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Lightning pulls away in the third for 5-3 win over Panthers

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Tyler Johnson power-play goal sends Cats to tough luck loss

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

Tyler Johnson’s power-play goal 10:56 into the third period was the difference in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s combative 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers in an exciting back and forth affair at Amalie Arena.

With Aaron Ekblad off for high-sticking, Johnson got behind Gustav Forsling to redirect a knifing pass from Yanni Gourde, who had just taken a short drop from Anthony Cirelli, into a beckoning net.

The Panthers got a goal in each period to keep pace with the Lightning until Johnson’s go-ahead marker.

Carter Verhaeghe scored a pretty goal on the backhand to open the scoring 3:28 into the game. Verhaeghe took a pass in the slot from Aleksander Barkov and held on to the puck, turning Mikhail Sergachev the wrong way and pulling Curtis McElhinney out of position before he deposited the puck into the back of the net.

With Florida enjoying a man advantage, Forsling tied things up at two with 1:36 left in the second period. After a series of passes involving Forsling, Alex Wennberg and Frank Vatrano following a Noel Acciari offensive zone faceoff win, the defenseman drove a long, hard shot by McElhinney for his second of the season.

Trailing for a second time, Patric Hornqvist came up with a nifty deflection of Keith Yandle’s slap shot from the right point at the 6:25 mark of the third and the Panthers on a power play. Barkov collected his second helper of the contest on Hornqvist’s team-leading seventh power-play tally of the season and 250th NHL goal.

Florida had a late power-play opportunity and got some 6-on-5 time to try and send the game to overtime before Brayden Point sealed their fate with an empty-netter from Ondrej Palat and Blake Coleman with 15 ticks on the clock. Point has six goals in his past eight games.

Gourde matched Verhaeghe’s goal when he swooped in to punch in the rebound after Sergei Bobrovksy denied Barclay Goodrow backhander from in close.

The Bolts took a 2-1 lead 11:23 into the second when Ekblad tipped Erik Cernak’s weak centering pass from the right side to the left side a of net, and it ended up on the stick of Alex Killorn, who quickly fired it home.

Mathieu Joseph notched his eighth when he followed up on Blake Coleman’s wraparound attempt to put Tampa Bay up for the second time 5:22 into the final frame.

A tough loss for the Panthers, who put a good fight against both the Stanley Cup champs and the referees, only to come up empty. The Cats had a second period goal by Vatrano disallowed due to an offsides call and Anthony Duclair came within a whisker of a tally that was ruled to not have entirely crossed the goal line. Florida outshot the Lightning 32-24 and matched their intensity, with each team collecting 14 PIM, unfortunately, it was the home team got the breaks in this one, with McElhinney earning First Star honors for his 29-save performance.

Shock & Aww

  • The Panthers fell to 20-7-4 and 10-3-1 on the road. Florida’s three regulation road losses are tied for the fewest among NHL teams.
  • Aleksander Barkov posted his 10th multi-point game of the season. He leads Florida in scoring with 37 points.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 of 23 shots to fall to 12-4-2. I know a lot of people will pin blame on Bobrovsky for the loss, but I didn’t think there was much he could do about any of the Lightning goals.
  • The Cats scored two power-play goals for the eighth time this season and killed off four of five Tampa Bay power plays.
  • MacKenzie Weegar had record-tying, seven-game point streak come to end. On the other end, Florida ended Steven Stamkos’ six-game point streak.
  • For more on the latest clash between the two Sunshine State teams, check out Raw Charge.

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