Panthers fall 3-2 to Lightning in preseason finale

Bolts zap Cats with three goals late in the third to steal win.

With a 2-0 lead after forty minutes, the Florida Panthers looked like they were going to wrap up the exhibition slate in fine fashion. Instead, the Tampa Bay Lightning stunned the host Cats with three goals in a 3:24 span late in the third period to pull out a 3-2 win.

The Panthers finished the preseason with a 3-3 record, light years ahead last year's squad winless performance. Unfortunately, a huge third period collapse is not really how you want to go into the regular season, meaningless game or not.

The Cats opened the scoring on a goal from Derek MacKenzie at the 12:47 mark of the first period. MacKenzie's marker was set up by Quinton Howden and Alex Petrovic.

Center Nick Bjugstad struck for a power-play goal six minutes later with Erik Condra in the box for hooking. Brian Campbell and Brandon Pirri combined on the set up.

Florida dominated the second period, controlling possession and out-shooting the Lightning by a 13-5 margin, but couldn't add another nail to the coffin.

Tampa Bay flipped the script on Florida in third, finally getting on the board with 5:26 remaining when Ondrej Palat beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand shot. Brian Boyle and Victor Hedman collected the helpers on goal.

Boyle would pot one of his own 1:38 later, with the assists going to Condra and Drouin.

Drouin would get the game-winner 1:46 after that, putting a wrist shot past Luongo to complete the comeback. Nikita Nesterov and Anton Stralman picked up the assists on the goal.

Ben Bishop went the distance for the Lightning, making 32 saves for the Eastern Conference champions, who finished the preseason with a 3-3-1 record. Luongo stopped 27 of the 30 Lightning shots he faced.

Odds & Ends

  • The win gave the Lightning a two-game, preseason sweep of the Panthers. Florida needs to close these type of games out in the regular season, especially against a division rival.
  • Jussi Jokinen, who led the Cats with four preseason points, finished with a team-best five shots on goal.
  • Brandon Pirri had three assists in the preseason after posting only two last regular season.
  • The Bolts really clamped down on the Panthers' top line, limiting the trio of Barkov-Jagr-Huberdeau to a combined two shots on goal.
  • In addition to his goal, Ondrej Palat led the Lightning with a game-high nine shots.
  • Training camp surprise Connor Brickley didn't have any points or shots, but did dish out five hits.