Game 59: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in shootout.

Again.

In four games against the Panthers this season, the Lightning have both lost and finished in shootout three of the four times.

Gagne said afterwards, "We knew it was gonna be a tight game."

Whether it was overconfidence, or just exhaustion after a long week, taking a loss to Florida never sits well with the Bolts.

Despite the slow start to the game on Saturday, the Lightning opened the scoring early in the period from Marc-Andre Bergeron's goal from the right circle, set up by Randy Jones and Martin St. Louis.

Steven Stamkos also took a nasty hit from Mike Weaver--Weaver plowed Stamkos into the boards. Boucher talked afterwards about the hit, saying, "That was scary, and we're real lucky on this one."

Read more after the jump.

The Lightning started the second period finishing off a penalty kill, with Dominic Moore and Mattias Ohlund in the penalty box, giving the Panthers a scoring opportunity 24 seconds in, evening the score at 1.

The play picked up in the second period, but the Lightning were unable to score despite 13 shots on goal. Offensive-defenseman Bergeron also took three shots in the second, but again, the Lightning seemed to have a lot of trouble making complete passes and getting anything in net.

The Bolts came in strong in the third, regaining the lead 14 seconds in with Sean Bergenheim's goal, raising the score 2-1. The Bolts held the lead through the bulk of the period, and it looked like they were going to finish it.

But the game changed when Nate Thompson took a boarding call in the last three minutes, and said afterwards that fighting for the puck, he didn't hear the referee's whistle blow. The Panthers capitalized on the opportunity with Michael Santorelli's goal, which tied the score and took the game into overtime.

"It's disappointing for me to take a penalty in the last three minutes, and they score on it. It's a tough one to swallow."

The game finished in shootout, won by Mike Santorelli's goal against Dan Ellis in the first round. For the Bolts, neither Adam Hall, Dominic Moore, or Steve Downie were able to do any damage against Panther's goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who made 34 saves for the night, next to Ellis' 23.

Separate from the loss, tonight was also the first night for Eric Brewer with the Lightning. Brewer, whose last day of travel included Buffalo, St. Louis and Tampa, had a decent first game.

"He's exactly what we're looking for," said Boucher afterwards. "He's very hard to get around and he's quite pushed a lot of people tonight, so exactly what we're looking for."

Brewer talked for a second afterwards about his first night on the 1-3-1:

"It's very different, but I think it'll be good. I think you just gotta get used to kind of cutting the ice in half. I think once you do that and get used to the extra effort, I think you're probably moving more than normal, which is kind of a good thing for me."

It'll be interesting to watch how quickly he is able to adjust in the next couple of weeks.

Up Next: The Tampa Bay Lightning (34-19-6) will play the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday, February 23rd. If you aren't in attendance, be sure to give the game thread a little bit of love! 

Other Recaps:

Panthers vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Panthers vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Panthers vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

Litter Box Cats [SB Nation]

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