It’s always good to get home and for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the end of their current five game road odyssey could not have come too soon as the Lightning dropped a decision to their cross-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, by a score of 4-0 in Sunrise.
Although Tampa Bay produced only four shots on goal in the opening period, several were quality scoring chances, particularly when forward Chris Gratton drove to the net, took a pass from Ryan Craig and managed a shot from just outside the Panther crease. Craig Anderson, making his second consecutive start for Florida, was able to deflect the puck wide.
Mike Smith, at the other end of the ice, in net for the Lightning, saw much more action as the Panthers fired eight shots on net in the opening period.
Smith was equal to everything the Panthers could throw at him until Bryan McCabe, winding up from just inside the Lightning blue line, blasted the puck over his glove into the upper corner of the net.
The 1-0 deficit stood for the remainder of the period.
While the initial period had no penalty calls, in the second, it appeared as if the penalty box had a revolving door. It was rarely empty, as a total of six infractions were called, starting with a hooking call on Bolt defenseman Steve Eminger, just 35 seconds into the stanza.
Skating a man short, Mike Lundin tried to clear the puck from the Lightning zone but Panther forward Nathan Horton intercepted the pass and fired the puck into the Tampa Bay net from between the face off circles to increase the Florida advantage to 2-0.
Late in the period the Panthers got another power play goal when Gregory Campbell blasted a slap shot from the point while Lukas Krajicek was off for hooking. The goal extended the Panther lead to three.
The Lightning, meanwhile, could not score on six extra man advantages, including four in the final period.
Campbell wrapped up the scoring for the contest when he netted his second goal of the night while standing alone in front of Smith, just outside the crease. The even strength goal came while the Bolts were about to be penalized again, but the score caused the delayed penalty to be waved off.
Smith stopped 27 of 31 shots he faced, while Anderson was perfect, handling all 24 shots the Lightning put on his net. The shutout was Anderson’s first of the season.
Adam Hall led the Lightning in shots on goal with four while Vaclav Prospal produced four hits to lead the Bolts in that department.
The Lightning wrap up the five game trip with a 1-3-1 record and hope to pick up the momentum again when they return home. Awaiting them in Tampa, however, are the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings.
Still, for the Bolts, it will be good to get home.