The Florida Panthers got another last-minute goal from Aaron Ekblad and a 39-save, shutout performance from Roberto Luongo to steal a 1-0 win from the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night at the BB&T Center.
Florida took a full four points from its cross-state rival in the home-and-home series, while the struggling Bolts collected just one in Saturday night's shootout loss at Amalie Arena.
The two Sunshine State clubs are tied with the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division with 19 points. The Panthers and Red Wings have played two fewer games than the Lightning.
Tampa Bay dominated the first period, out-shooting the Cats by a robust 13-4 margin. Each team had a power play chance in the opening frame, but came up empty.
The Panthers picked up the pace in the early stages of the second period and started applying pressure on Bolts starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. Unfortunately, an early power-play opportunity was negated when Jussi Jokinen was forced into hooking Valtteri Filppula to prevent a breakaway. Quinton Howden took a holding penalty later in the period and the Cats' PK came with a nice kill.
Rookie Jonathan Marchessault had a great chance to give Tampa Bay the lead midway through the frame, but he caught the cross bar and couldn't stuff the subsequent rebound past a prone Luongo.
The Lightning controlled the third period, dominating the shot clock 15-7, forcing Florida's wily veteran keeper to stay frosty to keep the Panthers in the game.
With under a minute to go and overtime looming, Jonathan Huberdeau led the Cats into the Bolts zone. Huberdeau dropped the puck to a streaking Jaromir Jagr, who quickly bunted it down low to his slick linemate. Huberdeau gathered the biscuit before skipping it back to Ekblad at the point. The sophomore defenseman's wrist shot caught unlucky Victor Hedman's skate before bouncing up and over a helpless Vasilevskiy and into the net.
The shutout was the first of the season for Luongo and the 69th of his career. Vasilevskiy finished with 18 stops and saw his record drop to 2-2.
Florida will continue its five-game homestand with the Anaheim Ducks up as the next visitor on Thursday night at 7:30 pm.
Flash & Dash
- The win was Roberto Luongo's 407th in NHL regular season action, tying him with Glenn "Mr. Goalie" Hall for eighth all-time.
- Aleksander Barkov returned after missing ten games and led all Cats' forwards with 20:52 TOI. Barkov finished the game with 2 shots, 3 hits and 3 takeaways, but did struggle in the face-off dot, winning only 2-of-10 draws.
- Joanthan Huberdeau's team-leading ninth assist extended his point streak to five games.
- The Lightning, who have only scored 46 times in 20 games, were blanked for the fourth time this season.
- Gerard Gallant was a winner in his 100th game as head coach of the Panthers. Gallant's record behind the Cats bench now stands at 46-36-18.
- Center Nick Bjugstad provided the screen on Ekblad's winner and dished out a team-high five hits.
- Lightning leading scorer Steven Stamkos led all skaters with six shots on goal.
- war-on-ice has your advanced stats breakdown right here.
- Plug into Raw Charge for the Gulf Coast-flavored take on last night's events.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)