EditorsNote: Tweaks headline; fixes Luongo in 3rd graf, MacDonald throughout
J.T. Miller and Nikita Kucherov scored in the shootout as the host Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Saturday night.
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 42 saves through regulation and overtime, stopped Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov in the shootout. The other Panthers shooter, Mike Hoffman, hit the post. Hoffman also hit the post in overtime on what could have been a game-winning shot.
In addition to the loss, the Panthers may have paid a heavy price for this game as starting goalie Roberto Luongo left due to injury with 7:39 left in the second period. Florida was leading 1-0 when it appeared that Panthers forward Frank Vatrano was pushed and fell on Luongo’s left leg.
Luongo, who made 13 saves, was replaced by James Reimer, who stopped 15 shots through regulation and overtime.
It was the opening game for both teams — the Lightning, who are considered by many to be Stanley Cup favorites; and the Panthers, a trendy pick to make the playoffs after just missing last season.
And, on this big night, Panthers defenseman Jacob MacDonald, playing his first NHL game, scored his first goal on his first shift and his first shot.
Derek MacKenzie, Florida’s fourth-line center and former captain, was on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, suffering an upper-body injury and playing just 2:43.
Florida opened the scoring with 5:58 elapsed in the first period. Vincent Trocheck, who led the Panthers with 31 goals last season, was the setup man this time. He skated wide on the right side and found MacDonald, who scored on a one-timer from the left circle.
The Panthers outshot the Lightning 16-4 in the first period but could not add to their lead.
Tampa Bay regained some momentum during a scoreless second period, outshooting the Panthers 14-8.
The Panthers came up empty on three straight third-period power plays. On the third man advantage, the Lightning broke out with a rush. Anthony Cirelli fed Ryan McDonagh, whose shot was blocked by Reimer. However, Cirelli tapped home the rebound to tie the score 1-1 with 9:15 left in the third period.
The Panthers went 0-for-5 on their power play, getting 11 shots on goal with the man advantage.
—Field Level Media