SUNRISE, Fla. – Nick Tarnasky and Brad Richards each posted a pair of goals on Saturday night, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory against the Florida Panthers. As the Lightning won their third game of the season against their division rivals, the clubs skated in the fifth of eight meetings in the season series.
Jan Hlavac added the fifth Tampa Bay goal and both Martin St. Louis and Craig MacDonald picked up a pair of assists in the contest.
Jan Hlavac, center, watches the puck along with the Panthers Nathan Horton (16) and Ruslan Salei (24) during the second period of the Lightning's 5-3 win at Sunrise, Fla. on Saturday. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Although Olli Jokinen opened the scoring less than a minute into the game, the Lightning went on to score four unanswered goals through the middle of the third period. Posting his 21st goal of the season 38 seconds into the game, Jokinen gave the Panthers the early lead.
Defenseman Bryan Allen kept the puck in the zone at the left point before throwing a shot towards the net. As the puck deflected off Richard Zednik’s skate, Jokinen followed up the rebound with a shot from the right hash marks. The puck beat goaltender Johan Holmqvist to the right side of the net.
As Tampa Bay looked to tie the game Chris Gratton carried the puck into the zone before passing back to Kyle Wanvig at the right faceoff circle. Wanvig fired a shot through traffic but Tomas Vokoun covered the puck on the play.
St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier continued to pressure the Florida netminder on an odd-man rush as St. Louis dished the puck across the zone to Lecavalier from the left wing. Lecavalier dragged his left toe before snapping off a shot that was blocked by a right pad save.
At the opposite end of the ice Nathan Horton broke down the right wing on a partial breakaway as Paul Ranger tried to hold off the Panthers center. Holmqvist poke-checked the puck as Horton moved to the backhand in front of the net and Stephen Weiss shot the puck wide on the rebound.
Tying the game at one at 10:39 of the period, Tarnasky recorded his second goal of the season. After Tarnasky dumped the puck into the zone MacDonald collected the puck behind the net. MacDonald centered a pass to the front of the crease where Tarnasky banged a shot to the short side.
With Jay Bouwmeester called for holding late in the first, the Lightning began the middle frame on the power play. Capitalizing moments after the man-advantage opportunity, Jan Hlavac connected for this seventh goal of the season.
As Gratton gained control of the puck at the right side boards he slid a pass a few feet up to Jason Ward. With Hlavac cutting to the front of the crease Ward put a shot on net. Hlavac popped the rebound to the right of Vokoun as he sprawled in his crease, notching his seventh goal of the season.
Johan Holmqvist dives to stop a shot on goal by Florida's Nathan Horton in the first period. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
A mere 66 seconds later Tarnasky posted his second goal of the night to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead. En route to recording his third goal of the season Tarnasky gained control of the puck at the left hash marks. Spinning around to fire a low shot on goal the Lightning center beat Vokoun to the stick side.
The goal gave Tarnasky his first career multi-goal game.
Midway through the period Lecavalier was held off by a glove save on a wrist shot from the right point before Holmqvist came up with a big save against Zednik. When Radek Dvorak passed the puck out front from behind the net Zednik put a quick shot on Holmqvist. The Lightning netminder covered the puck in the crease to keep the Panthers off the board.
With one minute remaining in the frame Jokinen tried to post his second goal of the night as he fired a one-time shot from the left faceoff circle. Holmqvist gloved the puck on the play to retain the two-goal lead.
Tampa Bay held Florida to four shots in the middle frame before the Panthers tried to make a comeback in the third. A pair of goals by Richards held off the attempt, giving the Lightning their third win of the season against the Panthers.
One minute into the final period Dvorak skated against Holmqvist on a shorthanded breakaway. As Dvorak fired off a wrist shot deep in the slot Holmqvist closed off the five-hole and got the paddle of his stick to the ice for the save.
Extending the lead to three goals Richards converted a late power play to post his 12th goal of the season. When a Lecavalier shot deflected off St. Louis’ skates and deep into the zone, Vaclav Prospal fed a puck out to Richards at the point. Richards slapped a shot from the top of the slot to beat Vokoun high to the glove side.
Minutes later David Booth brought the Panthers within two, 4-2. Tipping a shot that Jassen Cullimore put on net from the left point, Booth deflected the puck up and over Holmqvist’s right shoulder for the score.
Although Brett McLean went on to add his fourth of the season with 1:29 remaining in the game, Richards recorded an empty-net goal to close out the scoring.
Tampa Bay went 1-for-3 on the power play while holding Florida scoreless through one man-advantage opportunity. The Panthers out-shot the Lightning 30-25 in the contest. Lecavalier led all skaters with five shots on goal.
Making his 32nd start of the season, Holmqvist made 27 saves to pull one game above .500. The Tampa Bay goalie improved to 3-1-0 against Florida this season.
Saturday’s contest also marked the 500th career game for defenseman Filip Kuba.
Following up the one-game trip to Florida the Lightning return to the St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday, January 15 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) to face off against the Colorado Avalanche. The game marks the lone meeting between the two clubs this season.
1 - 0 FLA
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 TBL
3 - 1 TBL
Martin St. Louis
4 - 1 TBL
4 - 2 TBL
4 - 3 TBL
Martin St. Louis