BY DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Times Staff Writer
TAMPA — Sometimes a goaltender simply beats you, and that Tuesday night is what happened to the Lightning.
Florida's Jacob Markstrom stacked his pads when he had to, flashed his glove when demanded.
And when it was over, he had 39 saves through regulation, three more in the shootout and the Panthers had a 3-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 17,904 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Give their goaltender credit," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He was really good."
Said Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman: "He was unbelievable."
He certainly was the difference as the Lightning (15-18-2), which lost its four-game home winning streak, had a 41-25 shot advantage, including 13-5 in the third period when goals by Tom Pyatt and Alex Killorn wiped out a two-goal deficit.
Defenseman Eric Brewer hit a post with 8:25 left, about a minute after Killorn tied it.
"I heard that ringing in my ears a few times," Cooper said. "Game of inches, I guess."
And disappointing for Tampa Bay that, with dim playoff hopes, it left a point on the table.
Still, there was plenty about which to be pleased. The shots were a season best and players did not let down after two Panthers power-play goals (both on deflections and both with Pyatt in the penalty box) made it 2-0 with 3:19 left in the second period.
The Lightning sent waves of players to the Panthers net with wing Teddy Purcell getting two assists and a season-best five shots. The defensemen were involved, too, especially Hedman who had an assist, three shots and four blocks in 27:31 of ice time.
It was almost enough to make you overlook a 0-for-3 power play and a first period in which Tampa Bay lost 12 of 16 faceoffs, though it rebounded to win 32 of 65 in the game.
"The bottom line is we played pretty well," said Cooper, whose team has earned five of six points since he was named coach. "I told the guys if we play like that consistently, we are going to win more games than we lose."
This time, though, Markstrom was just too good.
In the shootout Florida won 1-0, he stopped Hedman with a sprawling right-leg save and Steven Stamkos with his glove. In a 21-second span of the second he stopped point-blank shots from Killorn and Marty St. Louis.
"He made some unbelievable saves," Pyatt said. "We had so many chances, and chances in tight, those Grade A chances. That's the way it goes sometimes, you just get beat by a good goalie."
"Player of the game," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said of Markstrom. "He stood tall when we needed him."
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
First—1, Florida, Kopecky 13 (Brennan, Fleischmann), 8:36 (pp). Penalties—Pyatt, TB (hooking), 8:23; Parros, Fla (charging), 12:31; Upshall, Fla (hooking), 14:07.
Second—2, Florida, Rallo 1 (Brennan, Kuba), 16:41 (pp). Penalties—Parros, Fla, major (fighting), 6:44; Gudas, TB, major (fighting), 6:44; Pyatt, TB (interference), 14:56; Huberdeau, Fla (slashing), 18:00.
Third—3, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 7 (Purcell, Carle), 5:38. 4, Tampa Bay, Killorn 6 (Hedman, Purcell), 10:32. Penalties—None.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (interference), 4:59.
Shootout—Florida 1 (Mueller G, Huberdeau NG), Tampa Bay 0 (Purcell NG, Hedman NG, Stamkos NG). Shots—Florida 8-10-5-2—25. Tampa Bay 14-10-13-4—41. Power plays—Florida 2 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Goalies—Florida, Markstrom 6-7-1 (41 shots-39 saves). Tampa Bay, Garon 5-8-1 (25-23). A—17,904 (19,204). T—2:43.