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Preview: Canucks at Lightning
Gracenote
Oct 10, 2018

Andrei Vasilevskiy looked as dominant in net during the season opener as he was through most of 2017-18, and looks to match that effort when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the improving Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Vasilevskiy turned aside 42 of 43 shots and both shootout attempts as the Lightning edged Florida 2-1 on Saturday before the long wait for game two of the campaign.

“We certainly have to tip our cap to (Vasilevskiy) and pat him on the back a few times,” Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh told reporters. “He was pretty incredible to have that focus and step up in game one. He was definitely the main reason we got the two points.” Vasilevskiy, a Vezina Trophy finalist after tying for the league lead with 42 wins last season, allowed four goals on 62 shots in a pair of victories over the Canucks in 2017-18. Vancouver started the season with a home victory over Calgary on Oct. 3, but has coughed up 12 goals in two straight losses after a 5-3 setback at Carolina on Tuesday in the second contest of a six-game road trip. Elias Pettersson, a 19-year-old rookie center, is off to a rousing start for the Canucks while scoring three times and setting up three others in the first three games - averaging only 15 minutes of ice time.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet 360 (Vancouver), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)

ABOUT THE CANUCKS (1-2-0): Calder Trophy finalist Brock Boeser, who had 29 goals in 62 games last season, is off to a slow start with one assist and three shots with a minus-7 rating in the first three contests. “I know he’s pressing; he wants to score a goal,” Vancouver coach Travis Green told Sportsnet. “I just think. … he’s not sharp right now. He’s a smart kid, though. He’s got to stay with what works. He can’t just start cheating.” Defenseman Alexander Edler registered a pair of assists in each of the last two games while forward Sven Baertschi notched his first three points (two goals) of the season Tuesday.

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (1-0-0): Forward Tyler Johnson (shoulder) is expected to be back in the lineup after missing the season opener and has been skating with center Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde at practice this week. Coach Jon Cooper is keeping Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and rookie Mathieu Joseph together for now after the trio produced a strong effort with six shots combined against the Panthers and the only goal - Cirelli’s short-handed tally. “Cirelli might have been one of the best players on the ice for us,” Cooper told reporters. “You work that (hard) and do so many things right, you’re eventually going to get the chance and he did.”

OVERTIME

1. Vancouver G Jacob Markstrom has an .883 save percentage in the first three games but backup G Anders Nilsson could get the start Thursday.

2. McDonagh led the Lightning with five shots and an assist in the opener while RW Nikita Kucherov was held without shot, but ended the game with a shootout goal.

3. Canucks C Bo Horvat recorded a pair of goals and an assist in the early going, but has matched Boeser with a team-worst minus-7 rating.

PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Canucks 2
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