SUNRISE — Goalie Ben Bishop said there's no good way for a winning streak to end.
But it was unexpected to see the Lightning's seven-game run snapped like this, getting thumped in a 5-2 loss to the Atlantic Division's first-place Panthers at BB&T Center on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay had built its streak on a strong work ethic, but it got outplayed and outscored 4-0 in a brutal second period. It got so bad that coach Jon Cooper not only replaced Bishop after two periods, but he pulled replacement Andrei Vasilevskiy with 10 minutes to go in the game for an extra attacker.
"They were just working harder than us," said Bishop, who deserved a better fate with 26 saves. "They outworked us in the second period. They wanted it more than us."
Said defenseman Victor Hedman: "One period cost us the game."
It also cost the Lightning (26-18-4) a chance to pull within one point of Florida. Now Tampa Bay sits five points back in the division, tied with Detroit and just one point ahead of Boston with one more game before the All-Star break.
"It's about moving on now and not letting that start a new streak," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We got ourselves back in the hunt. You know you're not going to win (them) all. It's one of those games that we just didn't play well and that's a good team."
It was a statement weekend for the Panthers, who beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 4-0 Friday and the Cup runnerup Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The Lightning had a chance to take the lead early in the game with three first-period power plays, but it came up empty. That appeared to give momentum to the Panthers, who took over in the second, outshooting Tampa Bay 19-5.
The Lightning had some good looks, but it missed the net, one-and-done possessions fueling the Panthers' transition. On a few of the Panthers' goals, the Lightning had a chance to clear the puck but either failed or got "too cute," Cooper said.
One Florida goal went in off Hedman's skate. Another came with one second left on a Panthers power play, shortly after Hedman and defenseman Braydon Coburn failed to clear the puck in front of the net.
"(The Panthers) worked hard and deserved the bounces," Hedman said. "We've been on the other side of that."
Panthers All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo, one night after shutting out the Blackhawks, was stellar again with 38 saves. His biggest arguably came after the Lightning made it 4-1 in the third, when he thwarted a Valtteri Filppula breakaway that would have cut Florida's lead to 4-2.
"That goes 4-2, who knows?" Cooper said.
Cooper said he hadn't planned on pulling Vasilevskiy so soon, but the Lightning was desperate. Even the shutdown line of J.T. Brown, Filppula and Ryan Callahan was a combined minus-6, on the ice for two Florida goals.
The Lightning has one game left before the All-Star break, Wednesday against Toronto.
"If you lose 1-0, you lose 5-2, you still lose," Cooper said. "The big thing is for us is this is behind us. This is a tough one to lose to a team that's ahead of us in the standings. How are we going to respond Wednesday? That's the big thing."
Contact Joe Smith at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
First Period—None. Penalties—Kulikov, Fla (high-sticking), :35; Palat, TB (hooking), 4:19; Jokinen, Fla (hooking), 6:45; Howden, Fla (hooking), 12:54; Filppula, TB (holding), 14:34.
Second Period—1, Florida, Huberdeau 8 (Barkov, Ekblad), 8:50. 2, Florida, Bjugstad 9 (Huberdeau), 12:36 (pp). 3, Florida, Smith 15, 15:56. 4, Florida, Trocheck 13 (Shaw, Jokinen), 17:33. Penalties—Johnson, TB (tripping), 10:37; Tampa Bay bench, served by Namestnikov (too many men), 13:32.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 4 (Johnson, Kucherov), 5:39 (pp). 6, Florida, Campbell 4 (Bjugstad, Jagr), 15:52 (en). 7, Tampa Bay, J..Brown 4 (Boyle), 18:31. Penalties—Kampfer, Fla (tripping), 3:40; Huberdeau, Fla (tripping), 6:21. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 13-5-22—40. Florida 11-19-5—35. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 5; Florida 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 19-14-3 (30 shots-26 saves), Vasilevskiy (0:00 third, 4-4). Florida, Luongo 21-13-4 (40-38).