Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning falls to Panthers

Nick Bjugstad sends the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-2 1:42 into the second period as Florida piles up 36 shots in the game’s first 36 minutes.

Associated Press

Nick Bjugstad sends the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-2 1:42 into the second period as Florida piles up 36 shots in the game’s first 36 minutes.

SUNRISE — The Lightning is fully confident in handing the net to goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

It would certainly help, though, if it lent a hand to the 23-year-old Russian every once in a while.

Tampa Bay lost 5-4 to the Panthers at the BB&T Center on Saturday night, but by no means was the score indicative of how the game was played. The Lightning got thoroughly outplayed and outshot (48-30) for a good portion of it.

Had it not been for the play of Vasilevskiy, it could have gotten really ugly. And that's what Monday will be if Tampa Bay (1-1-0) doesn't improve before red-hot Alex Ovechkin comes to town, the Capitals superstar with hat tricks in each of his first two games, and seven goals total.

"It doesn't even matter how close we got. We didn't deserve to win," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We've given up eight goals in two games. That's not a recipe for success.

RELATED: Lightning's J.T. Brown raises fist in protest during anthem.

"It's a concern. We have to address it. You can't win in this league giving up that many goals a game. And it's not on the goaltender."

Vasilevskiy was a big reason the Lightning won Friday's season opener, racking up 33 saves in beating Florida 5-3. And Saturday's game looked promising from the start, with the Lightning scoring twice in the first five minutes. Nikita Kucherov scored on a rebound off the rush. Then Vladislav Namestnikov scored on a power play.

But for the second straight game, the Lightning blew a 2-0 lead. It started with a string of penalties the Lightning took, three straight in the middle of the first period. The Panthers scored a power-play goal and didn't look back. At one point, the Panthers led 36-10 in shots.

"They took over the game," Stamkos said.

RELATED: Joe Smith's takeaways from Saturday's Lightning-Panthers game.

The Panthers' comeback began with a power-play goal by Evgeni Dadonov with eight minutes left in the first. Nick Bjugstad tied the score early in the second. But Lightning center Brayden Point — who was arguably its best forward in the first two games — came through with the go-ahead goal off the rush with seven minutes left.

The first part of the third period, however, was all Florida. The Panthers smothered the Lightning, outhustling and outworking it to loose pucks. They scored twice in 36 seconds to take the lead, the go-ahead goal counting after a review over goaltender interference.

Vasilevskiy said he should have played better, feeling like he lost focus in the third.

"We just didn't play fast anywhere on the ice," coach Jon Cooper said. "Even defensively we didn't play fast. We didn't shut them down, down low. We didn't separate the man from the puck. We let them out of the corner. Once you do that with a team, eventually it's going to end up in your net. That's what happened."

The Lightning found its speed in the third, pulling within one with five minutes left on a goal by Tyler Johnson. Fifteen of Tampa Bay's 30 shots came in the final 20 minutes. It was too little, too late.

"The right team won," Cooper said. "That's it."

Joe Smith can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Panthers 1 1 3 5
Lightning 2 1 1 4
Panthers 1 1 3 5
Lightning 2 1 1 4

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 2 (Stamkos, Namestnikov), 3:30. 2, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 2 (Kucherov, Stamkos), 4:48 (pp). 3, Florida, Dadonov 1 (Ekblad, Huberdeau), 12:18 (pp). PenaltiesTrocheck, FLA, (high sticking), 4:26; Petrovic, FLA, (roughing), 5:53; Paquette, TB, (roughing), 5:53; Johnson, TB, (slashing), 7:51; Kucherov, TB, (tripping), 11:12; Point, TB, (slashing), 19:15.

Second Period4, Florida, Bjugstad 1 (McCann, Dadonov), 1:46. 5, Tampa Bay, Point 2 (Palat), 13:57. PenaltiesDotchin, TB, Major (fighting), 3:11; Haley, FLA, Major (fighting), 3:11; Callahan, TB, (holding), 9:51.

Third Period6, Florida, Sceviour 1 (Barkov, Haley), 6:06. 7, Florida, McCann 1 (Bjugstad, Brickley), 6:42. 8, Florida, Trocheck 1 (Barkov, Vrbata), 8:34. 9, Tampa Bay, Johnson 1 (Point, Gourde), 14:12. PenaltiesPaquette, TB, (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:40; Yandle, FLA, (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:40; Huberdeau, FLA, (cross checking), 1:40; Vrbata, FLA, (slashing), 9:24; Matheson, FLA, (tripping), 11:47; Kucherov, TB, (roughing), 15:54; Barkov, FLA, (roughing), 15:54; Barkov, FLA, served by Vrbata, (roughing), 15:54; Sceviour, FLA, (delay of game), 19:12. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 8-7-15—30. Florida 24-16-8—48. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 6; Florida 1 of 4. GoaliesTampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 1-1-0 (48 shots-43 saves). Florida, Reimer 1-0-0 (30-26).

Lightning falls to Panthers 10/07/17 [Last modified: Sunday, October 8, 2017 12:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning journal: Tighter defense fuels hot start

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — See what happens when you keep the crease clean, limit the traffic in front of G Andrei Vasilevskiy and limit Grade A scoring chances.

    BUZZER BEATER: Yanni Gourde gets the hugs with a goal with less than 1 second left in the first. 
  2. Red-hot Rowdies win playoff opener


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies entered Saturday night's United Soccer League playoff opener as the league's hottest team. First-round opponent FC Cincinnati did nothing to cool them down.

    Marcel Schafer carries a Rowdies teammate on his back after scoring his second goal against Cincinnati in Saturday night’s USL playoff game at Al Lang. Up next: another home game, Oct. 28 against New York Red Bulls II.
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Those wide-open, end-to-end, shoot-at-will games are a lot of fun to watch, especially when those shots are going in the net. But if the players had their druthers, they would rather have a more controlled pace, one with which they can dictate the action.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Lightning-Penguins game

    Lightning Strikes

    Man, is Nikita Kucherov fun to watch. He has a goal in all but one game this season and points in all nine. You have to watch him each time he is on the ice because he is going to do something you do not want to miss: a goal, a shot that requires a tough save, a nifty pass to set up a linemate for a goal.

  5. No. 20 UCF beats Navy 31-21 for first 6-0 start


    ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Central Florida finally had been tested in a tight game, and someone wondered if coach Scott Frost enjoyed seeing how his team reacted to the situation.

    Freshman  Otis Anderson gives UCF plenty of reasons to celebrate after scoring the final touchdown of the game to clinch bowl eligibility for the Knights.