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Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Florida Panthers 3 FINAL

NHL.com @NHL

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) _ The wins just keep coming for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning scored three first-period goals, then held off a late rally to defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3 Saturday night.

Dimitry Afanasenkov, Dave Andreychuk and Cory Stillman scored in the opening period, and Dan Boyle and Chris Dingman added goals in the second.

Nikolai Khabibulin had 29 saves for the Lightning, who extended their winning streak to eight and got their 39th regular-season victory _ both franchise records. It was their fifth consecutive road victory.

``Any team can lose on any given night,'' said Tampa's Martin St. Louis. ``Last night we played a poor game, but we won (over New Jersey in overtime). We didn't want two poor games in a row and tonight we responded.''

Valeri Bure had two goals, and Nathan Horton also scored for Florida. Roberto Luongo had 19 saves in two periods in his second consecutive loss. Steve Shields made six saves in the third period.

Dingman gave Tampa Bay a 5-1 lead in the second period after his shot from the corner came off the side of the goalpost and drifted back across the goal line. It was Dingman's first goal of the season.

``Luckily it squeaked its way in. It's not pretty, but I'll definitely take it,'' said Dingman.``They're a team that is fighting for their playoff lives and we knew they were going to come out hard. I think we played well and capitalized on our chances.''

Horton's third-period power-play goal made it 5-2. Bure's second goal during a five-on-three power play made it 5-3.

``After two periods we wanted to come out and win the period and see where it takes us,'' said Bure. ``We came out and tried to play our system. It was a game of mistakes, I guess.''

Tampa Bay extended its lead to 4-1 early in the second period when Boyle one-timed a shot past Luongo.

``I'm just not sharp right now in goal, that's the bottom line,'' said Luongo.

The Lightning took a 3-1 lead in the first period when Stillman got the puck as it bounced off the boards in front of the crease and poked it in at 18:47. Earlier, Andreychuk's shot from the bottom of the left circle went over Luongo's shoulder for a 2-1 edge.

``I tried to shoot it quick before he got set,'' said Andreychuk. ``I thought it was in the crowd until I went behind the net and saw it went in. After they came back and got that first goal, I think we played a lot better after that. I think it's a pretty good win over a team that's desperate and needs the points.''

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on its first shot of the game. During a three-on-two rush, Andreychuk passed the puck to Afanasenkov, who backhanded a shot between Luongo's legs.

The Panthers tied it when Khabibulin blocked a shot by Branislav Mezei, but Bure was in the crease to flick in the rebound.

Florida is fighting for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

``When you're trying to make the playoffs and you let in five goals, you're not going to win many games,'' said Mike Van Ryn.

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