Game 35: Tampa Bay Lightning versus Florida Panthers

Once again, the Lightning erase a two-goal deficit to force overtime, but this time, they come up just short in falling to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout.

The Florida Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3-2 in a shootout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Tuesday night.

"It's a tough one. I thought we did a lot of good things out there and I thought we deserved better." - Lightning forward Tom Pyatt

The Panthers struck first with Tomas Kopecky scoring a power play goal at 8:36 of the first. He was assisted by TJ Brennan and Tomas Fleischmann.

In spite of outshooting Florida 14-8 and enjoying a 5-on-3 power play, the Bolts were unable to get on the board and the period ended with the Panthers up 1-0.

A repeat was in the offing for the second period as the Panthers cashed in on the power play while the Lightning came up empty. This time it was Greg Rallo scoring with the man advantage at 16:41 with assists from Brennan and Filip Kuba.

"Special teams did us in a little bit." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

The Panthers carried the 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

One of the positive traits that this year's Lightning team has demonstrated, even before the recent coaching change, is a tendency to rally late. They erased two different two-goal deficits in their last game, a 5-4 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils and they began carving away at the Panthers' lead at 5:38 of the third, with Pyatt scoring his seventh goal of the season. He was assisted on the play by Teddy Purcell and Matt Carle.

At the 10:32 mark, they tied it up when Alex Killorn potted his sixth goal of the season, the second game in a row that he would eventually send into overtime, with Victor Hedman and Purcell offering helpers.

"As it went on, I felt like we had a better chance to win the game. We just got stronger as the game went on. Especially in the third, and probably overtime too, we had the puck most of the time." - Cooper

Florida was outshot 4-2 in the extra period but neither team scored so the Bolts found themselves in a shootout for the second consecutive time.

The Panthers' Peter Mueller was the only skater to score during the shootout, giving Florida the win.

Florida netminder Jacob Markstrom was frequently spectacular all night in stopping 39 of 41 shots. Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon stopped 23 of the 25 shots that came his way.

The Lightning will now head out on a three-game road trip and will be in action again on Thursday when they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Game notes:

  • Stat of the night? A crowd of 17,904 was on hand at the Forum, the first home game to not sell out this season.
  • Tonight's 41 shots is the most the Lightning have recorded in a game since March 5, 2011 against the Montreal Canadiens, a game they lost 4-2.
  • Steven Stamkos had his eight-game goal scoring streak against the Panthers, the longest in Lightning history vs Florida, come to a halt tonight.
  • Vincent Lecavalier practiced this morning, his first time on the ice since suffering an injury on March 12th. Pending an evaluation by the team's medical staff, he could return to the lineup Thursday against the Hurricanes.
  • In addition to the earlier trade that saw the Lightning re-acquire forward Adam Hall in exchange for little-used defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, they also traded defenseman Kirill Gotovets to the Chicago Blackhawks for left winger Philippe Paradis. Paradis, a former first round draft choice by Carolina, will be assigned to Syracuse.
  • The Lightning's 51 third-period goal is tops in the NHL.
  • The Lightning honored Allen Guy as the 34th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Panthers. Guy, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Young Life of Tampa, Oasis, Special Connections and Voices for Children Guardian ad Litem. Guy has been multi-tasking for the benefit of children in foster care with disabilities, as well as typical teens, for many years to ensure all children receive equal possibilities to succeed. A stay at home dad, with little down time, he balances his busy family time with volunteering for various non-profit organizations, including Oasis, Young Life, Special Connections, the Capernaum Program and the Voices for Children ad Litem program. Volunteering more than 150 hours a month, he ensures that underprivileged youth are clothed and cared for. The mission is a simple one for Guy, to care for as many people that he can in his limited spare time. He works with groups that support children with disabilities, ensuring they enjoy the same opportunities as others. This humanitarian trades in his free time to serve as a full-time volunteer, teaching teens to spend time in the community learning how to help others in need.