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Kucherov scores in OT as Lightning beat Panthers

Friday, 09.27.2013 / 1:10 AM

Tim Thomas stopped nine of 10 shots in his first game since April 2012 before the Lightning rallied to win in Estero, Fla.

Thomas signed a one-year contract before game time after playing with the Panthers during camp on a professional tryout. Jonathan Huberdeau, making his first preseason appearance, gave him a 2-0 lead with a pair of power-play goals before Tyler Johnson's goal at 8:27 of the second got the Lightning on the board. Thomas left the game shortly afterward.

"It felt good for being the first time in a game-like atmosphere for 15 months," Thomas told the Miami Herald. "I think it was a necessary step for me. I thought it was good not to wait. We're running out of preseason games. I feel ready now."

Richard Panik's third-period shorthanded goal against Jacob Markstrom forced overtime before Nikita Kucherov won it at 4:04 of OT.

Ben Bishop went all the way and stopped 26 shots for Tampa Bay, which has won three times in overtime on the way to a 5-1-0 preseason mark. The teams meet again Saturday night in South Florida.

"We want to see who we have and who can contribute, and we are getting it from everybody, so it's been fun to watch," coach Jon Cooper said. "But this is the preseason and it gives us a chance to see what we have, and we like what we see. But let's be honest -- we've come on the positive side a lot in these games but you can make the argument we didn't outplay these teams. ... We've got a lot of work to do."

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