During a penalty-filled contest in which each team skated with eight power play opportunities, the Panthers got off to an early start on Nathan Horton’s third goal of the season.
Skating with the man advantage, Horton opened the scoring only 2:33 into the first period. After collecting the puck at the top left faceoff circle, the fourth-year winger flipped a wrist shot into the top shelf over the left-hand glove of Johan Holmqvist.
Within minutes the Panthers gained a 2-0 lead on a goal by Ruslan Salei. Seconds after a penalty to defenseman Filip Kuba expired, Salei tipped a low shot past Holmqvist for his first goal of the season.
Despite the deficit and the string of penalties, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier put together a quick play to test Florida netminder Tomas Vokoun. After breaking up a play in the Panthers zone, St. Louis fed Lecavalier with an outlet pass as the Lightning killed off a minor penalty. Lecavalier streaked towards the net and moved to the backhand at the top of the crease, but was unable to lift the shot over Vokoun’s left pad.
With Vokoun holding Tampa Bay off the board, Stephen Weiss connected to give the Panthers a three goal lead with 1:03 remaining in the period.
Although the Lightning opened the second period with a 5-on-3 man advantage, Florida built a four-goal lead only 2:34 into the frame. With Ville Peltonen firing a one-timer off a pass by Olli Jokinen, Richard Zednik re-directed a low shot past Holmqvist.
With the Florida score prompting a goaltending change between the pipes for Tampa Bay, the Lightning immediately picked up the pressure and began digging for the comeback.
Only 24 seconds after the Zednik goal, Roy connected for his first goal of the season. After Craig MacDonald collected the puck deep in the left corner, he made a pass to Roy at the front of the net. The Lightning winger banged the puck past Vokoun for the score.
Roy would later collect a strong chance for Tampa Bay as he skated across the blueline and fired a slap shot from a few feet inside the zone. Vokoun was called upon to make a quick left pad save on the shot, stopping one of the 17 Lightning shots he faced during the second period.
Late in the period Denis denied Zednik as the Panthers winger skated hard into the zone. With Denis playing the shooter outside of his crease, he stopped both the initial shot and rebound attempt that Zednik put on goal.
Denis was unable to hold the Panthers at bay early in the third period however, as they connected with a 5-on-3 man advantage. Jokinen placed a shot through traffic on the play, finding Jozef Stumpel at the side of the net for the re-directed shot.
Despite the deficit, the Lightning needed only 2:53 to post three goals and bring the score within one, 5-4.
Prospal started the third period onslaught by notching his fourth goal of the season. After Brad Richards made a pass to Lecavalier from the left to right faceoff circles, Lecavalier dished the puck down to Prospal at the side of Vokoun. Prospal tipped the shot from in front, posting his first goal of the night and 150th of his career.
The Lightning winger added his second goal of the evening a mere 2:09 later. Lecavalier picked up his second assist of the night, passing ahead to Kuba in the slot. Kuba tipped the puck up to Prospal as he was charging toward the net, where he put a shot through the five-hole of Vokoun.
With his two goals in the contest, Prospal posted his second multi-goal game of the season. After connecting 14 times during the 2006-07 campaign and having no games with more than one goal, Prospal ranks amongst the league leaders with five goals through four games.
At 8:44 of the third, only 44 seconds after Prospal’s second of the night, Hlavac scored his first goal in a Lightning uniform to bring the game within one. After fighting for the puck along the back boards, Richards passed the puck out to Hlavac at the left of Vokoun. Hlavac directed a shot into the side of the net for the score.
The goal was the first for Hlavac after a three-year absence from the NHL. The Czech native last scored on March 12, 2004 as a member of the New York Rangers, netting a goal against Tampa Bay.
Despite pulling within one, the Lightning were unable to hold off the Panthers late in the period. Capitalizing on their second 5-on-3 of the night, Jokinen put a slapshot into the top right corner of Denis’ net.
With one goal and two assists in the contest, Jokinen continued his success against the Lightning. The Florida captain has recorded 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) through 43 career games against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning out-shot the Panthers 44-28 in the contest, including 17-6 during the second period, forcing Vokoun to make 40 saves for his second win of the season. Denis stopped 11 of 13 shots faced through his first 23:09 minutes of action this season. St. Louis led all skaters with eight shots, and linemate Prospal added seven shot through 60 minutes of play.
Tampa Bay also out-hit Florida 16-7 in the contest. Roy finished the night with a team-leading three hits in addition to his goal and +1 rating through 7:23 of ice time.
Richards and Lecavalier each posted two assists in the contest, and Lecavalier and Prospal are now tied for the team lead with six points through four games.
Tampa Bay continues their two-game road trip on Thursday, October 18 (7:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) against the Boston Bruins. The teams are set to meet for the first of four match-ups this season before Tampa Bay returns home for a game against the Atlanta Thrashers.
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