Lightning score early and often to sink listless Panthers

Florida Panthers @ Tampa Bay Lightning, November 26th, 2011: The Game That Never Happened. Or at least the game undiscernibly smudged by a coffee stain on Kevin Dineen's schedule, because his team forgot to show up tonight. And Craig Ramsay missed the bus to Tampa. And Gord Murphy had a pee-wee game to catch. In fact, no one showed up tonight against the Lightning, sure the 5-1 boxscore sounds bad enough but without Jacob Markstrom in net we're looking at double digits. On all accounts it was a bad game, 13 players with negative ratings, 0-29 on the powerplay, the force field keeping the Panthers out of Tampa's zone. All bad. The bright-side? None, I was just getting your hopes up.

Seriously though, the last scoring crisis we had sent David Booth packing, and while that shouldn't be the case this time, the whole team needs to step up. Kevin Dineen could really use a captain to emerge if this losing trend is to end any time soon. Recap after the jump.



 

1st: Jacob Markstrom, the impressive rookie goaltender for the Panthers would get the start and the Sean Bergenheim line would take the opening faceoff. Immediately skating strong, the Lightning would take an early lead when Marty St. Loius would earn his 300th goal as he tapped the puck past Markstrom at 2:07 into the period, assists to Brett Connolly and Brett Clark. Tampa made it clear early that they wouldn't be boring team we saw last night but the familiar offensive minded Lightning of last season. Tampa would be called for a trip and the Panthers would go on their first powerplay of the night. The man advantage wouldn't tie the game, with only a few shots making it towards Matthieu Garon. Minutes later Michal Repik would be pulled down by Steven Stamkos to give Florida their second powerplay of the period. Again, nothing. The period would end with Marty's goal the only score.

2nd: The second period would start with a little more energy from the Panthers, but they would be kept to dump and chase for the first few minutes. Tom Pyatt made a beautiful move to undress Erik Gudbranson, skate past a sliding Ed Jovanovski and backhand the puck home past Markstrom to take a 2-0 lead. That wouldnt be all though, as Stamkos would deflect the puck from a Teddy Purcell shot for a 3-0 lead. Oh they weren't done there either: the Panthers got caught on a bad change (again) giving the Lightning a 3-on-2, the resulting goal going to Ryan Malone. 4-0. Another completely pathetic powerplay for the Panthers would come up short leaving Garon smelling a shutout. Dmitry Kulikov would take a holding the stick penalty, so the Lightning enjoyed their first powerplay of the night. Tampa Bay would take a too many men penalty while on the powerplay resulting in 4-on-4 hockey. And then the period ended.

3rd: Again, Florida seemed interested in playing hockey during the first five minutes of the period, but that would slowly slip away as Tampa tightened the stranglehold again. The rest was just a painful blur. The short of it: Shawn Matthias would score off a misplay by Garon, assist going to Jack Skille. SECONDARY SCORING! Then Stamkos would intercept Kulikov's ill-timed breakout pass to make the score 5-1. Then we lost.

Observations:

  • Who's the mentor and who needs the mentoring? Jovo made some rookie mistakes out there while Gudbranson played like the veteran.
  • Markstrom sure is a good goalie when his team shows up.
  • Powerplay? Awful.
  • Maybe Mikael Samuelsson wont be the scoring savior we all hope, but bringing in a veteran for the lower lines certainly can't hurt. 
  • The San Antonio Express line was about the only good one tonight for the Panthers. Lots of speed and chances, too bad none can finish a scoring chance.
  • Garrison/Campbell, please put the offense aside and return to defense. Kulikov/Weaver, back to playing defense. The forward lines will find their scoring touch eventually, until then we need defenders to defend.
  • Did I mention how bad the powerplay has been?
  • Garon looked like a brick wall tonight. What a joke when the high-flying Panthers are intimidated by a marginal backup goalie. 
  • Washington lost, too bad we keep handing points to Tampa Bay.
  • Baaaaaaaaaag skaaaaaaaaaate. I want those words to echo in the ears of the 22 skaters who 'played' tonight.

Up next: The wrath of Kevin Dineen. After that, our first look at Cam Ward and the Hurricanes.

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