"I look at these (guys) as our rivalry. We travel together. We're traveling to a new division next year together. We see each other a lot. We pre scout each other a lot. We know them well and we always enjoy beating them."
- Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen on finally beating Tampa Bay (had been 0-4-3 entering game).
1. The Brennan Blast: The Panthers latest acquisition (acquired March 15) had his best game in a Panthers uniform. Playing in his eighth game in Florida, TJ Brennan was credited with a power play goal on two seperate occasions as his blasts found the back of the net. Unfortunately for him, his teammates found ways to get their sticks on them on their way past Mathieu Garon. None-the-less, his bombs were reminiscint of Jason Garrison's from last season. 8:36 into the opening period, Brennan wound up a pass from Tomas Fleischmann to go top shelf. Tomas Kopecky was able to get a piece of it to redirect it to the top left corner of the net. Then in the second it was Greg Rallo taking away Brennan's potential third of the season. It was Rallo's first of his NHL career as he just got a piece of the Brennan blast with 3:19 left in the second.
2. Lightning Battle Back: Florida looked to be in command due to Brennan and the play of goaltender Jacob Markstrom as they held a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes but the Lightning put the pressure on the Cats in the final 20 and were able to score twice in a five minute span. First it was a nice play by Teddy Purcell as he drew two Panthers defenders and then sent a pass to Tom Pyatt on the rush. Left all alone on the criss-cross move, Pyatt redirected the pass up and over Markstrom. Tampa scored the equalizer with 9:28 to play on an unlucky goal as far as Florida was concerned. Victor Hedman's point shot went wide and bounced off the end boards. Bouncing back toward the goal, Alex Killorn got a piece of it and it hopped over Markstrom's pad and in.
3. Markstrom Too Much: Tampa kept on pressuring as they posted 13 shots on the Florida goal in the final 20 minutes but Markstrom and the defense stood tall otherwise. The goaltender won his fifth in his last seven games as he faced 39 shots on the night including four in the five minute extra session. Tampa couldn't find the third goal. In fact after Killorn's tally, they couldn't find the back of the net again as Markstrom stopped all three Lightning shooters to win his second straight shootout victory. After overtime decided nothing, Markstrom denied Purcell while Peter Mueller scored on the shot in the first round of the shootout. The Panthers goaltender did the rest after Mueller's goal as he stopped Hedman and Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, propelling Florida to their third straight victory. It took Florida more than 60 minutes to win all three games.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.
@Ashley_Cascio: @j_markstrom is a Swedish beast. He is everything the @FlaPanthers needed #buzzin
@kwkouki: @FlaPanthers haven't been this excited about a 3 game streak in a while ^__^ great game boys!
@EricLachner: Dammit if we had this streak earlier. @FlaPanthers 8 pts from division lead ahhh is it possible. 11-0 will make it happen.
@ShelbyCoker: Watching @j_markstrom is like watching NBA All-Stars play against Middle Schoolers!! @FlaPanthers #PanthersTV
@H_Chupp: Congrats @GregRallo27 on your 1st NHL goal!!! #sohappyforyou @NHL @FlaPanthers
Memorable fan posts from the game.
Jeff Carter: That kid in net is a freak of nature! Rats Reign!!!
Joao Paulo Violante: Markstrom was huge tonight!
Drew A. Kristol: Nice to be able to win a few!!
C.j. Rafferty: Marky!!!! What a HUGE performance, it is so nice going into a shootout with some confidence! Go cats!!
Matthew Dunstan: Way To Go Boys.... 2 More Points.
1. Playing in his fourth NHL game, forward Greg Rallo picked up his first NHL goal when he redirected a point shot past Mathieu Garon late in the second period. It took a while for the 31-year old to make his NHL debut (November, 2011) but that doesn't matter now. The forward led the team with four shots on net. 2. Defenseman TJ Brennan had one assist coming into Tuesday's game against the Lightning. That was accomplished in 28 games and actually came five games ago. He had two in Tampa alone. 3. It took past regulation for the third straight game but the Panthers earned their first three-game winning streak of the season. They beat Buffalo (SO), New Jersey (OT) and Tampa (SO) in less than a week. 13. The Panthers definitely threw their weight around as they doubled up Tampa Bay in the hits category. Florida finished with 26 hits while the Lightning had 13 on the night. Defenseman Tyson Strachan had six of Florida's total.
39.Goaltender Jacob Markstrom is used to having to make a lot of saves lately. He finished with 39 on the night and it was the fifth time in the last seven games that he had to make at least 33 saves in a game
Brennan could have had two goals (two assists instead) but Markstrom was huge, consistently frustrating Tampa's star players like Marty St Louis with pad save after pad save.
The Panthers return home for back-to-back games at the BB&T Center. After three days off, they'll face the Capitals and Senators on Saturday and Sunday. First up, the resurgent Capitals who have fought their way back into playoff contention. The Caps are just three points behind eight place and two points behind the Jets for first in the Southeast after beating the Hurricanes 5-3 Tuesday night. They're led offensively by Alex Ovechkin (37 points in 36 games), Mike Ribeiro (35 points in 36 games) and Nicklas Backstrom (35 points in 36 games). Goaltender Braden Holtby holds a 15-11-1 record with a 2.77 GAA and .912 SV%.