TAMPA, FLA. – Anders Nilsson gave the Vancouver Canucks a chance to steal a hockey game. Young accomplices Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser ran away with the loot.
Pettersson and Boeser, the foundation on which the National Hockey League team is being rebuilt, snatched goals 70 seconds apart halfway through the third period as the Canucks pilfered a 4-1 win against the Stanley Cup-caliber Tampa Bay Lightning.
Petterson deflected in Derrick Pouliot’s wrist shot from the point at 11:07 – the puck appeared to hit the rookie’s belly, except he doesn’t have one – before Boeser overpowered Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilveskiy with a slapshot from Alex Killorn’s turnover at 12:17.
Apart from giving the Canucks a desperately-needed win on their difficult six-game road trip, the goals were also significant for the players: Pettersson extending his career-opening points streak to four games, and Boeser getting his first of the season – his first since breaking a bone in his lower back last March 5.
Many have wondered what might happen if Pettersson and Boeser both start scoring, and the answer was Thursday’s victory.
But the biggest star was Nilsson, who was spectacular early in the game when the Lightning dominated with their speed and skill. Nilsson stopped 33 of 34 shots.
Shots were 9-2 after nine minutes and 17-5 for Tampa in the opening period. But the Lightning was unable to build a 1-0 lead provided them by Brayden Point’s rebound goal.
Jake Virtanen and Markus Granlund added an empty-net goals for the Canucks, who visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday.