Game 4: Tampa Bay Lightning versus Florida Panthers

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis celebrate another score during the Lightning's 7-3 win over Florida Friday night - Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

Steven Stamkos leads the way, netting a hat trick, as the Tampa Bay Lightning won their third straight game, beating the Florida Panthers 7-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning welcomed fans back to the regular season with a dominating 7-2 win over the Florida Panthers in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 for their home opener at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday night.

"It was good. It's always good to come home. The crowd was great again tonight. Hopefully, it's like that every night." - Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop

The Lightning got on the board first just as a power play expired at the 8:13 mark when Martin St. Louis scored on assists from Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell. This was the first time the Lightning had held a league in regulation this season.

"It was just good that they knew what to do with it" - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, on playing with the lead for the first time this season

They doubled that lead at 13:54, when Stamkos scored shorthanded just before the penalty expired on assists from St. Louis and Victor Hedman.

The 2-0 score held through the end of the first period.

At :59 of the second, a scramble in front of the Lightning net found Brad Boyes getting the puck past Bolts netminder Ben Bishop. Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann offered assistance.

The Lightning increased the margin back to two at 11:39 on Stamkos second goal of the night, this time with Matt Carle and Ryan Malone providing the helpers.

They stretched the lead to three just over four minutes later when Alex Killorn and Bishop fed Ondrej Palat at15:51.

At the end of the second period, the Lightning were up 4-1.

The lead was halved when Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau somehow slipped between defenders on a mini-breakaway at 3:48. He was assisted by Scott Gomez and Kris Versteeg. It was the last goal allowed by Bishop, making his third consecutive start. He would eventually stop 19 of the 21 shots he faced.

Less than three minutes later, Valtteri Filppula scored a power play goal at 6:38 on assists from Carle and Killorn

He would score again at 9:14, thanks to help from Purcell and Sami Salo.

At that point, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen decided that his starting goalie Jacob Markstrom had seen enough and replaced him with Scott Clemmensen. Markstrom surrendered six goals on 24 shots.

At 12:25, Stamkos completed the hat trick, the sixth of his career, scoring a power play goal on assists from Salo and Purcell. On the night, the Lightning scored twice out of five opportunities with the man advantage while giving up one goal in penalty kill situations while also registering a shorthanded goal.

"We got off to a decent start but we didn't respond well to pressure when they pressured our players." - Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen

The Lightning have now won three in a row and will be in action again on Saturday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Game notes:

  • The Lightning are now 11-7-3 all-time in home openers, including three of the last four. However, this was the first time ever beating the Panthers in a home opener, improving their record to 1-2-0 against Florida.
  • The Lightning went 3-1-1 against Florida last season but collected only one of those wins at home.
  • With a goal and an assist, Martin St. Louis passed Bobby Orr for 94th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list. He now has 917 points in his career.
  • While this was Stamkos' sixth career hat trick, it's the first time in his career that he scored even-strength, shorthanded and on the power play in one game.
  • This was the start of Tampa Bay's longest homestand this season (seven games). They don't hit the road again until a visit to the Panthers on October 27.
  • Filppula has recorded points in three of the four games he's played so far this season.
  • Purcell's three assists tied his career high.
  • Nate Thompson won 12 of 13 faceoffs (92%).
  • Purcell and St. Louis both extended points-scored streaks to three games.
  • St. Louis' goal in the first gave the Lightning their first lead in 188:13 of regulation time this season.
  • Stamkos' shorthanded goal in the first was the first shortie registered by the Lightning since Ryan Malone's on March 26, 2012 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Bishop's assist in the second was his first NHL point.
  • The last time the Lightning scored seven goals in a home opener was the team's inaugural game at Expo Hall on October 7, 1992, a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
  • The Lightning honored Mark Lalli as the first Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Lalli, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Quantum Leap Farms (www.quantumleapfarm.org). Lalli is a true American hero. He was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, working as a crew chief of a Blackhawk helicopter, flying many missions in Iraq before sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury resulting in paralysis. His helicopter crashed, killing six of 11 crew members. His journey since the crash is one of finding meaning and purpose in his life, not in spite of his losses, but because of them. After the crash, Lalli was besieged by survivor's guilt, longing for mobility and independence. While he coped with life in a wheelchair, he attended many Wounded Warrior events and began to draw from his own experiences to inspire and enhance the lives of everyone he met, especially fellow wounded vets. Lalli currently serves as the staff photographer at Quantum Leap Farms, using his talent to capture beautiful and moving images of events hosted in partnership with local charity organizations. His work appears in nearly all promotional material that the farm uses and their partners produce to raise awareness of collaborative efforts. The founder of Quantum Leap Farms, Dr. Edie Dopking, is also a former Community Hero herself from the 2012-13 season.
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