Steven Stamkos scored goal #499 and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves - including one BIG one in the closing seconds - as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the visiting Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
The captain scored with 14:30 left on the clock to put Tampa Bay up 5-2 to land on the doorstep of history, but couldn't find another tally for the historic milestone of 500.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, they may have spent a little too much time focusing on setting up Stamkos, as they let the Canucks back into the game.
Goals by Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson pulled Vancouver within one but Vasilevskiy made a save with about one second left on Curtis Lazar to preserve the victory for Tampa Bay & prevent the game from going to overtime.
The beginning of this game was ALL Vancouver and The Canucks scored before the Lightning even registered a shot.
Following a point shot from former Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Schenn, Vasilevskiy made an incredible save on Bo Horvat in front, but Conor Garland pounced on the rebound and fired it home to put Vancouver up 1-0 at 4:14 on just their fifth shot of the game.
The Canucks actually had eight shots on goal before the Bolts had their first, but Tampa Bay eventually tied the score just over ten minutes later at 14:37.
On a power play following a tripping call to Vancouver's Ethan Bear, Corey Perry deflected a Mikhail Sergachev wrister past Canucks goalie Collin Delia to tie the score at one apiece.
In an attempt to get the Lightning's game going, Coach Jon Cooper switched Stamkos & Brandon Hagel with the captain moving up to play with Brayden Point & Nikita Kucherov and Hagel slotting in on a line with Anthony Cirelli & Alex Killorn.
And the move paid off.
After a Nick Perbix point shot was blocked in front, Killorn found the loose puck in the slot turned and snapped a shot quickly past Delia to put the Lightning ahead 2-1 just 2:30 into the 2nd period.
Former Lightning forward JT Miller scored a power play goal at 5:43 of the 2nd to tie the game at 2-2 but the switch continued to pay dividends later in the period.
Kucherov scored on a rebound at 15:44 and Hagel scored at 19:29 after a beautiful play by Killorn to retrieve the puck and backhand a pass right on the blade of his stick to give Tampa Bay a two-goal lead heading into the second intermission.
Delia stopped 30 of the 35 shots he saw on the evening as the Canucks lost their third straight game and now have six losses in their last seven.
The Lightning will now embark on a five-game road trip that starts with a contest in St. Louis on Saturday night that has stops in Seattle, Vancouver and Edmonton, and culminates in a matinee affair in Calgary on Saturday the 21st.
Tampa Bay's next home game will be on Tuesday the 24th as they square off with the Minnesota Wild.
- Vancouver - Garland - (Horvat, Schenn) - 4:14
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Perry - (Sergachev, Colton) - 14:37
- Tampa Bay - Killorn - (Perbix, Hagel) - 2:30
- Vancouver - PPG - Miller - (Hughes, Delia) - 5:43
- Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Stamkos, Point) - 15:44
- Tampa Bay - Hagel - (Killorn, Perbix) - 19:29
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Stamkos - (Point, Kucherov) - 5:30
- Vancouver - Hughes - (Pettersson, Kuzmenko) - 14:40
- Vancouver - Pettersson - (Hughes, Miller) - 17:52
- Vancouver - MAJOR - Pederson - (Fighting) - 9:56
- Tampa Bay - MAJOR - Bellemare - (Fighting) - 9:56
- Vancouver - Schenn - (Holding) - 9:56
- Tampa Bay - Bellemare - (Instigator) - 9:56
- Tampa Bay - Bellemare - (10-Minute Misconduct) - 9:56
- Vancouver - Bear - (Tripping) - 12:39
- Tampa Bay - TEAM - (Too Many Men) - 4:44
- Tampa Bay - Paul - (Holding) - 1:21
- Vancouver - Schenn - (High Sticking) - 4:26
- Vancouver - Myers - (Slashing) - 5:01
- Tampa Bay - Killorn - (Tripping) - 17:57
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Saturday night as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues. Puck drop is slated for 8:00pm.
PHOTO : Getty Images