1 2 3 T
Tampa Bay Lightning TBL 2 0 1 3
13 SHOTS 39
40 HITS 20
8 PIM 4
1/2 PP 0/4

Lightning 3, Panthers 2

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 10:59 PM

Leave it to the National Hockey League's leading goal scorer to get the Tampa Bay Lightning back on the winning track.

Steven Stamkos' power-play goal at 5:30 of the final period snapped a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner, as the Lightning defeated the in-state rival Florida Panthers 3-2 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on Tuesday night.

The goal was Stamkos' 20th of the season, marking the fifth consecutive season the Lightning forward has reached that plateau.

Martin St. Louis also scored and had three points, while Vincent Lecavalier recorded a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay, which snapped a two-game losing streak and won its second road contest in as many tries.

Alex Killorn added two assists in the victory.

Anders Lindback made 37 saves to improve to 4-0-0 in his career against the Panthers.

The defeat was the fourth straight for Florida, which got goals from Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky.

After falling behind 2-0, Kopecky tied it at 2-2 with 8:36 to go in the second period.

Jack Skille got the play started when he stripped Nate Thompson of the puck and found Kopecky, who slipped his 11th of the season under Lindback to pull the Panthers even.

It would be the final blemish of Lindback's performance on the night, as he was strong down the stretch and made a fantastic save on a breakaway by Shawn Matthias that would have tied the game in the final minutes of regulation.

That same momentum displayed by Lindback late seemed to have carried over from the start of the contest, when he held Florida scoreless through the first 20 minutes despite having his team outshot 17-3 in the first period.

At one point, after two periods, the Panthers held a 30-6 advantage in shots over Tampa Bay.

"Since the beginning of the year we knew he was a good goaltender," Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of Lindback. "This game was a huge progression for him. That's terrific."

Lecavalier opened the scoring at just 1:36 of the opening frame after taking a no-look backhand pass from St. Louis and burying a shot past Jacob Markstrom for a 1-0 lead.

St. Louis then doubled the advantage with 2:12 remaining in the frame when he received a pass from Killorn, who pulled Markstrom out of the crease, and sending a shot into the open net to make it 2-0.

"It was nice to have a lead after that opening period," Lecavalier said. "I thought we made some good plays and it paid off."

Markstrom finished the night with 10 saves, as the Lightning recorded a season-low 13 shots on goal throughout the contest.

Versteeg helped cut the deficit in half just 13 seconds into the middle frame, beating Lindback after he drifted from the net following a missed pass that was whiffed by Sami Salo.

Versteeg would later leave the game in the third period after absorbing a collision with Lightning rookie defenseman

Radko Gudas, who making his NHL debut, raced Vertseeg for the puck before incidentally making contact with the Panthers forward's knee.

Florida made a run at a comeback late in the game with Markstrom on the bench in favor of the extra attacker, but didn't muster much, as Stamkos nearly netted his second of the night into an empty net that hit the side of the cage.

The victory also allowed Tampa Bay to pad its lead over its division rival to three points, as the Lightning continue to pursue both Winnipeg and Carolina at the top of the Southeast Division standings.

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