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game recap

Lightning hand Panthers fifth straight loss

Ondrej Palat breaks tie with 2:23 remaining for Tampa Bay

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Ondrej Palat scored with 2:23 remaining to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Yanni Gourde and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning (32-26-9), who are 10-2-3 in their past 15 games. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves.

Jaromir Jagr and Mark Pysyk scored for Florida (29-27-11), which has lost five consecutive games (0-4-1). James Reimer made 31 saves.

Palat's goal came off a redirection off a slap shot from Andrej Sustr that got past Reimer.

 

WATCH: All Panthers vs. Lightning highlights

 

"It's always nice. I'm happy it went in," Palat said. "But I'm just playing hard, playing my game and just waiting for one to go in, and today I get that lucky bounce on a tip so I'm happy. I got the puck, dumped it in, it went to Sustr, he shot it so I just got tip it, and it went in."

Gourde tied the game 2-2 at 10:11 of the second period with a shorthanded goal. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone and beat Reimer on a breakaway for his first NHL goal.

Video: FLA@TBL: Palat tips home Sustr's shot for the lead

"Just a surreal moment," Gourde said. "Something you dream of all your childhood. It was just a surreal moment. Unbelievable."

Jagr opened the scoring at 16:32 of the first period on his 14th goal of the season when he followed up a shot from Aleksander Barkov to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Pysyk made it 2-0 at 19:13 of the first when he beat Vasilevskiy on a slap shot from the point with Jagr providing a screen.

Kucherov scored at 3:43 of the second period on a power-play goal, his 31st of the season, to make it 2-1.

Video: FLA@TBL: Jagr nets a sharp-angle goal

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and center Denis Malgin each left the game in the second period because of an upper-body injury.

"We went down a few guys and we were only a one bounce away from getting a big win," Reimer said. "It was a real gutsy effort. We played some good character hockey these last two games."

 
Goal of the game

Kucherov's power-play goal came from his favorite spot, the right circle. His one-timer beat Reimer glove side at the near post.

Video: FLA@TBL: Kucherov cranks home a one-timer for a PPG

 
Save of the game

Vasilevskiy recovered to guard some open net and stop Panthers forward Colton Sceviour on a wrist shot at 5:29 of the third period.

 

Unsung performance of the game

Panthers defenseman Jason Demers was plus-1 with three blocked shots and two hits in 25:43 of ice time on a team-high 36 shifts. "We were down to four [defensemen] fairly early in the game on the end of a back-to-back," Reimer said. "They showed a lot of effort and I was proud to be out there with those guys."

 

Highlight of the game

Gourde forced Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck into a turnover in the neutral zone and scored while being backchecked by Trocheck. "For him to take the puck from a really good player on their team and be able to fight him off and score that goal, it was uplifting for all of us," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Big goal and a big moment for him."

Video: FLA@TBL: Gourde steals puck, nets shorthanded goal

 
They said it

"It was a great hockey game, great for the state of Florida. We want to build a rivalry here and they want to build one with us. I thought that was as close to a playoff game as you'll get in the regular season." -- Panthers coach Tom Rowe

 

"Last two games, both teams deserved to win and it's tough to win this time of year. We've been on the wrong side of both games. We certainly don't feel like we're out of it. We're going to reset for Toronto [on Tuesday] and that's all we can do." -- Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie

 

"It takes character to win them all [games], but you're going to put this one up there, especially the last 12 minutes or so. We were playing with limited players, but they were responsible. It was gritty, it was gutty. They played to win a hockey game." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

 

Need to know

Rowe said Ekblad and Malgin were going through the League's concussion protocol. ... Gourde is the fourth Lightning player to score his first NHL goal shorthanded. ... Kucherov's 31 goals and 67 points are career highs. ... Linesman Pierre Racicot went to the locker room in the third period and did not return.

 
What's next

Panthers: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, FS-F, TSN4, NHL.TV)

Lightning: At the New York Rangers on Monday (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG, SUN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Gourde tallies first NHL goal in 3-2 victory

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