TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Martin St. Louis' aggressive short-handed play paid off again.
``St. Louis is a madman on short-handed situation, bottom line,'' Florida coach John Torchetti said. ``He works hard, and that's what it's all about.''
St. Louis made it 3-1 on a breakaway with 1:18 left in the second period, his 28th goal of the season.
``You get a chance to go, you got to go,'' St. Louis said. ``It's a big turnaround. You want to capitalize on those chances. It's tough on the other team when they're on the power-play and we have the puck. It's annoying.''
Lecavalier opened the scoring in the first and has five goals and 10 points during a six-game point streak.
Cory Sarich also scored for the Southeast Division-leading Lightning, who have a 16-point lead over the second-place Panthers. Tampa Bay is 9-1-1 the past 11 games.
``I get a kick ... I hear a lot of things that we have this division sewn up,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. ``We don't have anything sewn up. We have a lot of hockey to play and a lot of things can happen.''
Mathieu Biron and Mike Van Ryn had the Florida goals. The Panthers, who trail the New York Islanders by nine points for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, began a six-game road trip.
Lightning goalie John Grahame made 29 saves. Florida's Roberto Luongo turned aside 33 shots.
Luongo made 50 saves in the previous meeting between the teams, a 2-1 Florida victory on Jan. 17.
Florida has allowed nine short-handed goals.
``Every game it seems that other team gets chances on the PK,'' Luongo said. ``We've got to adjust somehow. It's not normal that we have let nine short-handed goals against this year.''
Lecavalier scored from the right circle at 13:06 of the first. Dmitry Afanasenkov, who just finished serving a tripping penalty, set up the goal with a pass through the slot from the left circle.
Biron tied it at 1 on his first goal in 16 games with 53.2 seconds left in the first.
Sarich put the Lightning up 2-1 with his first goal in 33 games 5:31 into the second. Sarich's goal from the low slot came off a pass from behind the net by Lecavalier.
Van Ryn got the Panthers to 3-2 at 13:19 of the third.
``It was a little close at the end,'' Grahame said. ``But we got the two points and that's all that matters.''
|Vincent Lecavalier (20) ASST: Dimitri Afanasenkov (7), Brad Lukowich (9)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Mathieu Biron (3) ASST: Kristian Huselius (13), Matt Cullen (8)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Cory Sarich (2) ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (21), Ruslan Fedotenko (12)|
2 - 1 TBL
|SHG - Martin St. Louis (28) ASST: Freddy Modin (18)|
3 - 1 TBL
|Mike Van Ryn (10) ASST: Marcus Nilson (13)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Kristian Huselius Hooking|
|Dimitri Afanasenkov Tripping|
|Donald Audette Holding|
|Ben Clymer Too many men/ice - bench|
|Brad Richards Too many men/ice - bench|
|Darcy Hordichuk Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Dan Boyle Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Martin St. Louis Hooking|