After a 2-1 road trip to begin the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning cruised past the Florida Panthers 7-2 in their home opener in front of a sellout crowd Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Tampa Bay Lightning began a seven game homestand Thursday night against their in-state and Atlantic Division rival Florida Panthers and certainly got the spark they needed, especially from Steven Stamkos.
After not scoring any goals in the first three games of the season, Stamkos records three goals for his sixth career hat trick.
“To be perfectly honest, I think this might be the first time I didn’t worry about not having scored,” Stamkos said. “Usually I do. If I didn’t score one goal, sometimes I have trouble sleeping, thinking about what I should have done. I just kind of had an eerie feeling that tonight was going to be a good night.”
Florida cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power play goal from Brad Boyes early in the second period.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop created a great opportunity by passing it up ice to Alex Killorn while Florida was making a line change. Killorn served up a pass to Ondrej Palat entering the offensive zone to blast a slapper past Jacob Markstrom.
Bishop made his third straight start of the season and was solid once again between the pipes making 19 saves. He improved to 3-0-0 with an 1.93 goal-against average and .928 save percentage.
The Tampa Bay offense just never seemed to let up, beginning with Martin St. Louis in the first period. Two goals from Valterri Filppula who made them look easy, especially on a backhanded shot that went over the shoulder of Markstrom.
Filppula is a great two-way player, with great speed, puck handling ability and as we saw tonight, a player that can put the puck in the back of the net.
Lightning head coach John Cooper saw his team execute on what he started to implement late last season.
“They were just rolling and you could tell, they kept putting themselves in position to score without sacrificing the other end,” Cooper said.
A total of 21 points were recorded by 11 different players on the Lightning (Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Teddy Purcell, Matt Carle, Sami Salo, Valterri Filppula, Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop).
Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen touched on Tampa Bay’s constant pressure following the game.
“They smelled blood when we [were] starting to not respond to pressure,” Dineen said. “They kept applying it and we just didn’t stand up to it.”
It became too much for Florida netminder Jacob Markstrom allowing six goals on 24 shots before Scott Clemmensen came in relief late in the third period.
Jonathan Huberdeau provided the Panthers with their second goal of the game in the third period coming down on Bishop getting him to bite on a deke before sliding the puck to the back of the net.
Tampa Bay (3-1-0) will faceoff against the Pittsburgh Penguins (3-0-0) on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as the homestand rolls on. The Penguins will be making a stop in Sunrise, FL to face the Panthers Friday night prior to their trip to Tampa.
Steven Stamkos recorded a shorthanded goal, power play goal, and an even strength goal for his sixth career hat trick.
Martin St. Louis passes Bobby Orr on the all-time scoring list with 917 career points.
Ben Bishop Recorded his first NHL point with assist on goal by Ondrej Palat.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Florida Governor Rick Scott launched the Governor’s Cup that will be awarded to the team with most points in season series between these two clubs.