|@ Panthers (28-15-5)||0||4||1||5|
The game started off with a prompt high sticking penalty on Dmitry Kulikov less than a minute in. The penalty was killed, even if it meant Luongo taking a puck to the face. The Panthers were able to generate offense but were still crippled by the fact that the Lightning got a head start with their power play. The Panthers would get a chance to even up the shots on goal when Ondrej Palat was penalized for hooking. The Panthers certainly gave Bishop a hard time but were unable to score. Then, in the game of back and forth that has been occurring, Jussi Jokinen was sent to the penalty box on a hooking call. Logan Shaw, who is clearly very good at skating the puck into the offensive zone, helped the Panthers kill the penalty.
The Panthers gained some traction in the few minutes following that penalty, but the game was still scoreless. With 7:06 left in the period, Quinton Howden was penalized for hooking and the Lightning had yet another advantage on their hands. This advantage was truncated, though, as Valtteri Filppula was sent to the box on a holding call. The penalties were both killed and both teams got what seemed to be their first even strength opportunities of the game. At the end of the period, the game was scoreless but the Lightning held the lead in shots on goal 13-11. The Panthers played well at both ends of the ice but should tighten up their defense a bit in order to be able to pull ahead of the hot Bolts. Will the Panthers be able to win this game? Will Luongo be lively enough to stop Stamkos and the Lightning? Will these two teams play 5-on-5 hockey at all in this game? Will the Lightning fans in section 114 ever shut up? All of these questions and more will be answered in the next two periods.
The first five minutes of the second period made one thing very clear: these were two very evenly matched teams. After a Logan Shaw breakaway, the Panthers started to liven up and get more opportunities. Eventually, they were able to convert one of those opportunities to a goal. Jonathan Huberdeau scored and the goal was assisted by Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad. The Panthers would get a power play chance right after their goal because Tyler Johnson was called for tripping. Nick “Rotisserie Chicken” Bjugstad was able to score in the final seconds of the power play to widen the Panthers’ lead.
The goal was assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau. The power plays just kept rolling in for the Panthers as the Lightning had too many men on the ice. The penalty was killed but that didn’t stop Reilly Smith from sliding the puck past Bishop just minutes after the Bjugstad goal.
Ben Bishop couldn’t stop a beach ball this period. Vincent Trocheck got the puck up over Bishop’s head and scored the team’s fourth of the period and game. The goal was assisted by Logan Shaw and Jussi Jokinen. At the end of the period, the Panthers were up 4-0 and also led in shots on goal 30-18. This period was a total dominative one for the Panthers. They scored their magical third goal along with an extra one for good measure. The penalties didn’t end this period, but they certainly benefitted the Panthers this time. The Panthers were finally able to capitalize on a power play opportunity, something they have been struggling with for a few games now.
Andrei Vasilevskiy started the period in net for the Lightning, which is unsurprising after the period that Bishop had. The Panthers weren’t really putting the pressure on him, though. Instead, Roberto Luongo had to do some heavy lifting to keep the lead alive. He would continue to do this during a penalty kill caused by a Steven Kampfer tripping call. Yet, he couldn’t do everything. Late in the penalty kill, Victor Hedman scored to put the Lightning on the board. To make matters worse, Jonathan Huberdeau was sent to the sin bin on a tripping call. Unlike the last penalty, this one was killed. There was a total shift in play this period and the Lightning were dominating possession. They clearly weren’t that confident in their comeback abilities, though, because they pulled Vasilevskiy with 10:34 left in the period.
The rest of the game was spent similarly to in last night’s game against Chicago, with the Lightning pulling Vasilevskiy and then bringing him back. Brian Campbell put the final nail on the Lightning’s coffin when he scored through traffic on the empty net. The goal was assisted by Nick Bjugstad and Jaromir Jagr. J.T. Brown scored with just over a minute left but it didn’t matter. The Panthers won their second game in two nights.
Logan Shaw was not able to score tonight but his sheer ability to generate breakaways and get the puck to the net did not go unnoticed tonight. Quinton Howden’s speed was also appreciated tonight. Jonathan Huberdeau got the ball rolling (or the puck sliding?) with the first goal of the night. He also assisted the next goal, which was scored by Nick Bjugstad. Nick Bjugstad remained a shining star with two points in tonight’s win. Reilly Smith continued his goal scoring ways tonight with a beauty in the second. Vincent Trocheck widened the lead to four on a goal that went right over Bishop’s head, literally. Brian Campbell began a two game goal streak when scoring an empty netter. Roberto Luongo played back-to-back games and consequently won back-to-back games.
The Panthers will finish off their home stand on Tuesday, January 26th against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.