TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – In the first home game of 2020, the Lightning returned home with a seven-game win streak under their belt and prepped to host the Vancouver Canucks in hopes to extend their streak. The first period opened up in a mild manner, with both teams trying to find their footing and both goalies making significant saves. It wasn’t until under the final two minutes of the first period that a goal was finally scored. Getting on the board first was Vancouver, thanks to Elias Pettersson.
Heading into the first intermission down 1-0 to the Canucks, the Bolts must have had a motivating pep talk. The second period opened up and in less than five minutes, Hedman found Palat, Palat found Johnson and Johnson found the net for his 10th goal of the season. Tying up the game fueled the Lightning, and after another five minutes of play in the second period Point set up Stamkos to score his 17th goal of the season. Vancouver’s Eriksson tied up the game in response to Stamkos’s goal, but it was Alex Killorn’s speedy unassisted goal that ignited the Bolts to floor the gas. The Lightning solidified three goals in under a minute. Verhaeghe took the Bolts to four goals, then Kucherov knocked the score up to 5-2, and with 1:58 left in the second period, Cernak with a slap shot closed the period with a 6-2 lead.
Third period meant three more goals for the Lighting. After the attack the Lightning led against the Canucks goalie in the second, it was clear they got in his head. The Bolts defense and exemplary goalie Vasilevskiy stepped up, holding the Canucks off from any scoring opportunities, creating a lot of frustration for Vancouver, which showed. Brayden Point relentlessly shooting on goal scored top shelf 4:37 into the third period and then it turned into the Verhaeghe show as Carter Verhaeghe got two more goals for the Lightning projecting the score to a 9-2 lead and gifting the audience with his first NHL hat trick. The fans began tossing their hats into the rink in celebration of Verhaeghe’s successful night and career milestone.
The playoff conversation is beginning to sing a different tune for Tampa Bay. Now with an eight-game winning streak the Lightning set their eyes and intentions to make the streak nine as they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7pm Thursday evening.
Kasey Hudson is the Sports Associate Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org