Florida Panthers Snatch Two Points from Tampa Bay Lightning


Sep 25, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman

Aaron Ekblad

(5) skates with the puck during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers snatched victory from the jaws of another defeat Saturday night, winning an absolute thriller against their in-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The 5-4 shootout win was the Panthers first win in overtime this season, and perhaps the team’s most impressive win all season.

The game had huge ups and downs, so let’s jump into it:


That’s the resiliency we like to see.  It’s incredible to think that the Florida Panthers won that game.  First, there was the strange Roberto Luongo sequence from hell.  Then, the Lightning hit four goals, meaning the #Rothman3 would not suffice to even get a point.  Then when the Panthers miraculously got that tying goal from Aaron Ekblad with 38 seconds left, the Panthers would have to find that second point in overtime.  Somehow the Panthers found a way to win, and it I’m still astounded that it happened.

Brandon Pirri is a shootout machine.  How about this for an interesting stat:

Pirri walked right in on Ben Bishop twice, and shot the puck past him both times before the 6’7″ goalie could react.  He has emerged as the team’s best shootout option, and he’s almost automatic by adding little wrinkles in his slow moves on goal.  Bishop saw him twice and didn’t look any closer to guessing where he would go with the shot.

The little things.  Dave Bolland won a monster faceoff to set up Aaron Ekblad for the tying goal.  Brian Campbell had great defense against the ultra dangerous Steven Stamkos in overtime.  A completely gassed Ekblad drew a holding penalty in overtime to end the Lightning’s offense for the night.  There were a bunch of little things for the Panthers that helped seal a win that basically came out of nowhere.  Playoff teams do the “little things”, and tonight the Panthers played the part.


Bad Luongo.  That was not the Roberto Luongo I’ve been used to seeing.  In the first two periods the goaltender was completely out of sorts.  The first goal was the product of a terrible decision by Luongo to leave his crease and poke the puck away from a danger area.  He just poked the puck straight to J.T. Brown, before Cedric Paquette could knock the rebound into any empty net.  For the second goal, Luongo simply fell over on his side, and Vladislav Namestnikov scored into an empty net, without honor.  The third goal was the least officious, but it did involve Luongo sliding wildly across his crease to attempt to block a shot.  His did block it, but the rebound was a peach for Anton Stralman to eat.

But luckily, Luongo tightened things up.  The fourth Lightning goal couldn’t be blamed on Luongo, as it was a complete mess in front of the net before Namestnikov popped the puck into the net.  And Luongo was lights-out in overtime and the shootout, as he stopped a penalty shot from Steven Stamkos and three separate shootout attempts to seal a Panthers win.  It was a heck of a redemption story for the 36-year-old goaltender.

Power play in overtime not good enough.  The Panthers had a shot to win the game in overtime and avoid the shootout if they could just get some pucks to the net.  With 24 seconds left in overtime, the Panthers would have to be effective and efficient.  But unfortunately, the Panthers were neither in that short span of time.  Vincent Trocheck lost the faceoff in the offensive zone, a cardinal sin when your team is on a 4-on-3 power play.  After the Lightning dumped the puck, Jonathan Huberdeau had a chance at the top of the slot with only a few seconds left.  He opted to pass it to his left, but nobody in that area could get a shot off before overtime ended.  With a golden opportunity, the Panthers put no shots on Bishop’s net.  Luckily that wouldn’t come back to bite them.

Now I have to watch the Dolphins today.  And sometimes I think being a Panthers fan is difficult.

Next: Florida Panthers Gameday #17: Before I Sputter Out