SUNRISE, Fla. – After a pair of lead changes and an early third period goal to tie the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning were unable to hold off the in-state rival Florida Panthers on Monday night. As the teams opened a home-and-home series the Lightning fell to the Panthers, 4-3, on a late marker by David Booth.
Meeting for the third time this season, Tampa Bay took an early lead with the opening score in the contest.
Playing with a 4-on-3 man advantage, Martin St. Louis connected for his third goal of the season. After Michel Ouellet fed Brad Richards with a pass at the middle of the blue line, Richards dished the puck to Vincent Lecavalier at the right faceoff circle. St. Louis connected on the rebound of Lecavalier’s slap shot, tipping the puck over goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
The Panthers responded less than three minutes later, converting with the man advantage to tie the game at one. As Ville Peltonen passed the puck across the slot to Olli Jokinen the Florida captain flicked a shot from the right faceoff circle. With Peltonen banging at goaltender Johan Holmqvist for a rebound attempt the puck bounced off defenseman Filip Kuba and into the net.
Florida posted their second consecutive power play goal with 4:34 remaining in the opening frame to take their first lead of the night. With Jan Hlavac serving a penalty for tripping, defenseman Cory Murphy paused before firing a rising slap shot from the right point. Peltonen tipped the puck down at the left of Holmqvist to post his third goal of the season.
As the Lightning looked to tie the game late in the period, Hlavac fought for the puck and backhanded it out to Doug Janik at the blue line. Janik put a slap shot on Vokoun but the Panthers netminder cradled the shot for the save.
Early in the second period Hlavac combined with Ouellet to put pressure on Florida. Although Hlavac missed the net on an initial shot from the bottom of the slot, Ouellet got a second chance in front. With players fighting for position at the top of the crease the puck bounced out to Ouellet who fired a quick snap shot on Vokoun.
A Holmqvist save minutes later resulted in an up-ice rush and the tying goal. After the Lightning netminder denied Peltonen on a slap shot and Jokinen failed to get a stick on the rebound, play moved back into Tampa Bay’s offensive zone. Scoring his first goal of the season, defenseman Brad Lukowich tied the game at two with the first even strength goal of the contest.
Doing much of the legwork on the play, Jason Ward fought for possession of the puck off the left side boards. Ward made a pass to Lukowich at the blue line where the Lightning defender slapped a shot on goal. The puck slipped past three players on the way to the net before beating Vokoun to the glove side.
Despite the score the Panthers tied the goal a mere 18 seconds later when Steve Montador notched his first goal through five games. With an odd-man rush developing off the faceoff, Montador flicked the puck high to the glove side on Holmqvist from the right circle.
After breaking up a series of Panthers attempts with a little more than six minutes remaining in the third, Lecavalier looked to tie the game on a breakaway. Vaclav Prospal fed Lecavalier with a long outlet pass as he skated into the zone, but Vokoun came up with a stick save on the wrist shot.
Playing with a five-minute man advantage late in the second period, the Panthers were unable to find the net behind Holmqvist. With Nick Tarnasky assessed a major for boarding, Murphy was denied on a screened shot from the blue line. Moments later Holmqvist shut down Richard Zednik as he charged into the zone for a shot in the slot.
Less than four minutes into the final period Ouellet posted his fourth goal of the season to tie the game at three. From the right side boards Prospal dropped a pass down to Lecavalier in the corner. Lecavalier skated the puck behind the net and dished the puck to the crease where Ouellet banged the puck under Vokoun’s left leg.
For the second time this season Ouellet has scored twice in consecutive games. Ouellet has recorded four goals in his previous seven games.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the contest St. Louis looked to tie the game as the Lightning skated on the power play. Keeping the puck in the zone, Richards snapped a shot on goal from the point as St. Louis worked his way to the crease. St. Louis tried to make the tip in front but Vokoun closed his legs on the shot.
Although Tampa Bay went on to out-shoot Florida 11-6 in the final period, Booth connected with the game winding down to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead and the win. Re-directing a shot by Ruslan Salei, Booth posted his second goal of the season.
The Panthers out-shot the Lightning 30-27 in the contest, as Holmqvist made 26 saves in the decision. Lecavalier and Richards finished the contest with a team-high six shots each.
Lecavalier posted two assists in the contest, picking up his fifth helper in two games. The Lightning center has recorded points in six of his previous seven games, scoring three goals and totaling 10 points.
Tampa Bay out-hit Florida 24-16 in the contest with Ouellet picking up a team-leading five hits.
The Lightning scored once with the man advantage while the Panthers went 2-for-4 to win their second game through three match-ups between the teams. Both Florida wins have been posted on Panthers home ice.
Both teams will make their way to Tampa Bay to close out their home-and-home series on Wednesday, November 7 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) at the St. Pete Times Forum. The game marks the second of four match-ups between the clubs at Tampa Bay this season.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 FLA
2 - 2 Tie
Mike Van Ryn
3 - 2 FLA
3 - 3 Tie