Lightning post 3-1 win over anemic Panthers

Cats finish up road trip with third straight loss

It's official. The Florida Panthers are officially in a slump. After getting shutout in Calgary, the Cats produced just one goal in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. The loss was Florida's third in a row (0-2-1).

After a tightly played and scoreless first period that saw the Bolts outshoot the Panthers by a 5-3 margin, Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring at the 4:21 mark of the second period. Kucherov slammed on the breaks in the right circle and whipped the puck by Roberto Luongo after taking a long pass from Nikita Nesterov. Anton Stralman drew the second helper on the play.

Defenseman Andrej Sustr added to lead with 1:19 remaining in the frame when he was able to stick the rebound of Jason Garrison's shot, which missed high, into the back of the net. Valtteri Filppula also was credited with an assist.

Nick Bjugstad finally got the Panthers on the board with his first goal (and point) since returning to the lineup at 8:06 of the third. Bjugstad took a nice pass from Jussi Jokinen and after being stopped by Ben Bishop, put his own rebound home for his eighth of the season.

The Cats ended up outshooting the Lighting 14-12 in the final period, but couldn't dent Bishop for the equalizer and Kucherov was able to ice the game with an empty-netter with a 1:24 left in regulation. Victor Hedman got the lone assist on Kucherov's eighteenth.

The Panthers return home to face the Edmonton Oilers tonight before getting a much-needed three-day break in the schedule. The Cats need a win to right the ship and maintain their lead on the Detroit Red Wings, who have crept within three points of the Atlantic Division lead.

Flash & Dash

The Lightning limited Florida's top line of Aleksander Barkov, Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau to zero shots on goal. I don't think we need Michio Kaku to explain that one to us.

Nick Bjugstad's goal was his first since November 21, when he scored against the New York Rangers. Bjugstad finished the game with five shots, tying Vincent Trocheck for the team-high in that department.

Derek MacKenzie won 5-of-6 in the faceoff dot and went at it Cedric Paquette in the third period to earn five for fighting.

Tyler Johnson led all skaters with seven shots on goal, but could not solve Roberto Luongo.

The Cats are now 0-2-1 without defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was injured in Edmonton.

Ben Bishop finished the game with 26 saves, while Luongo stopped 29 of the 31 he faced.

war-on-ice has the advanced stats breakdown for you right here.

Pay the fine folks over at Raw Charge a visit for the other side of the latest Sunshine State clash.

Highlights (courtesy of