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Recap: Panthers remain firmly in the chase with 4-1 win over Lightning

Eric Staal and Eetu Luostarinen each collected a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 of 29 shots to lead the Florida Panthers to a huge 4-1 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After absorbing a early push from the Lightning, the Cats scored thrice in the first period to take control of the game.

Staal the Center got the first goal at 6:19 with a perfect redirection of Josh Mahura’s hard pass from the right point after Nick Cousins fed the puck back to the defenseman. Just the tip, baby!

Florida went up by two at 15;56 when Marc Staal knocked the puck up to Matthew Tkachuk at the blue line and he tipped it into the offensive zone. Anton Lundell beat Zach Bogosian to the loose puck and cut in on Andrei Vasilevskiy before solving him far side with a perfectly placed forehand shot.

The third Panthers goal came 1:41 later after Mahura repelled Ross Colton in his own end. Tkachuk turned the play around and Anthony Duclair carried the puck up the ice. Duclair’s centering pass for Brandon Montour didn’t connect, but, after Tkachuk kept the puck down low, The Duke regained and brought the puck out in front where he was stripped. Corey Perry swatted the puck into the slot to Luostarinen, who quickly buried it.

The Lightning got their only goal 11:39 into the second with Colin White off for high-sticking. Nikita Kucherov crossed to Steven Stamkos, who went back into the slot where Brayden Point pushed the puck into the empty net with Bobrovsky out of position. Point now has goals in five straight games.

Tampa Bay dominated the third period, outshooting the Panthers by an 18-4 margin, only to see Bobrovsky stop them all to earn First Star honors.

Duclair, playing in just his second game of the season, notched his first goal with five ticks left on the clock by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Staal the Center with Vasilevskiy off for an extra attacker. Luostarinen was credited with the secondary assist.

Without Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett again, and running an 11-7 formation, the Cats came up with a big road win to keep them firmly in the playoff chase. They gained two points on Detroit and Buffalo, one on the New York Islanders, and held serve with the suddenly-revived Pittsburgh Penguins and red-hot Ottawa Senators. The Panthers will play their next seven games at FLA Live Arena. A successful homestand could make the math for a postseason appearance work a lot better than it does right now.

Nuts & Bolts

  • In need of a win, the depleted Panthers clawed one out to end Tampa Bay’s franchise record 16-game home point streak end (14-0-2).
  • Casey Fitzgerald registered one shot on goal and one hit in 4:32 TOI in his Florida debut. Fitzgerald was claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres on January 11.
  • Newly acquired Tanner Jeannot was held without a point in his Lightning debut. The former Predator was minus-1 with three hits in 11:57 of ice time.
  • Tampa Bay had two goals waved off and the Panthers had one taken off the board. The officials made the right call in all three instances.
  • Andrei Vasilveskiy finished the game with 37 saves. 34 of those stops came during the first two periods.
  • Florida finished the season series against the Lightning with a 2-1-1 record. Read more about it at Raw Charge./