Game 21: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 in overtime at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, Friday night.

In what was looked at as a "bounce-back" game if not a "save-our-season" game, the Lightning found some of the consistent intensity (or intense consistency, if you prefer) that seemed to have been in short supply lately by sticking to their game plan, being disciplined and giving a sustained effort the whole game.

"It was a good team effort. I thought our forwards set a good pace for us and then we used our speed in the neutral zone, and on breakouts, we weren't slow like we usually are in our zone. So it gave us opportunities to set a certain tone." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

The Panthers allowed very little room for error, especially in goal where Jose Theodore was solid throughout and occasionally spectacular, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Lightning starting netminder Mathieu Garon was equally tough, stopping 23 of the 24 shots that came his way.

The first period ended in a scoreless tie, which was broken at 12:38 of the second. Tomas Fleischmann put the Panthers on the board first with help from Stephen Weiss. Florida carried that 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

The Lightning finally got on the board at 8:59 of the third, capitalizing on a botched line change by the Panthers that resulted in a turnover. Vincent Lecavalier banged home the tip-in on an assist from Martin St. Louis when Theodore was unable to control the rebound.

Regulation ended with the teams tied at one. In the first minute of play in overtime, Florida's Dmitry Kulikov was called for interference, only the second penalty called against the Panthers all night. At 2:29, the Lightning cashed in when St. Louis and Marc-Andre Bergeron set up Steven Stamkos for his favorite shot, the one timer from the left circle.

For the Lightning, it was just their fourth win on the road this season, snapping a two game losing streak and gaining a point in the standings against the current Southeast Division leader in the process. More importantly, it showed a return to the form that the Lightning have demonstrated during games in which they're difficult to beat.

"That was one of the more solid structured games that we've had on the road this year. Obviously, we wanted a lot better atmosphere and attitude coming into this game, especially after what happened at home against Toronto. We had another fast start in the first period. Hopefully that's a trend that continues." - Steven Stamkos "We know that we need to play a tight game. That's what we need to do. We can't run-and-gun. We know that. We don't have what it takes to run-and-gun and expect to win games. So whenever we've played tight games; we've won. Whenever we've tried to run-and-gun it, we get our butts kicked." - Boucher
The two teams will square off again tomorrow at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Game notes:

  • Once again, the Lightning gave up the first goal of the game, the 14th time (21 total games) this season.
  • The last time the Lightning were involved in agame decided by one goal, it was also a 2-1 overtime win, November 9th, against the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Vincent Lecavalier milestone watch: 449 assists.
  • Martin St. Louis milestone watch: 493 assists, 796 points
  • Dana Tyrell made his first appearance of the season with the Lightning, having been recalled from Norfolk on Wednesday. He logged 10:36 on the ice.
  • After tomorrow's game at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Lightning and Panthers will only meet one more time during the regular season, February 12th at the St. Pete Times Forum.