason Raymond and Christian Ehrhoff both missed Saturday’s game, Raymond with a broken thumb, Ehrhoff with a slight concussion.