First, the good news about this game. The Lightning won it, so they moved one point ahead of the Panthers in the standings and kept pace with Carolina. The team competed hard, much harder than they did in Tuesday's disappointing showing in Nashville. Ross Colton continued to make key plays at crucial times. His third period tally tied the game at two and came less than three minutes after the Lightning had fallen behind. Alex Killorn delivered an impactful performance. He recorded a goal and assisted on Victor Hedman's overtime winner. In his first home game with the Lightning, David Savard had a solid night. He blocked several shots (though, inexplicably, those blocks weren't reflected in the official game report). He also repeatedly closed on Florida puck carriers in the Tampa Bay end, helping his team regain possession. And once again, Andrei Vasilevskiy produced another gem, stopping 36 Florida shots and turning aside numerous scoring chances. He also made a great pass up ice to set up Killorn's second period power play goal.
But the fact that Vasilevskiy had to be so sharp was the bad news. After their poor defensive outing in Nashville, the Lightning wanted to tighten up defensively. That didn't happen. They yielded multiple odd-man rushes. They struggled with puck management. They surrendered open chances from prime scoring areas. The penalty kill went 3-3, but the Panthers posted 10 of their 38 shots while on the man advantage. The Lightning also had a tough night on face-offs, losing 35 of 53 draws.
The Lightning are trying to get their game playoff-ready in the closing weeks of the regular season. Looking ahead to Saturday's meeting against the Panthers, they'll look to build on some of the positives from this one and do a better job of shoring things up defensively.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 36 saves.
2. Alex Killorn - Lightning. Goal and assist.
3. Aleksander Barkov - Panthers.