The Florida Panthers saw their franchise record 13-game winning streak come to unceremonious end last night as they were blasted 8-4 by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final regular season game at FLA Live Arena.
With the score tied 3-3 early in the second period Nick Paul scored a dazzling shorthanded goal, going between his legs to beat Spencer Knight at 5;28 after taking a centering feed from Brandon Hagel. Paul would light the lamp a second time 7:31 later, from Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman to chase Knight and completely turn the tide after the Panthers battled back from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits.
There would be no comeback in the third period as the Lightning got goals from Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos to offset a Florida power-play marker from Sam Reinhart.
The goals from Kucherov, Stamkos and Reinhart were the second of the night for each player.
In addition to scoring twice, Kucherov added three assists while Stamkos had two as duo combined for nine points. Hedman finished the game with four helpers.
Brandon Montour scored on an unassisted slap shot late in the first period to get the Cats within a goal and Mason Marchment tied the game with an impressive one-handed swat 59 seconds into the middle frame.
Claude Giroux collected two assists and Jonathan Huberdeau, Anton Lundell, Noel Acciari and MacKenzie Weegar also collected helpers.
Cal Foote was the other Lightning goal-scorer and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves.
Knight departed with 12 saves on 17 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky mopped up and finished with 13 saves.
After pulling quite a few rabbits out the hat, the Panthers were definitely due for a loss, but this was an ugly one. The Cats had no answer for Tampa Bay’s star players and once again, the Lightning’s power-play riddled Florida with goals, going a tidy 3 for 7. While Kucherov and Stamkos were piling up the points Barkov was held pointless and Huberdeau managed one assist on Reinhart’s second. The two-time defending champs are serving notice that they are still the team to beat after pounding Toronto, Nashville and now the Cats over a four-day span. That’s it for the home slate, where the Panthers finished a league-best 34-7. The Cats will open a three-game road trip tomorrow night in Boston.
Nuts & Bolts
- Samson Reinhart became the fourth Panthers player to reach 30 goals this season, joining Aleksander Barkov, Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Huberdeau. It’s the first 30-goal campaign of his career.
- Huberdeau’s 115th point left him three behind Connor McDavid in the Art Ross Trophy race. Each player has three games remaining on the schedule.
- Steven Stamkos became the first player in Lightning history with four consecutive games with at least three points.
- Nikita Kucherov extended his goal streak to six games, two shy of the club record set by Brian Bradley in 1992-93.
- Barkov, Kucherov and Reinhart each finished with a game-high five shots on goal.
- The Lightning and Panthers each won twice in the season series, but the Cats collected one more point, so... Read more about it at Raw Charge.