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Lightning finish homestand with a win

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Before Monday's game, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said a win would be the difference between a good six-game homestand and a great one.

The Lightning took a 3-0 lead into the final period Monday and held on for a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Tampa Bay earned its third consecutive win to finish the homestand 3-1-2, scoring at least three goals in each of the last five games.

"Great homestand," Cooper reiterated after the win. "A little loose in the third, but we've gotten points in five straight games at a time when we really need them. Hopefully it'll give us some good momentum for us going on the road."

Tampa Bay (37-24-7) literally had the bounces go its way Monday, twice collecting goals that went in off Canucks defenseman Ryan Stanton. The first, which gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead with 13:06 left in the second period, was credited to left winger Ondrej Palat, whose shot from the left side slid underneath Stanton as he went down in front of the goal, redirecting it past goalie Eddie Lack.

With just eight seconds left in the period, Tampa Bay center Valtteri Filppula sent a shot wide across the net that went past Lack and caromed into the goal off Stanton's back skate for a 3-0 lead.

"A lot of those goals that have gone in against us that have cost us games went in for us tonight," Cooper said. "I always believe you work your way out of these things and you'll get those breaks. We got them tonight."

Tampa Bay, hoping to build off a 3-0 win Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, jumped out to a 1-0 lead with 2:04 left in the opening period when center Steven Stamkos got his 16th goal of the season on a power play. Palat sent a crossing pass that Stamkos flicked home.

"We're battling like crazy out there, playing for each other," center Henrik Sedin said. "We have a lot of injuries, but we're still battling, showing we're a team and we're playing for each other. If we keep doing that, good things are going to happen."

Vancouver (31-30-10) spoiled the shutout on left wing Alexandre Burrows' goal with 14:16 left in the third, but the Lightning answered three minutes later. Center Tom Pyatt, getting a nice drop pass from right wing J.T. Brown, fired a shot past Lack's shoulder for a 4-1 lead.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, two nights after his fifth shutout of the season, was in control again early, stopping all 15 shots he faced in the first two periods.

As the Lightning did Thursday against Florida, however, they made mistakes with a three-goal lead late. Vancouver cut the margin to 4-2 on Burrows' second of the night with 8:15 left, then pulled within one on a short-handed goal by right winger Jannik Hansen on a rebound after a breakaway with 4:44 left.

"Points are slipping through our fingers, and we know where we stand," Burrows said after the game, which left the Canucks three points behind Phoenix and Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with the Coyotes playing Los Angeles later Monday. "At the same time, we have to keep our heads up. We have to find ways to win these games."

Bishop finished with 25 saves, while Lack stopped 26 shots.

NOTES: The Lightning celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 2004 Stanley Cup championship, a tribute carefully timed to allow the presence of Canucks coach John Tortorella, who was Tampa Bay's coach in its title run. ... ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale was honored during the game as the Lightning's "Community Hero" for his charity efforts, especially with the V Foundation for Cancer Research. He received a $50,000 donation from the team. ... Vancouver came in with 14 goals in its last four games, a significant bump from scoring 11 goals in the previous 10 games. More impressively, the 14 goals were scored by nine different players. ... The Lightning play their next three games on the road, starting Wednesday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. Vancouver returns home for two, starting with a visit by the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. ... The teams meet only twice this season, with the Lightning winning 4-2 at Vancouver on opening night.
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