The Tampa Bay Lightning were surging going into the holiday break, but they haven’t been quite as sharp since returning.
They’ll look to get back on track while trying to win four straight away from home for the first time in nearly six years as they begin a four-game, seven-day road trip Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Tampa Bay (23-12-4) rode a five-game winning streak into the NHL’s moratorium for the holidays, but the break may have hindered that momentum. It fell 2-1 to Montreal in a shootout Saturday before losing 4-3 to the New York Rangers the following night.
The Lightning had earned at least one point in 10 of their previous 11 games.
"We played one good period and that’s not enough in this league," said captain Martin St. Louis, whose six-game point streak was snapped. "We have to get back to pushing the pace and keeping the puck moving forward. We did that in the third period and gave ourselves a chance. It seems like since the break we’ve lost a little bit of our identity."
Tampa Bay outshot the Rangers 40-29 but also made plenty of mistakes.
"I don’t think I’ve seen us mismanage the puck more," coach Jon Cooper said. "That was painful to watch, to be honest."
The Lightning will look to regroup on the road, where they’ve won three straight following an 0-5-2 stretch away from home. They last won four in a row on the road during a six-game run Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2008, and had gone 0-8-1 with two ties all-time at Vancouver before winning the last matchup there in 2010.
The Canucks (23-11-7) had their six-game home winning streak snapped with Monday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia, but they have earned at least one point in eight straight at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver took the lead with 2:48 remaining in the third period before allowing the tying goal with 47 seconds left off a draw the Canucks couldn’t control.
"I thought we played good to get a point, but it (ticks) me off we don’t get two," coach John Tortorella said. "That’s what keeps you out of playoffs, plays like that, the details, the faceoffs. I thought we played our (butt) off. We created a tremendous amount of scoring chances, but you kick yourself in the teeth for the lack of detail on the faceoff. That aggravates me."
Tom Sestito, Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who have scored fewer than three non-shootout goals in five of their last six.
"This game had no business going into overtime," Hansen said. "We should have closed this out quite earlier. We need to score on our chances. It’s not because we don’t have them. We had quality opportunities in the third and even in overtime to get it done before the shootout."
Rookie Eddie Lack made 24 saves in his second straight start for the injured Roberto Luongo, who remains day to day with a lower-body injury. Lack, 4-0-1 with a 1.36 goals-against average over his last five starts, has never faced Tampa Bay.
Anders Lindback made 25 saves Sunday for the Lightning, though Ben Bishop is likely to be back in net for this game. Bishop, who has never faced Vancouver, is 6-0-2 with a 1.56 GAA over his last eight starts.