The Florida Panthers were badly outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning two weeks ago at the BB&T Center, but managed to keep it close. That wasn’t the case last night as the Bolts dominated the Cats again and this time the scoreboard reflected very bit of it, as the Lightning sent the Panthers into the holiday break with a lump of coal in its stocking thanks to a 6-1 thrashing on the gulf coast.
Brayden Point redirected Erik Cernak’s shot past Sergei Bobrovsky 41 seconds after opening puck drop and defensemen Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev tacked on goals later in the period to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. Sergachev’s goal came on the power play, the first of three the Lightning would convert on the night, a season-high allowed by the Cats.
Jonathan Huberdeau gave the Panthers a glimmer of hope when he deflected Aaron Ekblad’s shot out of the air, off the ice and by Andrei Vasilevskiy 2:47 into the middle frame, second assist to Vincent Trocheck, with Pat Maroon serving a too many on the ice penalty, but man-advantage goals from Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov allowed Tampa Bay to extend its lead to four by the next break.
Hedman would beat Bobrovsky one more time with a 1:55 left in regulation to complete the scoring in the completely one-sided affair.
In addition to their goals, Point collected three assists, Kucherov added two assists and Hedman also picked up helper.
Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos each had two assists during the rout that ended Florida’s three-game winning streak.
If the Panthers do end up making the playoffs, one of the team’s I don’t want to see them play is the Lightning. The Bolts have won 11 of the last 13 games between the two, including eight in a row at Amalie Arena. Florida just doesn’t seem to have much of an answer for it’s closest neighbor’s scoring depth.
Shock & Awe
- Nikita Kucherov’s helper on Tampa Bay’s first goal was the 300th assist and 500th point of his NHL career. Double Milestone!
- The Panthers lost defensemen Aaron Ekblad midway through the second and Anton Stralman early in the third. Both should be back for Saturday’s game against Detroit.
- Sergei Bobrovsky’s recent good work to improve his personal stats took a hit as he stopped just 28 of 34 shots.
- Jonathan Huberdeau has scored goals in three consecutive games and now shares the team lead (14) with Brett Connolly.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots in his 224th start. The 25-year-old moved past Ben Bishop for the most starts in franchise history.
- For more on yet another Tampa Bay win over Florida, visit Raw Charge.