Florida welcomed their cross state rivals from Tampa Bay to the BB&T Center this afternoon at 5PM. Despite it being the second game of a back-to-back, the Panthers earned two points, defeating the Eastern Conference leading Lightning by a 4-3 final count.
In the first period, the Panthers got off on the right skate with Jaromir Jagr's first goal as a Panther, his 12th of the season and his 717th overall. Jonathan Huberdeau and Brian Campbell earned helpers on the play, which came halfway into the frame. The Bolts pulled even just a minute and a half later with an Anton Stralman wrister past Al Montoya from 22-feet out. Jonathan Drouin and Brian Boyle were awarded the assists.
In the second, Aleksander Barkov scored his 10th marker of the season while falling down, poking the loose puck past Ben Bishop for the lead at the 5:31 mark. Jagr earned an assist on the play (and is now averaging a point per game with the team, FWIW), as did Jonathan Huberdeau. Brad Boyes doubled the lead at the 17 minute mark with his 11th goal of the season, unassisted.
The third period would see the Panthers add an insurance marker four minutes into play when Nick Bjugstad hit Aaron Ekblad on the power play. Ekblad one-timed a shot directly off ex-Panther Jason Garrison for his 10th of the season. Huberdeau earned his third assist of the game on the play. The Lightning got one back when Steven Stamkos beat Montoya for his 35th of the campaign on a wide open cage at the 8:31 mark, Montoya was badly out of position to guard against what turned out to be an assist by Alex Killorn. Garrison also earned an assist. With 2:44 left in regulation, they made Florida sweat when Tyler Johnson put his 24th of the season (assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Stralman) on the board to make it 4-3, Panthers. Tampa Bay pulled Bishop with 1:21 remaining to get added pressure on Montoya, but the Panthers were able to maintain their lead for a 4-3 win in Sunrise.