TAMPA (WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning earned their sixth straight season-opening victory, a Mikhail Sergachev had a season-high three assists, and Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn each had multiple point nights as the Bolts defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 Thursday at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning used a delayed penalty situation early in the first period to score the first goal of the season, which ended with reigning Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov beating new Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky with a slapshot from the right faceoff circle for his first goal of the new season.
Florida tied the game up early in the second, as Mike Hoffman's shot from the low slot on a feed from behind the net beat Andrei Vasilevskiy less than three minutes into the second period.
But the Bolts would regain the advantage midway through the period, using a Jonathan Huberdeau hooking penalty to shift momentum back in their direction and Kevin Shattenkirk's slap shot just as the penalty expired ended up behind Bobrovsky for a 2-1 lead they held on to into the second intermission.
Frank Vatrano's interference penalty led to a pair of goals. First, the Panthers capitalized on a neutral zone turnover as Aaron Ekblad sprung Vincent Trocheck on a breakaway, and he beat Vasilevskiy to even up the game again. But less than a minute later Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning the lead back for good with the team's first power play goal of the year.
Pat Marron's goal with just over six minutes to play gave the Bolts a little extra breathing room, and Erik Cernak's empty-net goal with 45 seconds to play set the score.
Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves on 37 shots faced.
Tampa Bay begins a six-game road trip Saturday with the back half of the home and home with the Panthers to begin the year. Faceoff from BB&T Center is set for 7:00 on NewsRadio WFLA.
- TBL: GOAL - Nikita Kucherov (1). ASSISTS - Sergachev, Joseph. TIME - 6:39.
- FLA: GOAL - Mike Hoffman (1). ASSISTS - Trocheck, Connolly. TIME - 2:35
- TBL: GOAL - Kevin Shattenkirk (1). ASSISTS - Sergachev, Killorn. TIME - 10:28
- FLA (SH): GOAL - Vincent Trocheck (1). ASSIST - Ekblad. TIME - 8:39
- TBL (PP): GOAL - Ondrej Palat (1). ASSISTS - Killorn, Sergachev. TIME - 9:34
- TBL: GOAL - Pat Maroon (1). ASSISTS - Hedman, Kucherov. TIME - 13:51
- TBL: GOAL - Erik Cernak (1). ASSIST - Cirelli. TIME - 19:14