In order for the Lightning to get back to their winning ways, they needed their big guys to step up.
And that's exactly what they did.
Victor Hedman scored 54 seconds into overtime & Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves as the Lightning defeated the Panthers 3-2 on Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
Hedman came in all alone on Florida goaltender Chris Driedger in the extra period and made a quick deke before scoring & sending the Lightning fans home happy.
Vasilevskiy had to be sharp early, making a save on a Jonathan Huberdeau breakaway after a pass through the middle ice from Anthony Duclair split the Tampa Bay defensemen.
The Lightning were outshot 13-4 in the 1st and were behind 1-0 when Patric Hornqvist got the Panthers on the board with a goal at 15:13 mark of the opening period.
Tampa Bay played much better in the 2nd period, and were rewarded after Ross Colton drew a holding call on former Bolts defenseman Radko Gudas.
Coming down on a 2-on-0 with Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn threw a pass over to his linemate that was actually deflected by Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and past Driedger to tie the score at one apiece.
The play was pretty even, until Duclair gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead after a nifty spin-a-rama move & pass from Huberdeau at 7:13 of the 3rd.
The Lightning could have gotten down, but they answered right back less than three minutes later, and it was that guy once again.
Colton scored his 8th goal of the year after re-directing a pass from Sergachev past Driedger to tie the game just three seconds shy of the midway point of the 3rd period.
The Panthers had another chance late in the 3rd when Owen Tippett came down on a breakaway after Hedman mishandled the puck at the blue line, but Vasilevskiy just got enough of Tippett's backhanded attempt to keep the score tied.
Driedger stopped 16 of the 19 shots he saw on the evening.
- Florida - Hornqvist - (Wennberg, Nutivaara) - 15:13
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Killorn - (Vasilevskiy) - 13:28
- Florida - Duclair - (Huberdeau, Nutivaara) - 7:13
- Tampa Bay - Colton - (Sergachev, Coleman) - 9:57
- Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Killorn) - 0:54
- Tampa Bay - Palat - (Hooking) - 6:33
- Florida - Gudas - (Holding) - 12:05
- Tampa Bay - Goodrow - (Cross Checking) - 19:15
- Florida - Duclair - (Holding) - 1:42
- Tampa Bay - Killorn - (High Sticking) - 2:13
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Saturday night here at Amalie Arena, once again, against the Florida Panthers. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm with the pregame show starting at 6:00pm on NewsRadio WFLA.
PHOTO : Getty Images