Panthers’ Perfect Homestand Upended

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers were looking for a sweep in their four game home-stand Friday night, but the with the always tough Tampa Bay Lightning, in town, the Panthers wound up just short, losing 2-1 on an overtime goal by Steven Stamkos.

After Dmitrii Kulikov took an interference penalty just 48 seconds into the extra frame, Marc-Andre Bergeron held control of the puck at the center point. He passed the puck to a wide open Stamkos, who took a hard one-timer from inside the left faceoff circle past Panther goalie José Théodore. The goal came on a 4-on-3 power play as the teams skate 4-on-4 in the extra frame.

“They got two full minutes and that’s hard to kill,” coach Kevin Dineen said, referring to the difficulty of a 4-on-3 penalty kill.

It was Stamkos’ 12th goal of the season.

“I’m not crazy about a call like that deciding a hockey game. That was certainly a debatable call,” Dineen continued.

The Panthers played flat, but did not play bad. They totaled 24 shots on goal, with Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon stopping 23 of them. Théodore one-upped him, stopping 29 of the 31 Lightning shots. Both received post-game recognition in the three-stars.

The game started off sluggish, with both teams playing flat hockey. The teams recovered in period two, with a lot of back and forth hockey. Each team had 13 shots on net in the second stanza.

12:38 into the period, Stephen Weiss rushed up the left side behind defenseman Matt Gilroy. He passed the puck across the ice to Tomas Fleischmann. Fleischmann, who had a scare in his last game after being hit in the head by Rangers forward Andre Deveaux, took a snap shot off the pass and got the puck up high past Garon to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. It was his 10th goal of the season.

In the third period, the Lightning got the goal back. 8:59 into the period. Vincent Lecavalier came in after a pass from Martin St. Louis. He took the initial shot, which was saved by Théodore. Lecavalier kept poking, and finally jarred the puck loose to his right. He had the entire right side of the net open and scored an easy tip-in to make to even up the score. It was Lecavalier’s 10th goal of the 2011-12 season.

Despite the loss, the Panthers earned all but one of the possible eight points on the week and home series.

The two teams will settle the score in their fifth meeting of the season tomorrow. The Lightning look to sweep the home-and-home and take the lead in the Sunshine State Series, while the Panthers look to salvage the split and keep the season series tied.

CAT BYTES:

  • Florida still leads the Southeast division with 28 points and sits in second in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Boston and two points behind Pittsburgh.
  • The Rangers’ Deveaux was given a three game suspension for his hit on Fleischmann. NHL RELEASE:

“Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Deveaux will forfeit $8,513.52. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
“Deveaux will miss games this afternoon at Washington, Nov. 26 vs. Philadelphia and Nov. 29 vs. Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return Dec. 1 at Carolina.”

  • The Panthers first line and top line defensemen have been the only players involved in goals this week. The last time a non-first line player scored a goal was last Thursday when Mike Santorelli scored for the Panthers against the St. Louis Blues.

THREE STARS:

  1. Steven Stamkos (TB) GWG
  2. Mathieu Garon (TB) W, 23 sv
  3. José Théodore(FLA) OTL, 29 sv

 

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