Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (SO)

Peter Mueller makes the difference in Florida Panthers’ shootout win

 

Rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 39 shots, and Peter Mueller scored in the shootout as the Panthers held on after losing a 2-0 lead.

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon wasn’t at Tuesday’s game. Instead, he stayed behind in South Florida as the NHL’s trade deadline fast approaches.

Tallon recently said he doesn’t expect to make too many moves as the deadline hits at 3 p.m. Wednesday for a number of reasons. One is there are players here he likes, players who have made the Panthers respectable again these past few weeks.

On Tuesday, the Panthers kept their modest winning ways going as they earned their first three-game winning streak of the 2013 season by beating the host Lightning 3-2 in a shootout at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Florida’s past three wins have all come in overtime as the Panthers have improved to 4-6 in the extra sessions. Two of the three wins have come in shootouts.

“We will take it. It’s all baby steps,’’ coach Kevin Dineen said. “You build on little things and it had nothing to do with the coaches. You can see the players have enjoyed this little bit of success we’ve had. It makes things better. It’s enjoyable coming to the rink every day.’’

The Lightning leads the league in third-period goals, having scored 51 of their 111 goals in the final 20 minutes as Tampa Bay bounced back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring twice in the third.

Rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom turned in another spectacular effort, sweeping away 27 shots before the high-scoring Lightning got on the board. The Lightning ended up taking 41 shots on Markstrom — not including the three he stopped in the shootout.

“We knew they were going to come hard. Down 2-0, they didn’t have much of a choice,’’ said Markstrom, who made four stops in overtime and who has given up just 14 goals in his past seven starts.

Florida, not surprisingly, is 5-2-0 during that stretch.

“I’m just trying to work hard and I’m getting a lot of help from my defense. They are blocking a lot of shots. We are winning and that is nice. But there are things we can improve on.’’

The Panthers held a 2-0 lead going into the third thanks to a pair of power play goals from Tomas Kopecky and Greg Rallo — scores facilitated by long shots from defenseman T.J. Brennan.

Tampa Bay scored two goals on three shots during the third with Tom Pyatt charging in on Markstrom and deflecting a Teddy Purcell shot through 5:38 into the period. Later, Adam Killorn worked a rebound past Markstrom.

In the shootout, Peter Mueller scored on Florida’s first attempt. Markstrom did the rest.

“Markstrom was the difference maker to me,’’ Dineen said. “He was the player of the game in my mind. They had some real quality opportunities. Shots can be deceptive sometimes. This wasn’t one of them. Markstrom made some great saves.’’

NEWS, NOTES

Brennan was credited with both Florida goals, only to have them taken away.

Game officials reviewed the plays during the respective intermission and ruled Kopecky and Rallo got a piece of the puck before it went in. Brennan was awarded the first assist on both.

Rallo’s goal goes down as his first in NHL play.

“It’s all right. We’ll take the goals because it doesn’t matter who is getting them,’’ said Brennan, who scored in his first game with the Panthers on March 16 after being acquired in a deal with Buffalo. “I’m just trying to get pucks to the net, create some offense. We’re just keeping it simple.’’

• Drew Shore missed the game with an undisclosed injury, although Dineen said it wasn’t serious and he expected Shore back in the lineup Saturday.

• Rallo was brought up from AHL San Antonio and played on Florida’s fourth line Tuesday.

• For the first time in more than a month, the Panthers have time off for rest and practice. Florida, which played 16 games in March, play just twice this week with the next game Saturday against Washington.

The Panthers plan to practice Wednesday in Coral Springs before taking Thursday off.

“This might be our first three-day break all year,’’ Dineen said. “Where was this in February?’

• Center Mike Santorelli was placed on waivers, but played Tuesday.

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