The answer to the question, “Will Matt Wieters land in Tampa Bay?”...
Luongo Shuts Door, Lightning Fall To Panthers 3-1
The Tampa Bay Lightning came into the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL on Monday night looking for their second win of the season over the Florida Panthers. Last year, they went 0-2-0 in the Panthers’ den and failed to win The Governor’s Cup. This year, they took game one in Tampa with a trick shot from captain Steven Stamkos and a Brayden Point shootout goal. Tonight they clashed once again to see who would come out on top in this Atlantic Division showdown that saw the goaltending of Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop and Florida’s Roberto Luongo play important roles.
First Period: The puck was dropped and Florida would put pressure early on and eventually draw a Braydon Coburn hooking penalty just 2:28 into the game. With the man advantage, former Tampa Bay forward Jonathan Marchessault would sling the puck at the net and watch as it deflected past Bishop to open the scoring at 3:10 of the first period.
Tampa Bay would then weather the storm as the home team decided to take a gunslinger approach, firing shots from all angles. Luckily for the Bolts, Ben Bishop stood tall and the Lightning would get a much-needed power play opportunity as Florida’s Derek MacKenzie would take a hooking penalty. That call was then followed shortly after by a Reilly Smith penalty, giving Tampa Bay a five-on-three advantage for 46 seconds. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, they would not be able to convert.
The Bolts would then gain some momentum and hold the Panthers without a shot for the last seven minutes of the period while peppering Luongo with six of their own. Right when the buzzer sounded, Stamkos would be called for a hooking penalty and the Bolts would start the second on the penalty kill.
Second Period: The second period would be all goaltending as both Bishop and Luongo would show us their best stuff. The Lightning killed the Panthers power play and both teams would then be shorthanded, as Tampa’s Alex Killorn and Florida’s Aaron Ekblad went to the sin bin for slashing at 7:01. This culminated from a hit from Ekblad that Killorn felt was a bit too dangerous. Both men would exchange slight hockey pleasantries and serve their time.
During the 4-on-4, the goalies would continue to shine. Odd man rushes would be stopped, breakaways stifled, and rebounds knocked away as both teams could not come away with a goal. This brilliant netminding would continue even when Tampa Bay’s J.T. Brown tossed the puck out of the rink to incur a delay of game penalty at 15:03. Bishop would reject several opportunistic Panther scoring chances, one with his leg pad that, if a hair slower, would have been a second Florida goal. The period would end with Florida barely leading in shots 24-23.
Third Period: Down by a goal entering the third, the Lightning needed to keep up the urgency they began to show at the end of the second. The fruits of their labor would blossom into a goal by Ondrej Palat 1:15 into the third to tie the game at 1-1. The goal would happen from the mistake of Florida defenseman Robert Petrovic, who whiffed on the clearing attempt, causing the puck to trickle in front of an unsuspecting Luongo. Palat, being at the right place at the right time, would tuck it in for his second of the season. The period would then be played in a back-and-forth manner, both teams not wanting to give an inch. This would go on until a costly mistake by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman led to a shot by Smith that would beat Bishop with 4:28 left in the period. With so little time left in regulation, the Lightning would try to grind out a miracle. Unfortunately, there would be none tonight as Florida’s MacKenzie would seal the game with an empty netter in the final seconds.
Three Stars of The Game:
- Roberto Luongo, 34 saves, 1 goal allowed
- Ben Bishop, 29 saves, 2 goals allowed
- Ondrej Palat, 1 goal, 7 shots
Next up: Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-1) vs New York Islanders (5-6-2) on Thursday night at 7:30pm in Tampa, FL.