Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Florida Panthers 5-2

Antero Niittymaki looks into the net as Cory Stillman scores one of his two-first period goals that gave Florida a 2-0 lead. Niittymaki was pulled after allowing all five goals in two periods.

Getty Images

Antero Niittymaki looks into the net as Cory Stillman scores one of his two-first period goals that gave Florida a 2-0 lead. Niittymaki was pulled after allowing all five goals in two periods.

SUNRISE — Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was hoping for some more "heartbeats" from his team Saturday, coming off one of its most frustrating losses of the season two days earlier against the Panthers.

Instead, Florida handed Tampa Bay more heartbreak in a 5-2 loss at the BankAtlantic Center. The Lightning brought more effort and more fight, and racked up more shots than Florida, peppering Tomas Vokoun with 49.

But goalie Antero Niittymaki put it simply: "We needed a better goalie tonight."

Niittymaki gave up five goals on 18 shots, including three on the first eight he saw, and shouldered the blame for the loss.

"I thought we were dominating them. Too bad we had a pretty bad goalie tonight," Niittymaki said. "I just couldn't stop the puck. That's why we lost. It's that simple. It was an embarrassing performance."

At a point in the season where the Lightning is fighting for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, a second straight defeat to its Southeast Division rival took away momentum derived from back-to-back wins last week over the East's top two teams, the Devils and Capitals.

"It's January, it's a playoff-type game that we needed to win," defenseman Kurtis Foster said. "So we're disappointed we didn't get the W.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of guys pretty upset on the flight (Saturday night)."

Tampa Bay showed fight in the first period, when it outshot the Panthers 20-8 and battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score, but it trailed by a goal heading into the second.

Wing Alex Tanguay scored midway through the first off a pass by center Vinny Lecavalier on an odd-man rush, and defenseman Andrej Meszaros added a power-play goal on a slap shot from the point for the tie. But the Panthers scored three straight to put Tampa Bay (18-19-10) away.

"They capitalized on their chances," center Steven Stamkos said.

Tocchet said his team made some "critical mistakes" on the penalty kill, and it cost them. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay couldn't crack Vokoun, who made 47 saves. Said Foster: "He stood on his head."

Niittymaki was pulled for the third period, replaced by Dustin Tokarski, who made his NHL debut after being called up from AHL Norfolk last week. Tokarski made five saves and didn't allow a goal.

With the loss, the Lightning fell to 13th in the 15-team East.

"I don't know what to say," Niittymaki said. "It was one of the worst games I've played for a while, in the past couple years. And it was not at a good time."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Panthers 3 2 0 5
Lightning 2 0 0 2

First Period1, Florida, Stillman 8 (Reinprecht, Ballard), 4:07 (pp). 2, Florida, Stillman 9 (Ballard), 10:28. 3, Tampa Bay, Tanguay 7 (Lecavalier), 11:44. 4, Tampa Bay, Meszaros 4 (Halpern, Lecavalier), 16:31 (pp). 5, Florida, Allen 3 (Stillman, Dvorak), 17:03. PenaltiesOhlund, TB (slashing), 2:53; Horton, Fla (hooking), 5:59; McCabe, Fla (roughing), 15:21.

Second Period6, Florida, Olesz 12 (Campbell, Moore), 5:02. 7, Florida, Olesz 13 (Ballard, Leopold), 12:36 (pp). PenaltiesLundin, TB (slashing), 8:03; Foster, TB (holding), 10:45; Garrison, Fla (high-sticking), 14:43.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesMoore, Fla (delay of game), 3:48. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 20-8-21—49. Florida 8-10-5—23. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 4; Florida 2 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Niittymaki 8-8-4 (18 shots-13 saves), Tokarski (0:00 third, 5-5). Florida, Vokoun 15-14-8 (49-47). A15,971 (19,250).

Panthers 5

Lightning 2

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Florida Panthers 5-2 01/16/10 [Last modified: Sunday, January 17, 2010 12:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with Cobb on hill, Beckham in lineup


    UPDATE, 3:46: After sitting out Thursday in recovering from extraction of a tooth, former Rays SS Tim Beckham is in the Orioles lineup tonight for his first game against his ex-mates, batting leadoff and playing short.

  2. Bucs defensive end Chris Baker (90) is seen during training camp last month at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs' defensive attributes in opener included flexibility


    TAMPA — It's a blink-and-you-miss-it nuance, but in Sunday's opener against Chicago, on their very first defensive snap, the Bucs lined up in a 3-4 defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter shakes hands with cornerback Brent Grimes (24) before an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  4. Bucs-Vikings: What if O.J. Howard and Dalvin Cook had both been taken?


    So what if the Bucs had taken neither O.J. Howard nor Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Wish the Bucs had taken Dalvin Cook? Read this


    It will happen sometime Sunday afternoon.

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball in the second quarter Monday night, Sept. 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.  (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)