Not for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Teddy Purcell’s game-tying goal at 8:11 of the third period forced overtime, allowing Dominic Moore to score the game-winner in the shootout as the Lightning earned a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center Sunday night.
“They have certainly had our number and have played some good hockey against us,” Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer said. “I thought we did some good things though and found a way to win.”
Moore notched the lone goal in the tiebreaker, taking Jose Theodore out wide and slipping one through the five hole in the fourth round of the shootout.
Roloson ended it after stoning former Lightning playoff hero Sean Bergenheim, as well as each of Florida’s first three shooters.
“We gave it to them,” Panthers forward Kris Versteeg said. “We let them come back in the game. They made a couple good plays, but we let them back in the game.”
A pair of goals just 1:26 apart towards the end of the second period brought the Lightning from three goals down to just one.
First, a second effort by Malone amidst a scrum in front of the net cut the deficit to two on the power play. Stamkos then made it 3-2 off a nice play from Matt Gilroy, who spun off a defender to avoid pressure and sent a low feed down to Stamkos, who put it past Theodore at 17:46.
Stamkos now has nine goals in the past 10 games. He is now tied with Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the league lead.
The Lightning completed the comeback from three goals down after a wild scramble in front of Theodore at 8:11 of the final frame. With Theodore on the ice, Purcell’s attempt pinballed off both posts and Florida forward Scottie Upshall’s skate before it crossed the line.
“For 35 minutes we played a really solid game,” Florida head coach Kevin Dineen said. “We fell off for the last five of the second, but we picked it back up and I liked a lot of our third period and then it just turned into the Wild West there at the end.”
The manner in which Sunday’s contest ended eerily resembled the way the game started for the Panthers.
Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Mike Santorelli each had goals for the Panthers.
Florida, now losers in three straight, wasted no time opening the scoring to take an early 1-0 lead.
With Vincent Lecavalier sent off to the penalty box just over a minute into the game for hooking, Campbell took a feed in the high slot and roofed it past Garon at 1:49 on the power play.
Of the 10 power-play goals given up by Tampa Bay this season, eight have come by the Panthers.
Kopecky doubled the lead at 13:05 after finishing off an odd-man rush with as Jack Skille, who set up the Panthers forward as he was coming out of the penalty box.
Garon, despite winning three of his past four starts, was making his first appearance in net since Oct. 27 at Nashville. After allowing two goals in the first 13 minutes, it appeared the long layover had the Lightning goaltender off his game.
Florida’s third goal of the period came from Santorelli off a turnover by Malone, ultimately chasing Garon from net in favor of Roloson.
“We made a few mistakes and they capitalized on them,” Tampa Bay assistant coach Martin Raymond said. “They are a good team and they have a lot skill and a lot of experience. We just can’t afford to have an opening period like that, plain and simple.”
Garon finished the night with nine saves on 12 shots.
After Florida outshot Tampa Bay 16-9 in the first period, Roloson settled things down, as the Panthers managed to merely match the Lightning in shots in each of the next two periods. He made a spectacular save on Stephen Weiss in the final seconds of overtime as the Panthers forward skated in all alone in front.
“Once we regrouped, we didn’t get too desperate,” Brewer added. “We knew if were patient we could create some chances, so we went from there and came out with a win tonight.”
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