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Cats Dominate in Tampa Bay

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist, and Ville Peltonen set up three goals to lead the Florida Panthers past the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 Friday night.


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The loss before a sellout crowd, combined with Atlanta's 4-1 victory at Carolina, halted Tampa Bay's bid for its third Southeast Division championship in four seasons.

The Panthers chased Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist with four goals in their first 12 shots. Backup Marc Denis took over with 1:48 left in the first period.

Nathan Horton opened the scoring 3 minutes in with his career-high 31st goal. He has nine goals and three assists in eight games against Tampa Bay this season.

Noah Welch, David Booth and Jay Bouwmeester also scored in the first period, while Panthers goalie Ed Belfour faced only three shots at the other end.

Janis Sprukts and Jokinen extended the lead to 6-0 through two periods, and Kamil Kreps made it 7-0 early in the third. Jokinen has four goals and eight assists in eight games against the Lightning.

Jason Ward spoiled the shutout with 8:41 left on the clock, and teammate Nick Tarnasky scored 45 seconds later to make it 7-2.

Notes: Tampa Bay has lost its home finale six times in a row. ... The Lightning had won three consecutive games since a 5-2 loss to the Panthers in Tampa on March 27. ... Florida clinched the season series by winning the last three games. ... The Stanley Cup was on display.
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