Florida Panthers Fall to the Lightning in Season Opener, 5-2

TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 03: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal during the home opener against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on October 03, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 03: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal during the home opener against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on October 03, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Heading into their season opener, the Florida Panthers were looking to start with a bang, prepared to battle the Lightning for two crucial points.

The Florida Panthers came storming out of the gates, immediately taking full possession of the puck and pinning the Lightning in their end.

During that same moment, forward Evgenii Dadonov got a piece of a point shot with his stick, but the puck trickled just wide of the post.

Off a rush moments later, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev tripped Mike Hoffman as he was prepared to blow by him at center ice. The Panthers received their first power play of the game but failed to cash in.

On a delayed penalty call that was going to Vincent Trocheck, the Bolts were playing keep-away with an extra skater (pulled Vasilevskiy) in the Panthers’ end.

The Cats couldn’t retrieve the puck – tired and out of position – and conceded to Nikita Kucherov off one of his famous one-timers.

Before the first period came to a close, Dryden Hunt had the final chance of the frame to equalize the game but rang a shot off the goal post, sending the Bolts to the locker room with a 1-0 advantage after the first twenty minutes of play.

In the second, the Panthers continued to press, searching for an equalizing goal. Thankfully enough, it came via Hoffman.

From behind the net, Vincent Trocheck fed an open Mike Hoffman out in front, who slotted a shot over Andrei Vasilevskiy to even the game at one.

After the Panthers received their second power-play opportunity and failed to make anything of it, Barkov and Dadonov both rushed down the ice on a two-on-none en route to Vasilevskiy’s goal.

Before Barkov reached the crease, he sent a pass to Dadonov – who was denied by Vasilevskiy in the process.

The Bolts went down the ice on a two-on-one of their own but were denied brilliantly by the sprawling Bobrovsky It was nothing short of highway robbery!

The Panthers continued to push and press but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal. Instead, it was Tampa who found it after their power play expired.

Kevin Shattenkirk took a point shot which deflected off Frank Vatrano, taking a weird turn on Bobrovsky to regain their one-goal lead (2-1).

Even after Shattenkirk’s flukey goal, the Panthers still kept their foot on the gas pedal but nothing seemed to budge. Despite their dominance over the Lightning in the second period, the Bolts would also escape after forty with a 2-1 lead in their column.

The third period started off with some tensions flaring as Vincent Trocheck and Steven Stamkos both exchanged shoves, with Aaron Ekblad and others jumping in shortly after.

It was after the commotion where Victor Hedman hooked Evgenii Dadonov, sending the Cats to their third man advantage of the night. But like the previous two, the Panthers failed to capitalize.

Right after Hedman exited the box, he drew a call on Vatrano. While the Panthers were on the penalty kill, Ekblad sent Trocheck on a fast break the other way, in which Trocheck buried a shot off his breakaway chance to tie the game at two apiece.

Twenty seconds after Trocheck’s goal and the Bolts regained their lead. This time, still on the power play, Ondrej Palat whacked at the loose rebound after the puck went up in the air when Bobrovsky blocked it with his blocker.

No matter how hard the Panthers fought, their efforts just weren’t rewarded. On the other hand, Tampa would find a two-goal cushion after Patrick Maroon stuffed a loose puck home that bounced and was sitting in Bobrovsky’s crease to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead.

The Bolts would kill off play and find an empty netter to seal the win, 5-2. The score, however, wasn’t indicative of the Panthers’ true play throughout this sixty-minute contest.

In fairness, the Cats were the better team tonight but failed to capitalize on the chances they created. The game came down to the Lightning’s clinical play, as well as their strong power-play performance.

Florida didn’t have an answer while a man down, and they certainly didn’t have an answer while a man up, either.

Next. What Should Quenneville Focus on this Year?. dark

Your Cats are back in action on Saturday, October 5 @ 7 P.M. against the Tampa Bay Lightning to closeout their doubleheader at the BB&T Center for their 2019-20 home opener!