Tampa Bay wrapped up their three game swing with a shootout win over the Florida Panthers, 4-3, tonight at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise tonight.
That win topped some of the strongest hockey the Lightning have played in a while; taking Ottawa to a shootout, beating Toronto decisively and tonight, rallying past the Panthers for a victory.
The Lightning fell behind 2-0, after centerman Michael Frolik and Panther leading goal scorer David Booth tallied. Booth ended the evening with three points collected on two goals and an assist.
Frolik’s goal, off a pass from Booth at 15:49 of period one, was the only score for either squad in the first stanza. He beat Karri Ramo, Tampa Bay’s netminder, with a shot from the high slot. The Panthers outshot Tampa Bay 15-5 in the period.
With Lukas Krajicek in the penalty box for hooking late in the second period, Booth got the first of his two goals on the night when he picked up a rebound in front of the crease and fired the puck past Ramo at 17:11 to open a two-goal advantage for Florida.
The Lightning began to work their way back into contention just over a minute later when Cory Murphy scored his fifth goal of the season on a power play with Ville Peltonen off the ice for tripping. Murphy’s goal, his second in three games, was assisted by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos.
The Lightning headed for the locker room after two, outshot by the Panthers 26- 12, but trailing on the scoreboard by only one goal, 2-1.
Early in period three, the Panthers opened up a two goal advantage when Booth got his second goal, and third point, of the night when he knocked home a rebound of a shot by Stephen Weiss. While the two goal lead in period three might have once seemed impenetrable, the Lightning have lately made a habit of battling back from deficits, and were about to do so again.
Of course tonight, they waited till just over six minutes remained in the game before they initiated the comeback.
And it was the team’s leading scorer, Martin St. Louis, who got it going. With Tampa Bay keeping the pressure on in the Panther zone, St. Louis deflected a shot from the blueline by Lukas Krajicek and re-directed the puck past Panther goaltender Tomas Vokoun. The score was St. Louis’ 26th of the season and newcomer Richard Petiot was credited with an assist, his first as a member of the Lightning.
Less than three minutes later, Petiot got his second point of the night when he picked up the puck along the side boards and centered the puck to a waiting Jeff Halpern in the slot. Halpern didn’t miss, and his fifth goal of the season, also assisted by Vaclav Prospal, tied the score at 3-3.
After nothing was decided in the 4-on-4 overtime period, the game went to a shootout in which Ramo shut down Panther shooters Stillman, Booth and Frolik while Lightning forward Steven Stamkos deked to his backhand and beat Vokoun for the game winner.
Ramo skated off the ice with his second consecutive win, having stopped 34 of 37 shots that the Panthers put on net. The Lightning were outshot 37-27, but Cory Murphy led all skaters with a remarkable seven shots on net.
"This says a lot about the character of this team going forward," Tampa Bay center Jeff Halpern said. "We never gave up and kept coming at them and coming at them. It's a big win for us and a tough one for them because they need the points."
The Lightning head home now, looking to continue to play the spoiler role when they meet Toronto, Washington, Atlanta and Columbus during the four-game homestand.
1 - 0 FLA
2 - 0 FLA
Martin St. Louis
2 - 1 FLA
3 - 1 FLA
Martin St. Louis
3 - 2 FLA