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Panthers Wrap-Up: Lightning 5, Panthers 4

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 2 0 2 0 4
Lightning 2 2 1 0 5
FLA - PP - T. Fleischmann (7), Q. Howden (1), S. Upshall (12), B. Pirri (8)
TBL - S. Salo (3), M. Kostka (3), R. Callahan (12), T. Johnson (21), PP - S. Stamkos (15)

TAMPA —  ( - Steven Stamkos scored his first goal since returning from a broken right leg and newcomer Ryan Callahan had his first since being acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning hold off the Florida Panthers 5-4 at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Tampa Bay (35-24-7), which jumped past the Montreal Canadiens into third place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning swept the four-game series from their in-state rivals.

"We responded. I thought it was really good energy coming out. We didn't quit. We just kept pushing. We kept getting some great chances in the second period and we had some chances in the third period and their goalie played well."

- Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek.
1. Howdy Do: The Lightning tied the game at one in the first thanks to a blast by Sami Salo off a face-off win but Florida answered post haste thanks to the quick hands of rookie forward Quinton Howden. Jimmy Hayes chipped the puck to the 22-year old and the former first round pick (25th overall, 2010) stunned Ben Bishop with the quick shot, scoring short side 12 seconds after Salo's equalizer. Playing in his 19th career game, what made Howden's first of his NHL career even sweeter was the expression on his face after scoring the goal

2. Powered Up: The Panthers power play continued their great work of late. They cashed in on an early opportunity as forward Tomas Fleischmann connected 1:44 into the game. Dmitry Kulikov kept the puck in and found Fleischmann in the slot where he fired it past an outstretched Bishop for the 1-0 lead. A second opportunity in the second period almost gave them another lead as the units had their chances thanks to crisp passing. Florida has scored six power play goals in their last eight games.

3. Until The End: The Lightning answered the Cats early lead by scoring the next four straight to build a 5-2 cushion but the Panthers showed their resolve as they fought valiantly until the final whistle. Big center Nick Bjugstad picked up his second assist of the night in beautifully setting up Scottie Upshall on a 2-on-1 rush with 1:05 remaining and fellow Young Gun center Brandon Pirri struck with 27 seconds remaining but the Cats couldn’t complete the comeback. It was a tough final game of the season series for the Panthers as they deserved a much better fate after getting quality chances all night against their Governor's Cup foes.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@ashaustin23: Brandon Pirri making his play known in the Pirri-iod ##GOAL️ @FlaPanthers

@TylerboByler: Good game guys. @FlaPanthers

@Davidn2111: that was quite the comeback to make the game close @FlaPanthers

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Mark Zola: Only positive I got today was the young guns are looking really good...(get) some elite players and now we're in business

Michael Barnard: Be prepared to win, Panthers! I will be there Sunday, and you haven't let me down while in attendance in over three years.

Dale Worsnop: Some good plays from the Cats and....yet again....A good 3rd period come back. Pitty we can't keep it like that for the whole game. Nice one Quinton and more good play from Nicky, Pirri Hayes and Trochek!!!

1. Panthers forward Quinton Howden netted his 1st NHL goal to give the Cats a 2-1 lead 12 seconds after Tampa Bay got on the board. Defenseman Alex Petrovic also registered his first NHL point in the game, picking up an assist on Florida's fourth goal.

4. Picking up two assists on the night, Nick Bjugstad stretched his point streak to a career high four games (0-5-5).

23. Dan Ellis stopped 23 shots in making his first start since coming over in a trade with Dallas at the trade deadline.

30. Getting their first power play of the game, the Panthers made good on it 30 seconds in when Fleischmann netted his seventh of the season.

56. New forward Brandon Pirri picked up a goal in his second straight game and added an assist (2-1-3) while winning 56% of his draws (5/9).

Valtteri Filppula
The Lightning's top line center set up three of their five goals, including picking up the first assist on their first and on the eventual game winner.

3 Assists, 3 Points, +1, 1 hot, 19:21 TOI
Florida is right back at it on Friday when they host the New Jersey Devils. It's the second of three meetings between the 2011-12 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal foes and the Cats will look to avenge a tough 2013-14 loss. Back on Jan. 11, New Jersey took home the second point of the night as Marek Zidlicky scored in the dying seconds of overtime for a 2-1 victory in Newark. Currently two points (29-24-13, 71 points) out of the playoffs, New Jersey is led by the future Hockey Hall of Fame forward Jaromir Jagr. The 42-year old has 57 points in 66 games. Corey Schneider and Martin Brodeur have split time between the pipes this season but Schneider, the former teammate of Panthers' netminder Roberto Luongo, will get the start against the Cats on Friday. He has a 2.07 GAA and .918 save percentage this season.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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