The Bolts did their part in slowing down a red-hot Florida Panthers team, but that wasn't done without a little bit of extra effort toward the end of the game.
The game started off slow, with only eight shots total hitting the net for the first period. The Lightning got most of the opportunities, with two of note. Midway through the period, Jonathan Marchessault fed Erik Condra a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone. Condra took it around the net for a wraparound attempt, which slid past a wide-open goalmouth. Then, later in the period, Nikita Nesterov streaked down the ice himself, sliding through a few Florida defenders to zip a shot wide of Roberto Luongo.
Early in the second period, it looked like the Florida Panthers would strike first. Jonathan Huberdeau got in on Ben Bishop with a partial breakaway, but Andrej Sustr tripped him up. This drew a penalty, but it saved a goal. It began what would be a long night for the Bolts penalty killing squad, who played without Brian Boyle in the lineup (lower body, day-to-day).
Finally, Kucherov broke open the scoring, earning his 17th goal of the season at 4:21. Kucherov down the wing into the offensive zone, slammed on the brakes and launched a slapshot over Roberto Luongo's shoulder. The assists went to Nikita Nesterov and Anton Stralman.
Immediately following the goal, the Lightning had some excellent zone time and looked to be on the way to putting another one in the net. However, play ended with the Panthers heading to the power play, this time off of a high-sticking call to Erik Condra. The Lightning killed this one and would remain perfect on all five of their penalty kill scenarios for the remainder of the evening.
Late in the second period, Andrej Sustr found himself parked in front of the net, getting an opportunity to backhand a shot into the back of the net after a shot by Jason Garrison from the point went wide. His goal at 18:30 was his second of the season and shows just how much his play has improved lately. The secondary assist on the goal went to Valtteri Filppula.
The third period seemed to be a different story for the Lightning, as the Panthers came out with fire from the intermission. Despite an early chance for Tyler Johnson, which was called off after a review showed Luongo sweeping the puck off the goal line, the Panthers held the momentum for most of the period.
That momentum finally paid off for them when Nick Bjugstad found himself alone in front of the net to put in his own rebound at 8:06. The lone assist went to Jussi Jokinen. That would be the only goal scored by the Panthers, however, as Nikita Kucherov secured the win with an empty net goal at 18:36.
The Bolts will next play the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Amalie Arena. Puck drop will be at 7:30 p.m.
- The Bolts improved their home record to 12-8-2 on the season.
- The Panthers have lost their past three games after previously winning 12 in a row.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Freddie Moore as the 22nd Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Florida Panthers. Moore, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, Open Café, Sickle Cell Association of Hillsborough County, Dr. Martin Luther King Parade Foundation, Men of Vision, and St. Peter Claver School. Moore has made it his mission to make the Tampa Bay area a diverse place to live so that everyone feels a strong sense of community. Following riots in Tampa during the 1980's, Moore saw the need to bring Tampa back together and embrace cultural diversity. He championed a campaign to rename a local street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which helped Tampa citizens come together and heal. A founding member of the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs, Moore continued his outreach to bring the community together. The organization aims to nurture young professionals into leaders through a variety of community programs. Moore also serves as a board member of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival. Moore fosters an environment of cultural diversity to grow the local community.