Tuesday night went awry for the Florida Panthers, who looked every bit like a team playing its third game in four days.
in addition to dropping a frustrating 2-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Cats saw the three other Atlantic Division teams chasing them (Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal) all post victories.
After stopping 63 of 65 shots this past weekend, Sergei Bobrovsky delivered another high-quality start, turning away 46 of 48 Tampa Bay shots in defeat.
Steven Stamkos opened the scoring 6:42 into the first period, when he ended up with the biscuit in front of Bobrovsky after Alex Killorn charged to a loose puck and rapped it over to his open captain. Stamkos quickly worked his around the Panthers keeper and swept a forehand into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season.
A strong argument could be made that Stamkos tripped Mike Matheson behind the net, causing the aforementioned loose puck, Unfortunately, the zebras did not see it that way.
The Lightning would go up by two early in the second period. Bobrovsky denied a hard, low shot by Anthony Cirelli on a 3-on-2 break, but the rebound came right to Killorn, who deftly backhanded it home for what turned out to be the game-winner.
Bobrovksy would make 16 saves in the third period to give his team a chance to come back, and after a Brett Connolly goal was waved off, Evgenii Dadonov finally got the Cats on the board with exactly two minutes left on the clock.
Jonathan Huberdeau got a piece of Mike Hoffman’s shot from the right circle and Dadonov was able to just tip the puck over the goal line after it leaked through Andrei Vasilevskiy with Bobrovsky off for an extra attacker.
Vasilevskiy finished with 27 saves as he and his mates would close the door the rest of the way and the determined Bolts moved two points closer to their cross-state rivals with a game in hand. A nice bounce back after they were beaten 5-1 by the New York Islanders, who are next up for the Cats, the night before.
The loss dropped the Panthers to 3-2 on this key nine-game homestand. Florida is going to have to come with some big wins over the second half of it to make it a success. A tough task considering the remaining opponents.
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- Tampa Bay’s 48 shots on goal matched a season high and were the most allowed by Florida.
- Speaking of shots. Aleskander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad led the Panthers with three apiece.
- Ekblad played a game-high 24:08, blocked two shots, had a takeaway and finished with a plus-one rating. Nice game.
- Steven Stamkos now has 33 goals against the Panthers, his most again any opponent. In 53 career games against Florida he has amassed 65 points.
- After going 4-for-11 on the power play its previous three games, the Cats went 0-for-3 last night.
- For more on the latest edition of the Battle of Florida, visit Raw Charge.