Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kept his points streak alive as the host Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Thursday night at Sunrise, Fla.
Tampa Bay had its six-game win streak broken.
Bobrovsky (5-0-1), who has yet to lose in regulation this season, made 19 saves. It’s the best season-opening win-loss start ever by a Panthers goalie.
The Panthers got goals from Frank Vatrano, Alex Wennberg, Aaron Ekblad, Carter Verhaeghe and Brett Connolly (empty net). Wennberg and Ekblad also added assists, and Verhaeghe’s goal was his seventh of the season, a team high.
For Tampa Bay, Brayden Point scored twice, both on power plays. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves, and Victor Hedman added two assists.
Vasilevskiy, who went 3-1-0 against the Panthers last season, fell behind 1-0 in the first period when Panthers rookie Owen Tippett, operating from behind the net, fed Vatrano for a goal from point-blank range.
The Panthers went up 2-0 with 8:31 gone in the second. Wennberg got the goal on a rush, but it was Jonathan Huberdeau who set him up perfectly for a tap-in shot.
Tampa Bay got on the board with 10:55 expired in the second. The Panthers were penalized for too many men on the ice, and Point made them pay with a shot that skipped over Bobrovsky’s right pad. The primary assist went to Ondrej Palat, who occupied three defenders before passing ahead to Point.
The Panthers, however, scored the next two goals to end the second period with a 4-1 lead.
First, with the Panthers on the power play, Ekblad took a pass from Keith Yandle and scored on an absolute blast from the left circle. Vasilevskiy was screened by Florida’s Patrick Hornqvist on the play.
Then, with 5:05 left in the period, Verhaeghe was denied initially by Vasilevskiy. But Verhaeghe chased down his own rebound and fired from a bad angle on the right side, with the puck bouncing in off the skate of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak.
Tampa Bay cut its deficit to 4-2 just 54 seconds into the third. Point used his speed to blow by Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, creating a breakaway. Point finished by beating a stunned Bobrovsky with a high shot to the short side.
But Connolly’s empty-netter with one minute left ended Tampa Bay’s comeback hopes. It was Connolly’s first goal of the season.
–Field Level Media