TAMPA — Before Tampa Bay Lightning players and staff scattered and hit the road for a five-day break, they made sure to tidy things up at home.
Tampa Bay heads into the All-Star break with a franchise record-tying eight-game home winning streak after knocking off Vancouver 4-1 in front of an announced crowd of 18,517 at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning, who head into the All-Star break sitting first overall in the Eastern Conference, have not lost at home since Dec. 9.
“We have a little swagger at home, which is obviously a good thing, it’s something that we know is important to protect home ice, and we’ve done a good job of that,” center Brian Boyle said. “I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but for me I come out to a building that is full pretty much every night, it’s loud, it’s a great crowd and we have an exciting team. The consistency is impressive to watch, and it’s good to be a part of it.
“When your building is rocking and the crowd is behind you, that’s something you can feed off of. It’s a real thing.”
Alex Killorn scored twice, while Valtteri Filppula had a goal and an assist. Boyle also scored and Victor Hedman had two assists in support of Ben Bishop, who finished with 27 saves for his 24th victory of the season as the Lightning improved to 19-4-1 at home.
“This was a great home stand, great crowds every night, different guys stepping up every night, and it’s a great way to go into a little break,” Bishop said. “And we have confidence here at home.”
That confidence was tested on Tuesday, as the Lightning put themselves into penalty trouble, having to kill off seven Vancouver power-play chances, including a pair of lengthy 5-on-3 opportunities, one early in the second with the game scoreless and another in the third with Tampa Bay up by two goals.
“Their power play is very good, they have some good players on it and they know what they are doing out there,” said Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison, who logged a team high 5:18 of shorthanded time. “We kind of knew how to play those guys, you just have to make sure you have good sticks, and the killers did a pretty good job out there tonight.”
After killing off three consecutive penalties to start the second period — which included 1:14 of a 4-on-3 power play and 46 seconds of a 5-on-3 — Filppula flipped up a pass from Steven Stamkos to beat Ryan Miller at 13:32 of the second period.
“Clearly, the penalty kill saved us tonight, it was outstanding,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
The floodgates then opened up just enough for the Lightning in the third, as Killorn used Filppula as a screen and zipped a wrist shot from the right circle to the top far corner of the net just 11 seconds into the period. That was quickly followed by Boyle one-timing a pass from Brett Connolly that squeezed under the pads of Miller at 4:16 for his ninth goal of the season to make it 3-0. The assist was the first of the season for Connolly and his first in 58 games, dating to March 24, 2012.
The Canucks would get one back from Frank Corrado at 8:09, then had three more power-play chances — including 45 seconds of 5-on-3 time that was shortened by a Radim Vrbata tripping call.
Killorn then finished it off with an empty net goal with 2:26 left to play, sending the Lightning into the break on a record home winning streak.
“We have been able to play our best games at home,” Filppula said. “When things start to go your way, you get confidence, plays seem to go your way, and today was one of those games I feel like we got some chances and we were able to score.”