Mike Santorelli. Source: The Canadian Press

Santorelli The Hero As Panthers Win Battle Of Florida.

If I told you before the last nights tilt that the Florida Panthers special teams would play a key role in the game, you’d figure that I was hallucinating.  How would the penatly kill unit stop the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis if there was a parade to the box?  How would one of the worst power plays in the league get a game changing goal?  And to top it off, what if I said that the team with one of the worst shootout records in the NHL got their chance they’d pull it out?

True on all counts.  The Florida Panthers managed to work hard again for 65 minutes plus the shootout to beat the South East Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3-2.  Mike Santorelli was your hero as he scored a game tying goal on a power play with three minutes left in regulation.  Santorelli wasn’t done there though as he then proceeded to get the only goal in the shootout for the Panthers giving them a rare shootout victory.  On the road as well.

The game started out wrong for the Panthers as Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on a slap shot from inside the blueline to give Tampa the lead with just under five minutes gone in the first.  Then the Lightning got a bit of a scare when Panther defenceman Mike Weaver checked Steven Stamkos into the boards.  Stamkos went in hard and may have even bumped his head slightly and stayed on the ice momentarily.  Weaver was given a two minute boarding penalty, and while the play looked awkward and worse than it really was in real time, it actually wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t a head shot, and it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to injure, but it will be something that is going to be talked about I am sure.  View the hit here, with the analysis from the Tampa announcers.

Stamkos would not miss any action, and actually played over 24 minutes and almost won the game in overtime as he clanked one off the post.  All three big guns for Tampa were held scoreless as the other Tampa goal was scored by journeyman Sean Bergenheim.  The other Panther goal was scored by David Booth who now has a team leading 17 markers on the season.

Scott Clemmensen started in net for the Panthers, as Peter DeBoer may not have been too happy with Tomas Vokoun’s performance on Friday night against the Red Wings.  Clemmensen stopped 34 shots in regulation and all three in overtime as well as all three in the shootout to pick up his sixth victory of the season. He made a huge point bland save on Marty St.Louis midway through the second period that could have swung the game in favor of the Lightning.  By the way, Marty hasn’t scored in his last nine games.

It was another one goal contest for Florida as they now have played a league leading 35.  Their record in these is 15-13-7, and 17 of their last 19 games have been decided this way.

The four game road trip continues on to New York where the Panthers will face Michael Grabner and the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon before continuing on to Ottawa and Atlanta.

Here’s the TSN boxscore for last night’s game.

Check out our Fansided rival Bolts By The Bay.

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Tags: Battle Of Florida Florida Panthers Mike Santorelli Mike Weaver Scott Clemmensen Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning

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