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Burns: 3 Things we learned from falling in Sunrise

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered a one-off road game in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers having collected five of a possible six points in their previous three games.

The Lightning, however, came up empty against the cross-state rival Panthers.

The Bolts and Cats were deadlocked 1-1 late in regulation when Reilly Smith stripped Victor Hedman of the puck at the blue line and shot past Ben Bishop with 4:28 to go to score the game-winner.

Derek MacKenzie added an empty-net goal with 36 seconds left in the third for the 3-1 final.

Ondrej Palat netted the Lightning's only goal, tying the score 1-1 just over a minute into the final period. Palat has scored two goals this season, both coming against Florida.

The Lightning return to AMALIE Arena to play the New York Islanders on Thursday.

But before coming home, let's take a look how the Lightning let one slip away in 3 Things from Sunrise.

Video: TBL@FLA: Bishop robs McCann with strong pad save

1. BATTLE OF THE BACKSTOPPERS

Ben Bishop put together one of his best performances of the season, stopping 29 of Florida's 31 shots and making several body-twisting saves to keep the Lightning in the game.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, Roberto Luongo was even better in the Panthers' net.

The 37-year-old Luongo turned aside 34 Tampa Bay shots and held strong under a barrage of Lightning scoring chances at various points throughout the game. No matter what the Bolts threw at the net, Luongo was there to scoop up the puck, the majority of the time without allowing a rebound.

The Lightning's inability to get second-chance opportunities against Luongo was a big reason why they only able to score once in 35 shots. Even the puck they did put past Luongo wasn't anything the goalie did wrong but a misplay by his defenseman that allowed Ondrej Palat to capitalize on an easy chance.

Bishop, meanwhile, has allowed just four goals combined in his last three starts but was the unlucky loser on Monday because of his offense's inability to breakthrough against Luongo.

Bishop falls to 8-3-1 in his career versus Florida.

Bishop was at his best with the Bolts trailing 1-0 and needing him to hold firm to keep the deficit to a single goal.

One save in particular showcased just how dialed in Bishop was against Florida. In the second period, Alex Petrovic wheeled unchallenged behind the Bolts' net as both Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point were without their sticks Petrovic centered in front to Jared McCann, who was able to settle the puck in the blue paint to get off a backhander from in tight. Bishop, though, held strong, keeping his left skate glued to the post using all six feet, seven inches of his frame, forcing McCann to lift the puck over his leg pad.

McCann couldn't get enough air under his attempt, and Bishop was able to keep the Bolts in the game a bit longer until Palat could tie it up.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, Bishop's outstanding performance was wasted because they couldn't solve the goalie in the opposite net.

 Video: TBL@FLA: Palat jams home puck after turnover

2. I LIKE IT PALAT
Ondrej Palat hasn't gotten on the score sheet as much as he and Lightning fans would like 12 games into the 2016-17 season. Entering the game at Florida, Palat had scored just one goal and accounted for four points.

But on Monday, Palat was much more assertive in the offensive zone, and he doubled his regular-season goal total as a result.

Palat, who often sets up his linemates with his unselfish play, looked more for his shot in Sunrise, shooting early and often to total seven shots on goal, matching a Lightning season high for shots in a game set November 1 in Brooklyn by Steven Stamkos.

It was an innocuous-looking play, however, that resulted in Palat's second goal of the season.

A minute and change into the third period, Alex Petrovic went behind his net to retrieve a puck and send it around the boards. Instead, he whiffed on the attempted clear, sending the puck toward his own net and the back of an unaware Luongo.

Before Luongo could find the puck and react, Palat swooped in and poked the puck under the Panthers goalie and into the net for the Bolts lone breakthrough.

Palat ranked tied for 10th on the Lightning for scoring coming into the Florida game, behind two defensemen and rookie Brayden Point.

Here's hoping Palat's aggressive play Monday will help him break out of his slow start to the season, and he can start putting up the numbers he's shown he's capable of in each of the last three seasons.

 3. COMING HOME EMPTY HANDED

Truth be told, the Lightning deserved to come back to Tampa with at least a point from Monday night's performance.

Unfortunately, over the course of an 82-game season, teams don't always get the result they deserve.

Monday was one of those nights for the Lightning.

Despite giving up the opening goal and trailing after the first period for the seventh time in 12 games this season, the Lightning's opening period was actually pretty good. Tampa Bay gave up an early goal to former Bolt Jonathan Marchessault on a power-play 3:10 into the game, and then settled down to outplay the Panthers for much of the rest of the period.
Not being able to score late in the first with all the momentum, however, was a portent of things to come.

A penalty against Steven Stamkos with no time remaining in the opening period did little to derail Tampa Bay's momentum in the second as the Lightning killed the penalty and continued to pepper Luongo with chance after chance.

When Palat broke through in the third and kept pushing for the go-ahead goal, it seemed the Lightning would, at worst, get a point out of the Atlantic Division matchup.

Instead, an untimely turnover by one of their most reliable players sent the Lightning back to Tampa with nothing to show for all their hard work.

The Lightning will look to bounce back in three days against the Islanders, a team they beat 6-1 the last time they met up this season.

They'll look back at the loss in Sunrise, though, as a winnable game that got away.

 

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