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Panthers learn no lead is safe against the Lightning

Wayne Masut | Senior Staff Photographer

Coming off one of their best November’s in team history (20 pts), the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to keep it going in December. Tonight they headed down to Sunrise to face their instate rival the Florida Panthers. Both teams faced the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the week, a Sabres team with a 10 game winning streak. Thursday night in a high scoring affair the Bolts won 5-4, the following night the Panthers beat them 3-2 in overtime.

So far the Tampa Bay Lightning have gotten the better of the Florida Panthers through two games this season. On opening night the Panthers headed to Amalie Arena, and left losing not only starting goalie Roberto Luongo, but the game 2-1 in a shoot-out. Just about a month and a half later the Panthers would head to Tampa again, Luongo would once again leave the game. Unlike opening night his removal wasn’t due to injury, he was lifted for James Reimer after allowing six goals to the Bolts in a 7-3 loss. Tampa came into the game tonight winners of five out of seven, Florida has won three out of their last seven.

Domingue filling in nicely

While on a road trip in mid November, Lightning fans hearts nearly exploded. On the 13th of the month the Lightning were in Buffalo to start a four game road trip. News came out the Bolts starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had fractured his foot. Most fans weren’t sure how things were going to work out. People knew Louis Domingue following his callup last season in which he went 7-3-1, making backup Peter Budaj expendable. Since they injury Domingue has gone 6-3 for the Lightning. At this point most experts said Vasilevskiy could miss 18 games, well this is the ninth 10th game since they injury. Most were hoping Domingue could win 10 games, looks like he could win a few more, before Vasilevskiy returns.

A quick 55 seconds

The first ten minutes or so of the game was relatively quite, that all changed just past the mid way point. Two defensive miscues allowed Frank Vatrano and Aleksander Barkov to put the Panthers up 2-0 in an 11 second span. A little over 45 seconds later Alex Killorn would get the Lightning on the board to make it 2-1. The passing that led to Killorn’s goal was nothing short of spectacular.  Through the first 20 minutes, the Lightning out shot the Panthers 12-3.

Florida scoring continues

While Domingue has played well during Vasilevskiy’s injury, it is starting to appear he needs a break. Through two periods the Lightning netminder has allowed four goals on 11 shots. As was stated earlier this is Domingue’s 10th game in a row. Just over two minutes into the second period, Mikhail Sergachev who had over eight minutes of ice time in the first period, made a turnover that allowed Jonathan Huberdeau to give the Panthers back their two goal lead. Almost six minutes later the Panthers would strike on the power play, with JT Miller serving a too many men penalty and Victor Hedman in the box as well for delay of game. Evgenii Dadonov would notch his 12th goal of the season. Connor Ingram the current back up, one would think he gets the start Monday against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Joseph notches number 6

The young rookie continues to impress in his first season with the Lightning. At the 13:00 mark of the second Mathieu Joseph would take a beautiful pass from Sergachev to cut the Panthers lead to 4-2. Bolts forward Nikita Kucherov would also get an assist on the goal to extend his point streak to nine games. The future is bright for Joseph who continues to impress everyone with his speed and scoring ability. Kucherov would add his 11th goal of the season and fifth on the power play late in the second period to get the Lightning to within one goal.

Paquette continues hot season

Cedric Paquette continues to his hot start to the season, although credited with the goal it went off the skate of a Panther. While Paquette had what seemed to be shot after shot on Reimer, the puck went off Dryden Hunt. Take nothing away from that, Paquette continues to provide the Lightning with scoring from the fourth line. When making a deep run into the playoffs, fourth line scoring is so important. The goal matches his second best season total of his career, while beating his season total of five from a season ago.

Point adds the exclamation point

With Paquette’s goal tying the game, neither team could get the game winner before time expired in the 3rd. Florida would get the opening face-off in OT, but after a Vatrano interference penalty the Lightning would strike. With head coach Jon Cooper sending out four forwards for the man advantage, Brayden Point would notch his 19th goal of the season in overcoming a 4-1 deficit to win the game.

Three Stars of the Game

3rd Star: Cedric Paquette – Ties it up for his 6th of the season

2nd Star: Nikita Kucherov – Extended his point streak to nine games with a 1g-1a performance.

1st Star: Brayden Point – OT game winner for his 19th goal of the season

Up Next

The Lightning travel to NJ for a match up with the Devils on Monday, before heading to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Tuesday.

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