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Third period explosion helps Panthers beat Lightning 5-4 in exciting home opener

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Cats extract revenge in the second of the back-to-back

NHL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jared McCann scored a beautiful go-ahead goal 6:42 into the third period, 36 seconds after Colton Sceviour tied the game at three, as the Florida Panthers rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 in its home opener.

McCann’s top-shelf goal was initially disallowed, but video review restored it to put the Panthers ahead 4-3 after Connor Brickley was ruled to have not interfered with goaltender Andrei Vasilveskiy. Brickley and Nick Bjugstad collected the assists.

Vincent Trocheck notched his first of the season 1:34 later by poking a rebound of Radim Vrbata’s shot for Florida’s third goal of the third period.

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period on tallies from Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov. Steven Stamkos had the primary assist on both goals which came 1:18 apart. Namestnikov’s marker came at 4:48 with Trocheck off for high-sticking.

The Panthers took over the game after falling behind, peppering Vasilevskiy with 40 shot in the first forty minutes of action.

Evegnii Dadonov got the Cats on the board at 12:18 into the opening frame when he picked up the rebound of Aaron Ekblad’s shot that rang off the post and fired it past Vasilevskiy. Jonathan Huberdeau collected the secondary assist on the power-play goal for his 200th NHL point.

Dadonov would set up Florida’s second goal, sending a streaking Bjugstad in on Vasilevskiy with a long pinpoint feed. The lanky Minnesotan beat the Tampa Bay keeper with a wrist shot from the slot. McCann started the play by breaking up a Lightning rush in his own end.

Brayden Point got loose at 13:57 of the second and put the Lightning back on top when his shot leaked through James Reimer, who mostly stopped it, mostly... Ondrej Palat registered the only assist on Point’s second of the back-to-back.

Sceviour ignited Florida’s third period explosion when he slipped the puck by Vasilevskiy after taking a centering feed from a onrushing Michael Haley. Aleksander Barkov drew the secondary assist. Barkov also picked up the second assist on Trocheck’s insurance goal.

The Panthers would end up needing that insurance goal. Tyler Johnson drew the visitors back within one when he double-stuffed the rebound of Yanni Gourde’s wraparound attempt past the goal line. Point collected his fifth point of the season with the secondary assist on the goal, which came with 5:48 left in regulation.

Reimer finished with 26 saves, with 14 coming in a very busy third period, to get the win. Vasilevskiy turned aside 43 of 48 shots after making 33 stops in Friday’s season opener for both teams.

Florida is off until Thursday when they host the St. Louis Blues at the BB&T Center. The Blues are currently 2-0 with wins over Pittsburgh and Dallas.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Bolts & Dolts

  • I’m not really sure why Jared McCann was named the game’s third star instead of the first. McCann scored the game-winning goal, had an assist and tied Radim Vrbata with a game-high six shots.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau’s 200th NHL point came in his 305th career game. Hubderdeau scored his 69th career goal in Friday’s season opener.
  • Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov has scored six goals in his last eight games against Florida.
  • The Panthers are producing gobs of shots, and eight goals in two games is nothing to sneeze at, but 1 for 10 on the power play is a little disappointing. This is an area the team can work on during the four days off before the Blues come to town.
  • Florida’s goaltending also needs to be better, however, James Reimer did make a couple of nice saves in the final minute with the Lightning on the power play and Andrei Vasilevskiy pulled, including one on Alex Killorn from a sharp angle with 20 seconds to go.
  • The Lightning only mustered 15 shots over the first two periods and went 1 for 6 on the power play.
  • Achariya and the folks at Raw Charge have the other side of the Panthers first win in what is shaping up to be an excellent season series between the two Florida teams.