Stamkos saves Lightning late vs. Panthers
TAMPA, Fla. -- Steven Stamkos has scored a lot of goals in the NHL, but few will rival his game-tying shot with 5.5 seconds left in regulation, finding the top corner of the net to set up the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-3 shootout win over the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night.
The Lightning (3-0-0) got the game-winning goal in the sixth frame of shootout from rookie Brayden Point, with goalie Ben Bishop getting his fourth save of shootout to clinch the win over the Panthers (2-0-1).
“That was probably one of the better shots of my career, the angle of the pass and how much velocity I got on it,” Stamkos said of his second goal of the season. “Just one of those where everything executed perfectly, and it comes off your stick and you feel it. Especially at that time of the game, obviously I’ll take that.”
The Lightning had seen a 2-1 third-period lead turn into a 3-2 deficit, but Stamkos got the puck behind the net, passed it to defenseman Victor Hedman, who passed it back to him for a wide shot that got past Panthers goalie James Reimer.
“Not many guys in the league that can do that, and when I say not many, you’re talking one hand,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the tying goal. “Even then, I don’t know if you’re getting to the thumb. Special players with special abilities can do that, and no bigger time than when we needed it.”
The Lightning looked to have won the game in the third frame of the shootout, as Vincent Trocheck missed the puck on his shot and it moved to the side, where he took a shot that went in but was waved off. After review, officials determined the puck stayed in motion and the goal was valid, extending the shootout
Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson had scored with 4:08 left to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead, and the Lightning pulled Bishop with a minute left, hoping to get the equalizer, setting up Stamkos’ tying shot.
Reimer, making his Florida debut, had outdueled Bishop, making 25 saves until allowing the late goal.
“I thought we battled hard. Unfortunately we couldn’t close it out,” Reimer said. “I thought we capitalized when we needed to. It’s a valuable point and we’ll go from there.”
Matheson’s goal came after center Greg McKegg took a long pass down the right side and skated behind the goal, firing a pass that Matheson shot past Bishop for the late lead.
Florida tied the game early in the third on another loose puck around the net, with Jussi Jokinen feeding Vincent Trocheck for his second goal of the season with 14:34 left in the third.
Tampa Bay picked up a power play just 19 seconds later after a fight, but the Lightning weren’t able to muster so much as a shot in the two-minute advantage. The Panthers had near-misses in the final period, with two shots caroming off the post.
Florida had a late power play as well after Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin was called for hooking, but they too couldn’t convert the opportunity, getting only one shot to send the tie into the final eight minutes.
The Lightning, who rallied from two goals down in each of their first two wins, fell behind 1-0 in the second period before rallying for two goals and the lead.
After a scoreless opening period, Florida jumped ahead with a short-handed goal early in the second. Derek MacKenzie stole the puck from Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat and fed a centering pass to Colton Sceviour, who beat Bishop for his second goal of the season at 2:38.
Tampa Bay tied the game soon after, as Nikita Kucherov collected a loose puck behind the Florida goal and fed Alex Killorn, who scored for his third goal in as many games to tie the game at 6:18 of the second.
Reimer gave up another goal to surrender the lead before the period was over.
Stamkos got a loose puck, skated behind the Florida net and then fired a shot at the back of Reimer’s pads, with Palat shooting in a rebound for his first goal of the season. Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead at 16:21 of the second.
Florida hadn’t allowed more than nine shots in any of its first six periods coming in, but the Lightning did that in both of the first two periods, getting 10 in the first and 12 in the second.
“He’s a good player, and the guy made a good pass down to him,” Reimer said of Stamkos’ tying goal. “He threaded it with a great shot. Obviously you’d like to make those saves at the end, but sometimes it’s not possible. We’ll regroup and be better next time.”
NOTES: The Lightning honored former captain Vincent Lecavalier before the game with the ceremonial puck drop. Lecavalier, a key part of Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, remains the franchise’s career leader in goals (383) and total games played (1,037) over 14 seasons from 1998-2013. The 36-year-old retired after last season, playing his final season with the Flyers and Kings. ... For the third straight game, D Slater Koekkoek was the Lightning’s only healthy scratch. The Panthers did not dress LW Shawn Thornton and D Steven Kampfer. ... Panthers C Jonathan Marchessault got an early reunion with the Lightning, the team for which he played the last two seasons, totaling eight goals in 47 games. He had two goals and two assists in his first two games with Florida.