The Florida Panthers scored four times in a wild second period that saw the two teams combine for seven goals and twenty shots to best the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 6-4 count, handing the Bolts its first loss at Amalie Arena this season.
Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each put up a goal and an assist, and Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair and Owen Tippett also scored for the Cats in what turned out to be a pretty convincing road win over the defending Stanley Cup champions.
After Huberdeau matched Steven Stamkos’ opening salvo in the first period, thanks in large part to the hustle, and centering pass, of Patric Hornqvist, the Cats got goals from Tippett; he finished off a 2-on-1 with Eetu Luostarinen for his first of the season after Vatrano forced a turnover; a penalty shot conversion from Vatrano; the first of his career; and Duclair, who beat Curtis McElhinney on a wraparound for his first goal as Panther (finally!) to open up a 4-1 lead midway through the second.
Here’s Duclair’s beauty:
The Duke's 1st goal with the @FlaPanthers has got to be one of top goals of the year!— FOX Sports Panthers (@FOXPanthers) February 16, 2021
4 #FLAvsTBL 1 #FlaPanthers #OneTerritory
: FOX Sports Florida
: https://t.co/ZDkGMNSVFE pic.twitter.com/sXzUvrEmim
Alexander Volkov cut the deficit down to two, but Barkov got loose and outwaited McElhinney before chipping the puck home to restore Florida’s three-goal advantage 54 seconds later.
Aleksander Barkov accelerates and nets the @FlaPanthers' 4th of the 2nd period.— FOX Sports Panthers (@FOXPanthers) February 16, 2021
5 #FLAvsTBL 2 #FlaPanthers #OneTerritory
: FOX Sports Florida
: https://t.co/ZDkGMNSVFE pic.twitter.com/6aoFsyL2e5
Volkov found the back of the net again and Tyler Johnson one-timed the puck by Chris Driedger to finish off an odd-man break and Mathieu Joseph’s pass to bring the Bolts within one. The two goals came in a 48-second span.
The Panthers shook off the late second period burst, Driedger made a big skate save on Stamkos late in the frame, and regained some breathing room when Stralman took a sweet backhand pass from Huberdeau and snapped a shot into the top corner past a screened McElhinney.
After surrendering four over the first forty minutes, Driedger stopped all 11 Lightning shots (and 27 for the game) in the third to earn his fourth win of the season and helps his reach the 20-point plateau in just 13 games.
While the two goals late in the second period were unfortunate, the Cats looked dominant against the Lightning (as they did on Thursday) during the first half of the game and then righted the ship and locked things down in very un-Panther like fashion (compared to years past) in the third to win by two, instead of making it a nail-biter. With two wins in five days against powerful Tampa Bay, the Cats have served notice to their state rivals and the rest of the retooled Central Division that they are team to be reckoned with.
Shock & Awe
- The Panthers won at Amalie Arena for the first sine since March 6, 2016, breaking an eight-game (0-5-3) winless streak. Florida scored six times on just 21 shots to improve to 4-0-1 on the road, which is the best mak through their first five away games to start a season in franchise history.
- Aleksander Barkov’s assist on Anthony Duclair’s goal was his 420th NHL point, moving him past Olli Jokinen for sole possession of second in franchise history for points.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s marker was his 153rd NHL goal, surpassing Pavel Bure for sole possession of fourth place in franchise history.
- Carter Verhaeghe produced two assists, his fourth multi-point game of the season. Other Cats with helpers not mentioned above were defensemen MacKenzie Weegar and Radko Gudas.
- Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson netted three goals in the last two games.
- Florida killed off all four of the Lightning’s power-play opportunities, including one late in the game when the Bolts pulled Curtis McElhinney for a 6-on-4 advantage,
- Raw Charge has more on the Panthers latest win. We’ll see you in a month Lightning fans.