TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 17: Center Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning battles defenseman Mike Weaver #43 of the Florida Panthers for the puck October 17, 2011 at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
On a night when Lightning fans opened a bunch of shiny new presents (A pipe organ! An outdoor, rooftop party deck! Actual lightning-producing Tesla coils...oops, not so fast on that one), the home-opening victory they really wanted slipped away amid sloppy play and a deluge of penalties.
"We lost this game on the penalty kill. We took way too many penalties." -- Lightning head coach Guy Boucher
The Panthers tallied five of their seven goals on power plays as the Lightning racked up a whopping 33 minutes on 11 penalties. Steven Weiss's goal at 15:28 of the third period was the first and only even-strength goal the Panthers have scored against the Lightning in two meetings this season. Former Bolt Sean Bergenheim also tallied a shorthanded breakaway goal in the second period.The Lightning held the lead briefly in the first period, thanks to goals by Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman. After the Panthers tied the game and went ahead on goals by Weiss and Kris Versteeg, the Lightning had their hands full fighting off power plays but managed to stay close on a goal by Vincent Lecavalier late in the second.
Steven Stamkosbrought the Bolts back to within one at 5-4 when he scored at 10:53 in the third, reigniting a frustrated sellout home crowd of 19,204, but the team couldn't close the gap.
The loss, the Lightning's fifth in a row and third in regulation so far this season, drops them to 1-3-2. They haven't won since beating Carolina in the first game of the year.
"It was very embarrassing. You don't want to do that to the fans who paid their hard-earned money to purchase tickets and come see the new rink while everything looks great. For us to come out like that was not acceptable...We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and pick it up because obviously we weren't good enough. -- Ryan Malone
"We were undisciplined tonight. Their power play really beat us tonight and this is our fifth loss in a row. We took too many penalties. It's a big disappointment. -- Steven Stamkos
The next game is Thursday, October 20th, against the New York Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum. The two teams played last Thursday in New York with the Islanders beating the Lightning 5-1.
- The Lightning have given up the first goal in five of the six games they've played so far this season.
- With an assist on Purcell's goal, Marc-Andre Bergeron extended his point streak to three games, recording two goals and five assists.
- Purcell's goal was the first the Panthers penalty killing unit had given up this season. They had successfully killed off nine consecutive opposing power plays prior to tonight's game.
- The Lightning's 21 penalty minutes in the first tied the mark for most tallied in a period this season, equalling the 21 they accumulated in the second period last Saturday, also against the Panthers.
- This was the 100th regular season meeting between the two teams. With the loss, the Lightning are 35-45-10-10 in the series.
- The much-anticipated debut of two ceiling-mounted Tesla coils that will produce actual bolts of "lightning" when the Bolts score goals will have to wait at least another game as they were not ready for use in time for tonight.
- 16-year-old high school student Ben Carpenter was the first person recognized as a "Lightning Community Hero". Carpenter, suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, with which he was diagnosed as a child, established his own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to help others in need. His program, Ben’s Mends, restores old, damaged books to mint condition, and then donates them to worthy charitable organizations within the community including assisted living facilities, homeless shelters and children’s homes. He received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, and will contribute the money to his charity of choice, Junior Achievement.