TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher doesn't like shootouts — win or lose — because he doesn't believe a team game should be decided by an individual skills competition.
But what made Tampa Bay's 4-3 shootout loss Saturday night to the Panthers, the last-place team in the Lightning's Southeast Division, more frustrating was how the game got to that point.
"We gave them three goals," Boucher said.
The Lightning (13-8-3) showed a lot more effort and grit than in their 6-0 loss to the Capitals on Friday night. But miscues led to blowing a two-goal second-period lead, stunning the crowd of 15,854 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Lightning has dropped two straight after a five-game winning streak, with tough games on the road in Toronto and Boston ahead this week.
"We've got to bear down and close that game out," goalie Dan Ellis said of the Panthers. "That's two points that we need to have."
Ellis played well in his first start in nine days, making 24 saves through overtime and stopping the Panthers' first three shootout attempts. But in the fourth round, center Stephen Weiss deked Ellis and slipped the puck through his legs for the deciding goal.
"Luckily it went in," Weiss said.
The turning point, however, came in the second period. The Lightning had taken a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal by wing Teddy Purcell in the first period and a Dana Tyrell tally in the second. Tampa Bay was outplaying the Panthers, had all the momentum and had the man advantage again with about eight minutes left.
But Florida right wing Radek Dvorak got behind the Lightning defense for a great short-handed opportunity, and after getting tripped from behind by defenseman Pavel Kubina, he was awarded a penalty shot, which he converted. That ended Florida's goal drought at 130 minutes, 8 seconds.
"We weren't doing too much in the second period up until that point," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said.
"They were controlling play, and I think we were stuck on nine shots. It definitely gave us a shot of energy."
Another Florida goal came on what Boucher called a Lightning line-change mixup.
"(Boucher) talks about that all year," Purcell said. "That stuff wins and loses games, and tonight it lost it for us."
Said Marty St. Louis: "We didn't make it hard enough for them to get their goals."
Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, however, made it extremely difficult for the Lightning to score, racking up 34 saves, not including steering aside four shootout attempts.
The Lightning had a golden opportunity to win in regulation with a power play in the final minutes, but it couldn't cash in.
"They have an outstanding goaltender, and I think he made a difference tonight," Boucher said.
Said St. Louis: "He's their MVP."
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
|Panthers win shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Purcell 5 (Stamkos, Malone), 10:21 (pp). Penalties—Ohlund, TB (elbowing), 1:13; Weiss, Fla (hooking), 4:38; Weaver, Fla (high-sticking), 8:27; Malone, TB (hooking), 16:43.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Tyrell 3 (Ritola, Downie), 10:12. 3, Florida, Dvorak 5 (penalty shot), 12:22 (sh). Penalties—Wideman, Fla (hooking), 2:15; Hedman, TB (holding stick), 7:13; Weiss, Fla (hooking), 7:50; Hordichuk, Fla (roughing), 10:26; Moore, TB (slashing), 17:11.
Third Period—4, Florida, Kulikov 1, 3:08. 5, Florida, Matthias 4 (Santorelli), 8:31. 6, Tampa Bay, Bergenheim 4 (Purcell, Malone), 13:15. Penalties—Matthias, Fla (hooking), 9:23; McCabe, Fla (hooking), 17:20.
Shootout—Florida 1 (Higgins NG, Santorelli NG, Booth NG, Weiss G), Tampa Bay 0 (Purcell NG, Stamkos NG, Bergenheim NG, St. Louis NG). Shots on Goal—Florida 6-11-4-6—27. Tampa Bay 9-14-14-0—37. Power-play opportunities—Florida 0 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 7. Goalies—Florida, Vokoun 9-8-0 (37 shots-34 saves). Tampa Bay, Ellis 5-4-3 (27-24). A—15,854 (19,758).