The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday night.
Once again, the Lightning needed to come from behind (twice this time) to remain undefeated on the very young 2016-17 season. Facing division rivals and defending Atlantic Division champion the Florida Panthers for the first time this year, Tampa Bay surrendered the opening goal again, as has been the case in all three games played so far. They rallied from that deficit as well as another one-goal margin as time was expiring in regulation to force overtime and eventually emerge victorious in a shootout.
The first period ended in a scoreless tie, during which the Lightning dominated play, especially early. The Lightning outshot the Panthers just 10-8 but kept the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of time.
The Panthers opened the scoring at 2:38 of the second, with Colton Sceviour scoring shorthanded on an assist from Derek MacKenzie.
Just under four minutes later at 6:18, Alex Killorn tied the game at one, when Nikita Kucherov fed him from behind the net.
Late in the period, the Lightning took the lead when Ondrej Palat swatted home a rebound that resulted from Steven Stamkos trying to work the puck in from the left side. Jonathan Drouin picked up the secondary assist.
The Lightning would carry that one-goal lead into the second intermission.
At 5:26, Vincent Trocheck tied the game for Florida, getting help from Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith.
A little over 10 minutes later, they regained the lead at 15:52 on a goal from Michael Matheson, with assistance coming from Greg McKegg and Jason Demers.
With the clock winding down, the Lightning pulled goalie Ben Bishop for an extra attacker with about a minute and a half remaining. The ploy paid off with just 5.5. seconds remaining as Stamkos scored on assists from Victor Hedman and Valtteri Filppula to guarantee at least a single point in the standings and send the game into overtime. Talking later about the goal, Stamkos said, “It’s obviously a shot that’s not going to go in a lot. It’s something that you (play) around with before and after practice where you shoot at those sharp angles. Eventually, you’re going to catch one and obviously it was nice to see that go in.”
The Bolts squandered a golden opportunity in bonus time when Jaromir Jagr was called for Tripping at 2:11, giving Tampa Bay a full two minutes of four-on-three power play. They were unable to convert and neither team scored during the extra period, necessitating a shootout.
Jonathan Drouin scored for the Lightning and it looked like the game was over when Ben Bishop appeared to have stopped Trocheck’s attempt. Trocheck wound up swatting in what looked like a rebound but a video review determined that he never actually took what had appeared to be an initial shot, that he actually lost control of the puck and Bishop kicked it out to him. The goal was allowed and the shootout continued.
Rookie Brayden Point scored on Florida goalie James Reimer and Bishop then denied Aaron Ekblad to finish things off.
Talking about scoring the game winner, Point said, “I just tried to make the best of it. I just tried to relax. For sure, there were nerves. It was the first time I have ever done that in this league, so I was a little bit nervous but I just tried to make the best of it.”
The Lightning’s current homestand continues and concludes Thursday night when they host the Colorado Avalanche.
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