Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was going to bench Brad Boyes on Sunday, but when Tomas Fleischmann called in sick, Boyes was back in.
Boyes scored the tying goal to help force overtime in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 shootout win over Florida at BB&T Center. Florida never led as the Lightning twice held two-goal leads. But Boyes’ goal helped the Panthers to get at least one point in the standings.
“That’s a coach’s dream,” Dineen said. “Someone is going to get [benched] and instead gets a little life, gets back in there. ... He’s made for those kind of moments. It was a professional response by him.”
Boyes admitted his emotions were up and down this weekend as he was benched for much of the third period of Friday’s loss to the Sabres and was on a scratch line at Saturday’s practice.
On Saturday, Boyes said he wanted to prove he belonged in the lineup. Sunday he did just that.
Not only did Boyes score his team-leading fifth goal midway through the third, but his shootout goal forced a fourth round. Boyes has 33 goals in 73 shootout attempts, tying him with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk as the league’s active leader.
“Obviously I was down when I got the news, then I got on the ice [Sunday],” Boyes said. “I did what I could to get back in. I got an unfortunate break by having one of our best guys out.”
Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Dmitry Kulikov failed to score in the shootout.
Tampa Bay got two shootout goals past Jacob Markstrom with Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos scoring to give Tampa Bay its second win over the Panthers this season. The Lightning beat Florida 7-2 in its home opener on Oct. 10.
Sunday looked like it might be a repeat of that rout as the Lightning stormed to a 2-0 lead with Martin St. Louis and Stamkos scoring on two of Tampa’s first three shots.
Shawn Matthias cut the deficit in half by scoring his first goal of the season with 6:12 left in the period.
“It’s nice to get that monkey off my back, but it [stinks] we lost it,” Matthias said. “We played really well this homestand and it’s a shame we didn’t get two points in all of them. We fought back again.”
Tampa Bay got a power play goal in the second when Radko Gudas’ long shot clipped Mike Weaver and got past Markstrom for a 3-1 lead.
Florida charged back in the third, though, with Nick Bjugstad getting his first of the year as he redirected a Scottie Upshall shot past Anders Lindback.
About three minutes later and it was Boyes’ turn. Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat left the puck sitting right in front of the net and Boyes hopped on it, backhanding the puck between the goalies’ skates. Florida came close to taking the lead moments later, but Matthias’ point blank shot was stopped.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted,” Boyes said. “We’ve responded but we’re on the backend when we get back into games.”
Gudas was kicked out of the game after he hit the ice in front of the Florida bench and then smashed his stick up against the bench area nearly striking both Bjugstad and Upshall.
Why was Gudas so mad? Because Upshall squirted him with Gatorade — blue, Upshall confirmed — while Gudas was down on the ice.
“He overreacted a bit,” said Upshall, who was hit with a bench penalty for the dousing. “He’s a guy who plays a bit on the edge. He plays hard and he was fired up, took a run at our guy by the bench and fell. I think he was embarrassed he fell. You would think it was the end of the world. He was freaked out.”
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said he felt that not only was Gudas’ punishment too steep, but Upshall’s wasn’t enough. Dineen didn’t agree with that assessment.
“I was concerned for our players. When you chop your stick like that, it can be very dangerous,” Dineen said. “The stick is a very dangerous weapon. ... [Gudas] was understandably upset, but that’s certainly the wrong response by that young man.”