The Florida Panthers (2-0-1) lost its first game of the young season Tuesday night, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
The Panthers almost pulled out a big road win, but Steven Stamkos tied the game with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation, scoring from an almost impossible angle after taking a pass from Victor Hedman. Valtteri Filppula drew the secondary assist on the play.
After the Cats came up with a huge penalty kill in overtime, the game went to a shootout where rookie Brayden Point delivered the sixth-round winner when he fired the puck past the glove of James Reimer, who was making his first start for Florida. Ben Bishop denied Aaron Ekblad to end the contest and give Tampa Bay the coveted bonus point.
Point’s deciding tally came after Jonathan Drouin and Vincent Trocheck traded goals in the third round of the skills compeitition. Trocheck’s goal was initially waved off after he whiffed on his first attempt at a shot, but the puck remained in motion and the goal was eventually awarded after a review.
Florida opened the scoring 2:38 into the second period when Colton Sceviour notched a shorthanded marker by finishing off a 2-on-1 with Derek MacKenzie after an Anton Stralman turnover. The goal was Sceviour’s second of the season.
The Bolts tied the tilt 3:40 later after Nikita Kucherov stripped Aaron Ekblad of the puck behind the Cats’ net and fed Alex Killorn for a one-timer.
Tampa Bay struck again at the 16:21 mark of the middle frame when Ondrej Palat roofed a loose puck after Reimer denied Stamkos on a wraparound bid. Stamkos was able to dig the puck out of Reimer’s pad before the whistle was blown. Drouin collected the second helper on the play.
An offensive zone faceoff win by Vincent Trocheck led to his second of the season and a tie score at 5:26 of the third period. After Bishop stopped Reilly Smith on a wraparound, Jussi Jokinen was able to pass the rebound back out in front to Trocheck, who rapped it home.
The Panthers took the lead when rookie Michael Matheson notched his first NHL goal with 4:08 left in regulation time. Matheson joined the play with a penalty on the Lightning pending and converted from the left circle after receiving Greg McKegg’s nice backhand dish. Jason Demers’ long pass to McKegg started the play and gave him his first point in a Florida uniform.
Reimer made 25 saves in his Panthers’ debut while Bishop turned aside 31 shots, including eleven in the third and two in overtime to get the win.
The Cats will return home from Florida’s left coast to take on the Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals Thursday night at the BB&T Center.
It would have been nice for the Panthers to come back from Tampa 3-0, but they fought hard to earn a point in their first roadie of the season in what turned out to be a pretty intense third game of the season, coming up just seconds short due to a little Stamkos magic.
Flash & Dash
- Jaromir Jagr remained stuck on 749 goals and hasn’t lit the lamp since Game 81 of last season. The Bolts limited Jagr to just one shot on goal and the active legend’s hooking minor gave Tampa Bay a chance to end it overtime.
- Center Derek MacKenzie was one of four Panthers to finish with a plus rating and the only one to go +2. MacKenzie won 8 of the 14 draws he took.
- For the third straight game, the Cats scratched Shawn Thornton and Steven Kampfer. Let’s see if either gets into the lineup against the Capitals.
- The win gave the Lightning its fifth 3-0 start in franchise history.
- Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Colton Sceviour all finished with a game-high four shots on goal.
- The penalty kill rules as both teams went 0 for 3 on the power play.
- For the other side of the tilt, put on your black leather and stop by Raw Charge, which is now sadly without Johnny Fonts. We’ll miss you, bud!