Once again for the Lightning, this was a game that included some high-skill offensive plays, porous defensive segments, a high shot against total and another contest that wasn't decided after 60 minutes. In fact, it was a franchise-record sixth consecutive overtime game for the Lightning.
Team defense continues to be a concern for the Lightning. They endured several sloppy segments in this game - and that was when the Panthers accumulated most of their shots on goal. The last five minutes of the first period, the middle part of the second and the opening minutes of the third. During those times, the Lightning didn't manage the puck well and spent a lot of time in their own zone. In addition to amassing plenty of shots, the Panthers netted their four goals during those segments.
On the other hand, the Lightning also had strong moments in this game. They carried play in the middle part of the first period (and scored twice). After the shaky end to the first period, they decisively carried play in the first half of the second. And after the Panthers pulled to within 3-2 with 6:25 left in the second, the Lightning responded with a strong finish to the frame (and added a fourth goal). Then in the third period, following the two early Florida goals tied the score at four, the Lightning perhaps had their best, sustained stretch in the game. They dictated play for much of the final 14 minutes of regulation and had several excellent chances to retake the lead. In overtime, Andrei Vasilevskiy made a breakaway save on Evgenii Dadonov before Point's overtime winner. At the bottom of the right faceoff circle, Point made a nifty stickhandling move around Dadonov and roofed his shot over the glove of Roberto Luongo.
As has been the case in previous games against the Panthers, the Lightning had a difficult time dealing with Aleksander Barkov and his linemates (tonight they were Dadonov and Nick Bjugstad). So has the rest of the league. The Barkov line accounted for all three of Florida's even strength goals. That line was a handful and frankly, was responsible for most of Florida's dangerous looks (along with whichever defensemen were on the ice with them).
But the Panthers had just as much trouble with the Lightning's line of Brayden Point, J.T. Miller and Yanni Gourde. They contributed three of the Lightning's four regulation goals and Point added the overtime winner.
So in the end, even though the shot total was lopsided (49-33) and the 49 shots allowed were a season-high for the Lightning in a game this year, scoring chances and flow of play were much more even. It's just that when the Panthers were rolling, they did an excellent job of getting pucks on net.
The Lightning will bank their two points, which give them 96 on the season. As they continue this long homestand, however, they will still seek a more complete defensive performance.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Point's OT winner.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Yanni Gourde - Lightning. Two goals and assist.
- Nick Bjugstad - Panthers. Hat trick.
- Brayden Point - Lightning. OT winner.