TAMPA — One of coach Jon Cooper's priorities this season is to get the Lightning's penalty kill to chip in some shorthanded goals.
Tampa Bay had only five the past four seasons, fewest in the league. To help change that, Cooper has put some of his top offensive players on the penalty kill, including Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.
That combination paid off Thursday in a 7-2 win over the Panthers when Stamkos scored Tampa Bay's first shorthanded goal since Ryan Malone's on March 26, 2012, at Philadelphia. The Lightning's previous shorty at home was Jan. 23, 2011, by Nate Thompson against the Thrashers, a team that no longer exists.
"We haven't had that in our playbook the last couple of years," said Stamkos, who deflected in St. Louis' pass for a 2-0 first-period lead over the Panthers. "It's tough if you have the puck and put pressure on them and score a goal, that just deflates the other team."
"You're just trying to limit their Grade A scoring chances," St. Louis said. "You're trying to give them shots that they don't really want to take. But they take them, and they're ones the goalie can stop."
And if you can chip in a goal in the process, "that's a killer," Stamkos said.
PANIK ATTACK: Though F Tom Pyatt is out until at least Thanksgiving with a broken collarbone, a callup from AHL Syracuse was not made. Instead, Richard Panik, scratched Tuesday against the Sabres, was in the lineup on a line with C Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn.
Panik was to be back in the lineup anyway, Cooper said, but must know "you have to bring it every single night." That is an important message for Panik, whom Cooper called "an unreal talent" who has fought inconsistency since his days in the minors.
"It's been a work in progress," said Cooper, who coached Panik at AHL Norfolk and Syracuse. "When he's going he can really impact a game. He's going to be a really good player in this league. This is just growing pains."
Said Panik, who has zero points and is minus-3 after Thursday's game: "I have to get back to the small things, like backcheck hard and play the body. Focus on it and I can build off it." He had three hits, no shots and was minus-1 in 17:10 of ice time.
CRUNCH: Pyatt said he knew he was hurt Tuesday when Buffalo F Marcus Foligno put him hard into the corner boards with a clean hit about seven minutes into the third period. "I felt a crunch," he said, "and I knew something was up." Pyatt said he will be in a sling at least two to three weeks.
GOVERNOR'S CUP: Beginning this season, the Lightning and Panthers will compete for the Governor's Cup, awarded to the winner of the season series.
SEASON TICKETS: Tampa Bay has sold about 11,500 full season tickets. Including partial plans, the total is 12,500, the team said.
ODDS AND ENDS: St. Louis' two points gave him 917 in his career to pass D Bobby Orr for 94th all time. … Thompson won 12 of 13 faceoffs (92 percent). … RW Teddy Purcell tied a career high with three assists. … Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were scratched.