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Frenzied sunshine state showdown sees Lightning steal away a win

As always, the in-state showdown does not fail to entertain with Tampa Bay sneaking away with the 5-3 victory despite being out played. If Andrei Vasilevskiy was not in net this game would have easily gone to the Panthers. Lightning were out-played numerous times as the game went on with staying out of the penalty box proved to be difficult. Offense of the Panthers kept the pressure on the defense all game long, but the Lightning were able to regroup and come out with a crucial win against one of the best teams in the league.


Making an early statement

It only took twenty seconds into the game for the scoring to start. A clearing attempt by Erik Cernak was successful and picked up by Steven Stamkos. Stamkos then tried to pass the puck to Brandon Hagel, but it bounced off Brandon Montour and went past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Bolts an early 1-0 lead. Later on, Matt Dumba is called for rouging giving the Panthers the first power play of the game. Florida has the second-best power play in the league so preventing a goal will not be particularly easy. Despite a couple of good shots on the man-advantage the Panthers could not score, and the penalty kill got the job done for the Lightning. Florida continued applying the pressure as the puck stayed in Tampa’s zone for longer than they would like.


So far so good

As the period went on scoring chances occurred less with defensive play taking over on both ends of the ice. With about seven minutes to go in the period Tampa extended their lead. Mike Eyssimont had a breakaway opportunity and made sure to captivate on it. His initial shot was saved by Bobrovski but he was able to tap in the rebound for the 2-0 lead. Soon after the goal Lightning went on the power play for the first time after a slashing call. The power play was short lived after Nikita Kucherov is given a double minor for high-sticking. In the same sequence Sam Reinhart tripped Kucherov which caused Kucherov’s stick to hit him high.

Have to stay out of the box

Panthers would have 34 seconds on the power play after some 4-on-4 hockey, but no damage was done. Penalties continued to pile up with Nick Perbix sent off for delay of game late in the period. Once again, penalty kill was successful, and the score remained 2-0. Lightning are thankful to have killed off every penalty to this point but could not rely on that as the game went on. Team has to play smarter to keep the Panthers lethal power play off the ice and control the flow of the game.

The goal that was not a goal

Second period did not start off nearly as quick as the first did. Sloppy control of the puck continued to occur for the Lightning which gave Florida every chance to get on the board. Momentum at this point was with the home team but that did not bother the Bolts as Darren Raddysh scored to extend the lead 3-0. Florida quickly answered back with a goal from Kevin Stenlund. The goal was scored after Tampa once again failed to clear the puck. However, the goal was then taken off the board due to Dimitri Kulikov being ejected for a hit to the head on Conor Sheary. Eyssimont was also given a minor, but Lightning remained on the power play due to all the penalties called on Kulikov.

Inexcusable short-handed blunder

As the power play went on Florida coughed up another penalty to give the Lightning a 5-on-3 power play. Tampa scored quickly with Stamkos scoring his second of the game to extend the lead 4-0. Not much was going on the power play until then, but Lightning would give up a terrible shorthanded goal as the major penalty was expiring. Matthew Tkachuk scored on a 3-on-1 opportunity to get the home team on the board. Lightning were too greedy and that allowed the Panthers to cut the lead 4-1.

Penalties keep piling up

With 9:29 left in the period Panthers went on the power play for the fifth time tonight. This time Panthers captivate on the power play. Reinhart scores to cut the lead 4-2 and the Lightning really need to stay out of the box and play more effectively in the offensive zone. Minutes later Lightning gave up another penalty giving the Panthers a good chance to make it a one goal game. On said power play Panthers would get their chance at 5-on-3 play with Matt Dumba set off for slashing. This was not a great period at all for the Lightning despite leading 4-0 earlier in the period. Lightning maintained the lead with the Panthers continuing to out play them. 

Panthers hold the momentum

Panthers continued to carry momentum in the early minutes of the third period. Play on ice begin to quiet down a bit with the home team generating the better chances in the offensive zone. It is amazing how the score remains 4-2 with how many shots are getting on Andrei Vasilevskiy. Panthers went on the power play for a seventh time tonight with just over 12 minutes to go. Finally, Lightning went on the man-advantage after four straight power plays for the Panthers.

Rough night ends on a high note

No dice on that power play for Tampa and the score remained 4-2 with about half the period to go. Then, with 6:25 to go Lightning again had another chance on the power play. Lightning came up empty handed and then gave up another goal. Reinhart scored on an empty net to pull the Panthers within one. Panthers also pulled Bobrovsky following the goal to keep the pressure on the Bolts defense. Nikita Kucherov scored his 40th goal of the season on the empty net to give the Lightning a 5-3 lead with a minute and change left. Despite playing rather poorly as the night went on, Tampa escapes with the 5-3 victory against their in-state rivals. Next on the schedule is a trip to Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights.

Three stars of the game

1st star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Saved 47 of 50 shots faced

2nd star: Steven Stamkos – 2 goals and 2 assists

3rd Star: Sam Reinhart – 2 goals

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