The Florida Panthers couldn’t play spoiler against their cross state rivals, nor prevent a 10-game losing streak. Vincent Lecavalier had two goals, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Panthers 4-2, Friday night in Tampa.
Tampa Bay drew first blood early in the first, on a power play chance. Just seven seconds into the opportunity, Martin St. Louis hit Lecavalier with a centering pass from behind the net, and Lecavalier one-timed the puck passed Scott Clemmensen’s right leg.
The Panthers tied the game at the 11:59 mark, on an odd man rush. Mike Santorelli slipped a pass back to Jason Garrison, who blasted a rocket over the glove of Dwayne Roloson. However, the Lightning grabbed the lead right back before the end of the period on a fluke goal. Clemmensen tried to poke check a loose puck in front of the net, but he poked it into Shawn Matthias and the puck ricocheted into his own net.
Lecavalier was awarded a penalty shot early in the second period and converted it. He came in slowly and waited until Clemmensen went down, finally shooting the puck into the upper part of the open net. Tampa Bay then made it 4-1 on another power play goal. Ryan Malone’s shot caused a big rebound, which Pavel Kubina pounced on and ripped upstairs.
Santorelli got his 20th goal of the season in the third period, to cut the deficit to 4-2. Santorelli followed up his own shot, and squeezed the puck between Roloson’s pad and the post.
With the loss, the Panthers assured themselves of finishing 28th in the standings this season. That guarantees them a top four selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. They finish the season at home, tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals.