LIGHTNING 4, PANTHERS 1
TAMPA – The Panthers expect to see Jacob Markstrom defending their net sometime down the road, but those days won't be for some time.
Markstrom, 20, played his first full game of the preseason Saturday, surrendering three goals in the second period as the host Lightning rolled to a 4-1 victory at St. Pete Times Forum.
Barring a trade of veterans Tomas Vokoun or Scott Clemmensen, Markstrom will be sent to the Panthers AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., in the coming days.
“He's the future of the franchise,'' coach Pete DeBoer said.
The Panthers (3-2-1) end the preseason with three straight losses. Florida opens the regular season Sunday, Oct. 10, in Edmonton.
“They cranked it up and we didn't go with them when they raised the level,'' DeBoer said of the Lightning's three second period goals. “The last 40 minutes were something you would like to forget.''
Markstrom was sharp early on, stopping a couple of big shots from Tampa Bay's arsenal of forwards. But like as he did last week in Montreal, Markstrom struggled when the Panthers defense let the Lightning hang around too long in the Florida zone.
Florida led 1-0 on a nice goal from center Mike Santorelli, but the Lightning jumped all over Markstrom and got three goals within a five minute span in the second period to completely take over the game.
Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier was first to score, then Steven Stamkos – who scored 51 goals last year to tie for the NHL lead – fired a puck from the left circle that caught the skate of Florida's Erik Gudbranson and past Markstrom. Stamkos got his second of the night a few minutes later as he picked up the puck off Lecavalier's stick and fired a shot that beat Markstrom shortside.
Tampa Bay got its final goal at 7:44 of the third off a shot from Sean Bergenheim.
“It has been a real fun experience and I had been looking forward to it for a long time,'' said Markstrom, who gave up four goals in the third period of last week's 6-2 loss in Montreal. “You always want to do better, want to do better in the games and in practice. Now I know how it is. I played in 1 ½ games and am really glad to be here. I want to be here as soon as possible – or just stay here.''
CLEAN IT UP
DeBoer was a little dismayed after Florida committed 10 penalties in Friday's overtime loss to the Lightning – and wasn't thrilled with the six infractions called on Saturday.
The Panthers penalty kill came into the game perfect in 32 chances, and stopped Tampa Bay's first power play on Saturday. But the streak came to an end in the second period when Stamkos picked up his first goal of the night.
On Friday, the Panthers had a host of penalties – including two bench minors for having too many skaters on the ice.
“Those are attention to detail issues,'' DeBoer said. “We weren't engaged mentally like we should be.''
With Keaton Ellerby missing two games with his shoulder injury, 18-year-old Erik Gudbranson became the only player to participate in all six of Florida's preseason games.
General manager Dale Tallon said Friday that the Panthers were working on getting Gudbranson signed to his entry level deal. If Florida signs him, Gudbranson could start the season on the NHL roster.
-- Ellerby had a strong training camp after putting on 20-plus pounds of muscle during the offseason, but because he can go to the minors without having to pass through waivers, it appears he'll be joining Markstrom in Rochester.
DeBoer, who didn't give Ellerby much playing time when he was called up at the end of last season, has praised Ellerby throughout the camp. On Saturday, DeBoer all but confirmed Ellerby would be sent back and said he needs to continue to develop.
“This kid is an NHL player and he made a huge stride for me this year compared to the two previous camps,'' said DeBoer. “He came prepared to earn a job and did what he had to do in the gym for the first time. He'll be a full time NHL guy real soon.''
-- The Panthers may make some cuts on Sunday as the roster needs to be pared to a maximum of 23 players by Wednesday. Players who are waived in order to go to the minors would have to clear by Wednesday when the team submits its opening night roster to the league. Florida currently has 29 players on the roster with four players nursing minor injuries.