SUNRISE — Lightning coach Guy Boucher challenged his team to play more desperate and relentless Saturday night against the Panthers in the finale of a seasonlong five-game road trip.
And Tampa Bay certainly did that, tying the score twice in the third period, including Marc-Andre Bergeron's tally with just more than two minutes left that sent the game into overtime.
"We gave everything we had," Boucher said.
But it wasn't enough, as the Lightning fell 3-2 in a shootout in front of a sellout home-opening crowd at the BankAtlantic Center.
Tampa Bay (1-2-2) boarded a late flight home, having lost three straight to end the trip (two in shootouts), and will try to collect itself before Monday's home opener at the St. Pete Times Forum, a rematch with Florida.
"I think everyone has a lot better in them," center Steven Stamkos said. "So hopefully this little one-day rest (today) before we head on home ice (will help), and hopefully we can feel some fire under all of us and get things going. Because at the end of the day, we'll take the point, but we're not satisfied.
"It's not up to our standards."
The Lightning was a comeback team last season en route to a remarkable run to the Eastern Conference final. But what Tampa Bay has found is, Boucher says, "any team can beat us, plain and simple."
When Florida's Marcel Goc scored the only shootout goal, with the Lightning's three top stars — Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier — missing their attempts, the Panthers became the latest.
"We're going to have to find a way. Right now we're on the hard way," Bergeron said. "It seems like we're a little bit floating from the performance from last year. There's no more easy games, and teams are waiting for us."
Bergeron's two goals powered the Lightning offense, which was missing a few regulars; wings Teddy Purcell and Ryan Shannon were healthy scratches. The Lightning turned the puck over less, but it hurt itself with 10 penalties, three coming in Steve Downie's lengthy second-period fight with Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
The Panthers made Tampa Bay pay with two power-play goals, which snapped Tampa Bay's season-opening streak of killing 22 consecutive penalties.
Goalie Mathieu Garon, making his second start for the Lightning, was sharp, making 36 saves. But he lamented Goc's shootout goal, which went between his legs after he tried to poke check the puck away from the center.
"I usually don't do that," Garon said. "I don't know why I reacted that way. (Goc) had his head down a little bit. I thought maybe I'd surprise him, but it wasn't the right thing to do."
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Florida, Jovanovski 1 (Kopecky, Booth), 11:48 (pp). Penalties—Carter, Fla (roughing), 3:18; Ritola, TB (elbowing), 5:32; Moore, TB (goaltender interference), 10:48; Kubina, TB (interference), 12:24; Lecavalier, TB (interference), 15:14; Jovanovski, Fla (interference), 19:08.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Clark, TB (tripping), 12:16; Downie, TB, minor-major-misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 12:16; Gudbranson, Fla (unsportsmanlike conduct, instigator, fighting), 12:16; Moore, TB (tripping), 14:40.
Third Period—2, Tampa Bay, Bergeron 1 (Moore), 9:43. 3, Florida, Versteeg 1 (Kulikov, Campbell), 17:05 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Bergeron 2 (Kubina, St. Louis), 17:44. Penalties—Kubina, TB (interference), 15:42.
Shootout—Tampa Bay 0 (St. Louis NG, Stamkos NG, Lecavalier NG), Florida 1 (Versteeg NG, Goc G, Fleischmann NG). Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-7-9-5—30. Florida 14-15-9-0—38. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Florida 2 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Garon 0-1-1 (38 shots-36 saves). Florida, Theodore 2-1-0 (30-28). A—18,352 (17,040). T—2:39. Referees—Brad Meier, Kyle Rehman. Linesmen—Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot.