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Panthers Wrap-Up: Lightning 6, Panthers 3

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 2 0 0 3
Lightning 1 4 1 0 6
FLA - T. Fleischmann (17), M. Samuelsson (6), S. Bergenheim (9)

TBL - N. Thompson (7), V. Lecavalier (20), M. St Louis (14), S. Stamkos (34), M. St Louis (15), PPG - M. St Louis (16)
TAMPA, Fla (AP) - Martin St. Louis scored three times in his 900th NHL game, Steven Stamkos added his league-leading 34th goal and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 6-3 on Saturday night.

St. Louis got two goals during Tampa Bay's four-goal second, helping the Lightning take a 5-3 lead entering the third. The right wing, who has six goals and 16 points during a nine-game point streak, completed the hat trick on an empty-netter during the final minute of play.

"We had a tough second period to say the least. We got off to a tough start and I think we were our own worst enemy so that was certainly the difference. Of course they put on the second period. They've got good players and when you give up turnovers that's going to be the difference in the hockey game."

- Panthers coach Kevin Dineen
1. Offense Gets Going Early: In Friday night's game, Florida and Winnipeg combined for just three goals over the 60 minutes in a defensive struggle. That wasn't the case Saturday night in Tampa as the two teams combined for nine goals. The offense started early and it was Tampa's Nick Thompson getting the home team on the board first less than two minutes into the game. Stealing the puck from Mike Weaver, Thompson streaked up the left side of the ice and fired a shot that beat Scott Clemmensen five-hole 1:37 into the contest. The Panthers would answer a little over two minutes later. Weaver, making up for the giveaway, fired a pass up to Kris Versteeg. The winger fired a behind the back pass to Tomas Fleischmann who took the puck a couple of strides and then wristed a shot far side for his 17th of the season. The two quick goals were just the start of a highly contested game.

2. Tampa's Stars Take Over Second: Deadlocked at one after one, the Lightning's top three offensive players (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St Louis and Steven Stamkos) took over the game in the second twenty minutes. The trio scored all four Tampa Bay goals in giving the home team a 5-3 lead after forty minutes. Just like the first period, Tampa Bay got on the board early and off another Cats turnover. Lecavalier gave Tampa a 2-1 lead 1:42 into the period as he stole the puck, walked in, faked a shot and then fired a shot top shelf for his 20th of the season. St. Louis upped the Tampa lead to two goals as he followed up on his own shot 2:40 later. After Mikael Samuelsson scored off a rebound to bring the Cats to within one, Tampa would chase Clemmensen (for the rest of the period) as Stamkos netted his league high 34th of the season in following up his own rebound with 7:24 left on the clock and then St. Louis banked the puck in off of Clemmensen's skate from in close with 4:52 left on the clock. Brian Foster would replace Clemmensen in seeing his first NHL action.

3. Turnovers Costly As Cats Continue To Search For Back-To-Back Success: Whenever the Panthers had a turnover Saturday night, the puck seemed to find the back of the net. Clemmensen was left on the hook on several occasions and while coming up with some big saves, couldn't keep the Lightning offense off the board. Sean Bergenheim's second goal in two games with 45 seconds left in the second gave the visitors hope and despite two power play chances, Florida couldn't get any closer as St. Louis cemented the game with an empty netter. Turnovers led directly to about four of the Lightning's goals. While the energy seemed to be there, playing the second game on back-to-back days has cost the Cats points on the season. With the loss, Florida fell to 2-5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. The second game, in fact, hasn't been pretty on the scoreboard. Adding the six goals to the total, Florida's opponents have scored 34 goals in the eight games to date this season. Florida on the other hand has recorded just 14 goals. Some of the Panthers biggest losses (scoreboard wise) have come in back-to-back games. That includes a 5-1 loss earlier in the season in Tampa, 8-0 loss in Boston and 5-2 loss in New Jersey.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@awes0m3ness: Shake it off #FlaPanthers

@305miamiteams: Bad loss for the #FlaPanthers

@dmcmahan22510: @FlaPanthers get some rest fellas, you're still the #FirstPlaceCats. Recoup and get ready for Tuesday in the phone booth.

@Habs_93: If the @FlaPanthers keep play 2nd periods like that one the rest of the season you can forget the #Playoffs can't do and expect to make it.

@ClaudiaXRod: Even though @FlaPanthers didn't win an amazing performance by Brian Foster in his first NHL game. Happy Birthday and best wishes to Foster!!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

John R McNulty: Tough game. Well need a better effort against the Crapitals.

Amy Riley: Still proud guys. Next time. Still number 1

Joe Fiore: Well, I'm not going to smite the Panthers for the game tonight. They did pretty well, especially considering they've played two in a row. Clemmensen had a lot coming at him tonight, and you can't expect him to be perfect. Good energy throughout the game, they just weren't able to push enough. They need to bring a bigger bag of tricks for the Capitals though, especially considering the standings right now. Pretty huge game on Tuesday, so let's hope the two days off will give them a burst.

Colby Moran: Good grief being originally from Tampa and the girlfriend still holding the hometown roots, I'm never going to hear the end of this.

Jeff Main: Plenty of time to get rested up. Ovi will be back in Washingtons line up to which poses a threat itself.


1. Trailing by three (5-2) after Martin St Louis scored his second of the game with 4:52 left in the second, Cats head coach Kevin Dineen went to the bench and replaced Scott Clemmensen with backup Brian Foster. Called up due to the injuries to Jose Theododre and Jacob Markstrom, Foster would play the final 4:52 of the period, the first action of his NHL career. Ironically enough, the netminder saw just one shot over that time.

2. Usually when the Panthers score three or more goals in a game, it means points in the bank. They did that against Tampa as Tomas Fleischmann, Mikael Samuelsson and Sean Bergenheim all scored a goal. Unfortunately Tampa Bay doubled the trio's efforts as Florida fell for just the second time in regulation when scoring three or more goals. That dropped the Cats record to 18-2-4 on the season.

4. Florida gave up four goals to Tampa Bay in the second period. It tied for the most goals allowed by the team this year in a period. It was the third time the Panthers allowed four goals in a period with the last time coming in the first period in Boston (Dec. 23rd).

17. Tampa Bay finished the game with 34 shots on net. Half of those (17) came in the middle period which shows how they were to do their damage against the Panthers as they scored the four second period goals. Florida, in contrast, had just 20 shots on goal the entire game.

Playing in his 900th career game, St. Louis had a memorable one as the winger scored three of the Lightning's six goals on the night, cementing the hat trick with an empty netter with 21 seconds left on the clock.

Martin St. Louis
Recorded a hat trick in his 900th NHL game. Goals gave Tampa a 3-1, 5-2 and 6-3 lead.

3 Goals, 4 Shots, +3, 19:12 TOI
The Panthers will have two days off before playing their fourth Division game in a row following the All-Star break. It will be a rematch of Wednesday night's game as the Panthers and Capitals face off with first place on the line once again. While the Panthers earned a 4-2 victory at the BankAtlantic Center, Washington will look to win even the season series at two wins a piece and their second victory at home when the teams take to the ice at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. Washington is led offensively this season by Nicklas Backstrom (42 points in 38 games) and Alex Ovechkin (39 points in 48 games) up front while Dennis Wideman leads the Caps blueliners in scoring with 35 points in 51 games. Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth have split time between the pipes with Vokoun owning a 21-12-1 record and a 2.53 GAA and Neuvirth recording a 6-8-3 record and a 3.08 GAA.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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