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Tkachuk Upends Bolts in Key Division Matchup

The Tampa Bay Lightning came out of the All-Star Break lifeless and the Florida Panthers took advantage. In a key Atlantic Division match-up, Florida defeated the Bolts, 7-1, in front of a home crowd still energized from hosting the annual All-Star Weekend.

Matthew Tkachuk led the Panthers with a 5-point night, scoring twice and picking up three assists.  Carter Verhaeghe had a huge night also, scoring four points on two goals and two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 33 shots, keeping the Bolts frustrated most of the night.

Tampa Bay struggled defensively all evening. Lightning star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy also had an off-night, uncharacteristically making an unforced error leading to a goal.

The Bolts gave the puck away at poor times and Florida used the turnovers to create scoring chances.

The Lightning offense sputtered often during the game and never found their groove. Any momentum they could muster was stifled quickly by Bobrovsky and the Panther defense. The Bolts were outshot, 49-33.

Tampa Bay’s lone goal came in the second period from forward Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov picked up his 20th goal of the season to cut the Panther’s two-goal lead in half.

The Panthers would be unfazed, however, as Tkachuk would score his first minutes later. Florida would then pull away.

Tkachuk Continues to Roll

Matthew Tkachuk spent the weekend earning a car as the MVP of the All Star Game. He took that momentum into Monday night with a stellar performance. His 5-point night was one of the best of his career.

The Panthers returned from the break three points out of the playoff race and needed a win against state and division rival Tampa Bay. Florida led throughout and never relented as they picked up two points they desperately needed.

Aleksander Barkov missed a good portion of the game due to an injury. Despite losing Barkov to a puck hitting off his hand, Florida continued to gain momentum against the Bolts.

No Time To Lament for Bolts

The seven goals given up by Vasilevskiy was the largest of his career and the second time this season Tampa Bay has been scored on that much. Goalie Brian Elliot gave up seven again Detroit earlier this season.

“I thought their will to win was a little bit stronger than ours was tonight,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “They seemed to be okay and we weren’t.”

“It was too easy a night for them in our own zone. Hence, the result happened.”

The Bolts need to learn and move forward as they hustle back to Tampa to host the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.

“My concern is not about tonight. My concern is about tomorrow,” Cooper continued. “Let’s see how we respond. This one’s over. Games like this don’t happen often to us.”

“I’ll be really interested to see how we come out tomorrow.”

Three Stars of the Game

Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers. Two goals, three assists. An All Star Game MVP and a share of a million dollars for winning the game with the Atlantic Division teammates. It’s been a great last few days for the star forward.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers. Stopping 32 of 33 shots, Bobrovsky never gave Tampa Bay a chance to play their game and result was a big win for Florida.

Carter Verhaeghe, Florida Panthers. Only overshadowed by Tkachuk’s five-point night, Verhaeghe’s four points included two goals that set the torrid pace for the Panthers tonight.

Up Next

The Lightning (32-16-1, 65 points) host the San Jose Sharks (15-25-11, 41 points) Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. Puck drop is at 7pm.

Follow our coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning all season long at The Scrum Sports.


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