The Lightning (31-26-9) won a testy battle with in-state rival Florida (29-26-11) 3-2 on Saturday night thanks to Ondrej Palat's tie-breaking goal late in the third period.
Playing without Tyler Johnson, Vlad Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette, all of whom were injured in Thursday night's win against the Wild, this game was testy throughout. The tension between the Lightning and Panthers got started early when JT Brown and Alex Petrovic dropped the gloves in the first period. Late in the period Florida began to take control, first when Jaromir Jagr scored to give the Panthers an early lead. The Lightning were hurt by their inability to close the period only down by one, as Mark Pysyk scored with forty-seven second remaining in the period to push the lead to 2-0 and the momentum clearly in Florida's lap.
In spite of that, the Lightning began pushing back in the second period. When given a power play chance early, the Lightning capitalized when Nikita Kucherov scored to make it 2-1. The Bolts would tie the game at 10:11 in the period when Yanni Gourde scored his first NHL goal, unassisted and shorthanded, to make it 2-2.
The score remained 2-2 through the end of the second period and through most of the third. It was Ondrej Palat who broke through at the 17:37 mark to lift Tampa Bay to the 3-2 victory. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished the game strong, saving 32 shots on net in 34 attempts, his sixth-straight 30 save night. Vasilevskiy is now 5-0-1 since the Ben Bishop trade. James Reimer went 31-of-34 in net for the Panthers in defeat.
The Lightning return to action on Monday when they head to Manhattan to battle the New York Rangers. Faceoff Monday night is scheduled for 7:00 and can be heard beginning at 6:30 on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. Florida - Jagr - (Barkov, Marchessault) - 16:32
2. Florida - Pysyk - (Smith, Barkov) - 19:13
1. Tampa Bay - PPG - Kucherov - (Hedman, Drouin) - 3:43
2. Tampa Bay - SHG - Gourde - (Unassisted) - 10:11
1. Tampa Bay - Palat - (Sustr) - 17:37
1. Tampa Bay - Brown - (Fightning) - 1:59
2. Florida - Petrovic - (Fighting) - 1:59
3. Florida - Demers - (Holding) - 7:27
4. Tampa Bay - Palat - (Hooking) - 14:22
1. Tampa Bay - Dumont - (Fighting) - 2:58
2. Florida - Yandle - (Fighting, Roughing) - 2:58
3. Florida - Petrovic - (Roughing, Misconduct, Game Misconduct) - 6:17
4. Florida - Sceviour - (Roughing) - 6:35
5. Tampa Bay - Palat - (Roughing) - 6:35
6. Florida - Witkowski - (Cross Checking) - 9:24
7. Tampa Bay - Sustr - (High Sticking) - 10:28
8. Tampa Bay - Dotchin - (Roughing) - 19:06
9. Florida - Trocheck - (Roughing) - 19:06
1. Florida - MacKenzie - (Tripping) - 5:51
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 34
Florida - 34