SUNRISE – When the Panthers left the ice after 40 minutes of hockey Friday night at BankAtlantic Center, they were down two goals to the Lightning after a sloppy second period.
Coach Peter DeBoer figured it was time to shake things up.
After replacing starting goalie Tomas Vokoun for Craig Anderson to start the third period, DeBoer also changed his forward lines. The result? The Panthers shook off the cobwebs of a two-day break and scored two goals in the final 6:23 to earn a point in their 4-3 shootout loss to the Lightning.
After Cory Stillman brought the Panthers to within one with a power play goal at 13:37 of the final period, defenseman Bryan McCabe beat Lightning goalie Mike Smith with a blast from between the faceoff circles with :13.9 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Panthers five out of a possible six points on their three-game homestand.
Despite goals from Stillman and Nathan Horton in the shootout, Ryan Malone beat Anderson in sudden death to give the Lightning their second consecutive victory. Lightning coach Rick Tocchet didn’t use either Vinny Lecavalier or Martin St. Louis in the shootout.
While the Panthers earned their 18th point in their last 12 games, the message from DeBoer was simple regarding the second half of this home-and-home series Saturday in Tampa.
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“We have to be better,” DeBoer said.
The Panthers (16-13-5) and Lightning both came out a bit sloppy in the opening period after the two-day Christmas break. “It took us a while to get our legs,” Booth said. “That’s not an excuse, though.”
Despite coming out a bit slow, the Panthers left after 20 minutes with the game tied at one. After Lightning defenseman Steve Eminger beat Vokoun on what appeared a harmless shot from the blue line at 11:24, Keith Ballard tied the game at 18:28 on a shot from the left point.
Unfortunately, the Panthers couldn’t keep the momentum in the second period. They were outshot 18-9 and DeBoer was disappointed with the lack of pressure from his forwards. It certainly didn’t help the Lightning made it 3-1 when Mark Recchi and Evgeny Artyukhin scored goals late in the period within 1:34.
“That second period was pretty bad,” said Stephen Weiss. “We turned the puck over too much.”
With Anderson in net and DeBoer mix-and-matching lines, the Panthers came back with Stillman knocking in the puck from the side of the Lightning net to make it 3-2 and then McCabe, who minutes earlier banged one off the post, slapping the puck past Smith with the help of Radek Dvorak, who prevented a Lightning clear seconds earlier from the side boards with Anderson out of the net.
After a scoreless overtime, the Lightning got goals in the shootout from Adam Hall, Jussi Jokinen and Malone. Smith made a pad save on Weiss while Michael Frolik never got a clean shot away.
DeBoer admitted he was disappointed with his team’s play in the second period, “but we’ll look on the bright side,” he added. “We found a way to get a point.”
McCabe, who has six goals, 14 points and is a plus-10, called the point earned “big.”
“We were certainly not at our best tonight,” he said. “But we found a way to salvage a point at least, get it to the shootout. We battled really hard on a night we probably weren’t that great. But that’s what you have to do.”
They hope to do it better Saturday in Tampa.
The Lightning blocked a whopping 25 Panther shots, including four during a third-period power play. The Panthers had four blocked shots…Keith Ballard had a huge game for the Panthers, not only scoring a goal but sweeping away two pucks from the Panther goal line…The Panthers got to know the Lightning’s 6-5 Evgeny Artyukhin a little better Friday evening. The big Russian not only scored but fought Nick Tarnasky in the first period and Nick Boynton at the end of the second period…Gregory Campbell won 11 of 16 faceoffs and had four hits...Defenseman Jassen Cullimore didn’t dress for the second consecutive game due to a hand injury. Noah Welch was back on the blue line. Anthony Stewart was a healthy scratch.
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 TBL
3 - 1 TBL
3 - 2 TBL