1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning just a bit out of sorts in 4-3 loss to Panthers

The Game 2 miscues are certainly avoidable going forward.
Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14) reacts after the Florida Panthers make a late save in Tampa Bay's 4-3 loss. [BRYNN ANDERSON | AP]
Published Oct. 6
Updated Oct. 6

SUNRISE — The Lightning knew there would be mistakes early in the season. Jon Cooper said as much before Saturday’s game against the Panthers.

“You just hope the mistakes you make in Games 1 and 2 are not as glaring as Games 25 and 30, and Games 45 and 50,” he said before a 4-3 loss at BB&T Center. “It’s going to be expected early on. You just have to work through it.”

The key is what kinds of mistakes are made. For the Lightning, their too many miscues Saturday weren’t severe, just costly.

“The mistakes aren’t effort mistakes,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said after the game. “They aren’t lazy plays or anything like that. It’s maybe miscommunication, guys being on the same page. That takes time.”

Cooper’s view is right. Game 2 is too early to panic, but Saturday wasn’t a good look for the Lightning.

RELATED: Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy makes 200th career start

After talking in training camp about limiting penalties, the Lightning went more than a period without one against the Panthers. Then they took three in a little more than five minutes and gave up two power-play goals to Mike Hoffman, putting Florida up 2-0. Then they gave up a third goal to Noel Acciari less than 10 seconds after the third penalty expired.

In that short span, the game changed.

The Lightning have a way of never being out of a game, and Mathieu Joseph pulled them within a goal with 4:31 to play after they went down 4-1 17 seconds into the third when Hoffman completed his hat trick.

Steven Stamkos was left all alone in his favorite spot and scored one of his patented one-timers from the left circle 6:40 into the period to make it 4-2.

After Joseph scored his first of the season, the Lightning kept pressuring and had chances with an empty net. But the Panthers kept finding ways to clear the zone, keeping the Lightning from sustaining that pressure.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates a goal during the third period. [BRYNN ANDERSON | AP]

“What I really liked was our pushback,” Cooper said after the game. “It was tough giving up that goal early in the third, but I thought we took over the game, even down 4-1.”

Gemel Smith put the Lightning on the board with less than four minutes left in the second, scoring his first goal with the Lightning to make it 3-1. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a save on Pat Maroon’s initial shot. Luke Witkowski jumped on the rebound, and the puck was on its way in when Smith tapped it to make sure it got there.

“It was exciting, especially to get one when we were down to kind of bring back momentum,” Smith said. “It was good to get the goal.”

RELATED: Lightning hit the right notes on opening celebration

The spurt of penalties in the second period felt worse because the Lightning had started the game playing just the way they wanted to. They hadn’t scored, but they had their chances.

The Panthers had elevated their game as well from their loss in the teams’ season opener Thursday night, so the Lightning weren’t dominating, but the matchup had the makings of a good one.

A too-many-men penalty, a hook and a high stick caught the Lightning in the second. And their special teams, which had been strong Thursday, couldn’t bail them out.

Even the two power plays they did have didn’t look smooth. The Lightning failed to sustain pressure the way they do so well.

“It came down to we needed to kill one more of those penalties, and we couldn’t do it,” Cooper said.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his second goal of the game during the second period of Tampa Bay's 9-3 victory over the New York Rangers Thursday at Amalie Arena. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Alex Killorn’s decision to just skate away Thursday night is part of a positive trend in Tampa Bay.
  2. Yesterday• Sports
    Jameis Winston (3) points to fans after the Bucs' 2017 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Previewing Bucs-Saints, justice for the Astros, answers for the Lightning.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Lightning 9, Rangers 3: Tampa Bay posts its highest-scoring game of the last two seasons.
  4. Pictured from the center ice display, LT Robert McClintock, 101 years old, from the US Army Air Corps (Ret.), performs the National Anthem along with USAF Technical Sergeant (Ret.) Sonya Bryson (not pictured) before the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the New York Rangers on Military Appreciation Night at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Lightning brought back Robert McClintock to join Sonja Bryson, also a veteran, for Military Appreciation Night
  5. The Lightning return to home ice and dominate the Rangers
  6. The Lightning's Victor Hedman (77). Alex Killorn (17) and Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate after an NHL hockey game against the Sabres in Globen Arena, Stockholm last week. ANDERS WIKLUND/TT  |  AP
    Tampa Bay’s schedule returns to a more normal pace tonight when it takes on the young, gritty Rangers.
  7. In this March 24, 2010, file photo, hockey personality Don Cherry, right, speaks during a news conference as actor Jared Keeso is displayed on a video screen while playing Cherry in the bio film "Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story" in Toronto. Sportsnet cut ties with Cherry on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, after the veteran hockey commentator called new immigrants "you people" on his "Coach's Corner" segment while claiming they do not wear poppies to honor Canadian veterans. DARREN CALABRESE  |  AP
    Cherry has not apologized for his remarks.
  8. The Stockholm City Library turned out to be the perfect place to get engaged. SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
    Stockholm City Library has a beautiful round hall that turned out to be the perfect place to get engaged
  9. Patrick Maroon of Tampa Bay Lightning against Buffalo on Nov. 9 in Stockholm. JONAS LJUNGDAHL  |  Bildbyran via ZUMA Press
    The team got practice, a reset and bonding from the week in Stockholm.
  10. Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning look on during the 2019 NHL Global Series Sweden, at the Ericsson Globe on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. DAVE SANDFORD/NHLI  |  TNS
    Plus, a challenge to the NHL Challenge system, Tyler Johnson’s Sweden highlights and a Jon Cooper question. | Diana C. Nearhos