SUNRISE — Karri Ramo was splitting hairs, but the Lightning goaltender wanted to set the record straight.
Reminded that entering Saturday's game with the Panthers he never had stopped a shootout attempt, he retorted, with a smile, "I had that one in the preseason."
Either way, there was no overlooking the three shootout stops Ramo made in a 4-3 victory at the BankAtlantic Center. That after 34 saves in regulation and overtime kept Tampa Bay in a game it seemed destined to lose.
Even coach Rick Tocchet said his players seemed "disinterested" through two periods, in which they were outshot 26-12, including 15-5 in the first.
"We were lucky to be where we were," center Jeff Halpern said.
The Lightning seems far removed from its 9-3 loss to the Hurricanes eight days ago.
Tampa Bay (23-32-14) won two straight to finish a 2-0-1 road trip. It ended the season series with Florida at 3-2-1 and put a small crimp in the Panthers' drive for a playoff spot.
"That's one point we took out of their bag," Ramo said. "We don't want them to get in the playoffs."
With a 3-1 third-period lead, it seemed Florida would get the two points. But Marty St. Louis' 26th goal with 6:18 left cut the deficit in half, and Halpern's tally with 3:30 left tied the score.
Steven Stamkos' brilliant multimove backhander beat Tomas Vokoun in the shootout, and Ramo stopped Cory Stillman, David Booth and Michael Frolik to improve the team's shootout record to 3-8.
"We just never gave up," said defenseman Richard Petiot, whose assists on the last two goals were his first NHL points. "It was a great team effort."
It was a strange game that began with a fight four seconds in as Florida's Ville Peltonen tried unsuccessfully to avenge the knee-to-knee hit with which Evgeny Artyukhin hit him in January.
There also was the fan behind the Lightning bench who was escorted out late in the game after he leaned over the glass and made obscene gestures at Artyukhin.
"Junior-league stuff," left wing Ryan Malone called it.
NHL-caliber was Ramo, who entered the game 0-for-4 in regular-season shootout attempts.
"You try to change the small things," he said. "I tried to react to what the guys were doing. I used to be too far away (from the goal) and had too much speed going back."
"He's really worked hard with (goaltenders coach Cap Raeder) on the mental part of the game as well as the physical," Tocchet said. "He was really solid on those breakaways; the best I've seen him."
|Lightning wins shootout 1-0|
|Lightning wins shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Florida, Frolik 18 (Booth), 15:49. Penalties—Artyukhin, TB, major (fighting), :04; Peltonen, Fla, major (fighting), :04; Welch, TB (interference), 4:55; Smaby, TB (interference), 9:58.
Second Period—2, Florida, Booth 25 (Stillman, Weiss), 17:11 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, Murphy 5 (St. Louis, Stamkos), 18:21 (pp). Penalties—Dvorak, Fla (holding), 7:50; Krajicek, TB (hooking), 16:18; Peltonen, Fla (tripping), 17:31.
Third Period—4, Florida, Booth 26 (Weiss, Frolik), 5:35. 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 26 (Krajicek, Petiot), 13:42. 6, Tampa Bay, Halpern 5 (Petiot, Prospal), 16:30. Penalties—Booth, Fla (hooking), :27; Dvorak, Fla (holding), 9:38.
Shootout—Tampa Bay 1 (Stamkos G, Lecavalier NG), Florida 0 (Stillman NG, Booth NG, Frolik NG). Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 5-7-10-5—27. Florida 15-11-9-2—37. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 4; Florida 1 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ramo 4-7-3 (37 shots-34 saves). Florida, Vokoun 22-19-5 (27-24). A—17,734 (19,250).