If there was any consolation to Tuesday night’s loss at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, it was that the Tampa Bay Lightning still earned a point in the standings even in defeat.
Alex Killorn’s goal at 10:32 of the third period culminated a Lightning rally from two goals down in the final frame, and although it sent the contest into overtime, the Bolts couldn’t collect the additional point as the home team fell 3-2 in a shootout to the in-state rival Florida Panthers.
“As it went on, I felt like we had a better chance to win the game,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “We got stronger as the game went on, and I told the guys that if we play like that consistently, we will win more games than we’ll lose.”
Tom Pyatt had the other goal for the Lightning, which saw their two-game win streak come to an end, but which also gained at least a point in a fifth straight contest at home.
Florida won its third consecutive game, with each of those, including Tuesday night’s contest, coming in extra time in either overtime or the shootout.
Peter Mueller notched the game-winner with the lone goal in the shootout, snapping a sharp wrist shot past Garon for the win.
Tomas Kopecky and Greg Rallo also had goals in regulation for the Panthers, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 39 of 41 shots on the night and an additional two attempts in the shootout.
Defenseman TJ Brennan chipped in a pair of helpers in the victory.
“We knew they were going to come hard, because we were up two goals and they didn’t have a choice,” Markstrom said. “I got great help from the guys. They did a hell of a job out there.”
With the Panthers leading by a pair of goals with just over 14 minutes to play in regulation, the Lightning received a late surge that quickly erased the deficit and brought them right back to within striking distance as well as in line to get the win.
Tampa Bay knotted things up at two goals apiece midway through the frame after a rebound took a fortuitous bounce off the end boards and landed in front of Killorn, who flipped a backhand above Markstrom to tie it 2-2.
The tying goal came just 4:54 after Pyatt cut the deficit to one just five minutes into the final frame with a nice tip-in of Purcell’s cross-ice feed past the Florida netminder.
“It’s a tough one to lose,” Pyatt said. “We came back and I thought we did some really good things out there. I thought we deserved better.”
Kopecky got the Panthers on the board first when he beat Garon with a wrist shot at 8:36 while on the power play to open the game’s scoring.
Gallo doubled Florida’s advantage also while on the man advantage late in the second period, as a wrist shot from above the right circle got past Garon at 16:41 to make it 2-0.
With the team’s tied up 2-2 after 60 minutes, the overtime period solved nothing, as both Markstrom and Garon were equal to the task until the final horn signaled for the shootout.
“To me, he was the player of the game,” Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said. “They had some quality opportunities and some quality shots, but Markstrom stood tall when we needed him.”