Florida Panthers

Panthers let three-goal lead slip away as Lightning storm to victory in OT

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) and Florida Panthers right wing Juho Lammikko (91) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) and Florida Panthers right wing Juho Lammikko (91) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) AP

Three out of four ain’t bad.

That’s the most positive outlook for the Florida Panthers after they blew a three-goal, second-period lead and ended up losing 5-4 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

The net result was that the Panthers got three of a possible four points out of a roughly 24-hour period in which they played two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference standings – the Buffalo Sabres and the Lightning.

Brayden Point scored on a power play with 1:48 left in the extra session for Tampa Bay, but only after an interference call on Frank Vatrano gave the Lightning the man advantage.

Tampa Bay got the tying goal from Cedric Paquette with 8:19 left in the third, although his shot was saved by Florida’s James Reimer and then bounced in off the skate of Panthers forward Dryden Hunt.

Alex Killorn, Mathieu Joseph and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay. It was Kucherov’s 11thgoal of the season and his fifth on the power play.

Vatrano, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov scored for the Panthers.

Dadonov scored on the power play, giving the Panthers at least one goal with the man advantage in 14 of their past 15 games.

Tampa Bay’s Louis Domingue made 24 saves to improve his record dropped to 10-4-0. The Lightning have defeated the Panthers all three times this season.

Reimer made 34 saves.

Florida opened the scoring with two first-period goals within 11 seconds of each other, and both came on two-on-one rushes.

The first goal went to Vatrano, who had Jared McCann on his left but opted to snap a wrist shot that beat Domingue stick-side.

Barkov stole the puck along the left boards, cut to the net and buried his chance with a backhander.

Tampa made the score 2-1 just 44 seconds later. Killorn took a cross-ice pass from Mikhail Sergachev and one timed a slap-shot under Reimer’s glove.

Florida took a 3-1 lead with 2:11 expired in the second period. Sergachev had the puck on the fringes of Tampa Bay’s offensive zone. He tried to make a move, but Huberdeau made a steal and scored on a breakaway, faking a backhander, stopping and then jamming the puck in on his forehand.

Tampa Bay made two mistakes – too many men on the ice and delay of game as a result of Victor Hedman firing the puck over the glass – and that resulted in a power-play goal by Dadonov with 8:04 expired in the second period.

The Panthers not only had a 5-on-3 power play, they also took advantage of Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was momentarily taken out of the play when he took a Mike Hoffman slapshot off his left knee. Seven seconds later, Dadonov scored on the doorstep off a pass from Keith Yandle.

Taking advantage of a Panthers ill-timed line change, Tampa Bay cut its deficit to 4-2 on an odd-man rush with 13:00 gone in the second period. Joseph scored on a one-timer from the right circle, taking a pass from Kucherov, who had drawn three defenders.

After Florida’s Aaron Ekblad was sent off for a cross-check, Tampa Bay cashed in on a power-play goal by Kucherov, who scored over Reimer’s left shoulder. The Lightning held the puck in the offensive zone for 54 seconds before Kucherov finally scored on a one-timer off a Hedman pass.

Panthers defenders got their sticks on the puck five times during that sequence but couldn’t get it out of the zone.

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