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Panthers Thunderstruck Again, Lose Third Straight to Lightning; Cats Outplayed, Outhustled in 5-1 Loss

LightningTAMPA – The Lightning sure look a lot healthier now than it did on Thanksgiving. All it took was a not-so-strong dose of the Florida Panthers. 

Tampa Bay came into the weekend series with Florida with losses in four of five as it was looking at a big deficit in chasing down the Panthers in the Southeast Division.

Two wins over its rivals from Sunrise and the Lightning are right back in the thick of things.

The Lightning now trail Florida by four points after Saturday night's 5-1 dismantling at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The good news for the Panthers is they go into Sunday leading the division for the ninth straight day and their lead remains three points over Washington after the Capitals lost for the second straight night as well.

Florida got only one of four available points in the weekend series against Tampa Bay after losing 2-1 in overtime on Friday. The Panthers have lost their past three to the Lightning after winning four of six last year.

“We have lots of excuses but we just got outplayed,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “The score shows how the game played out. .-.-. These were four point games.''
The last time Florida played here, the power play scored a franchise-tying five goals. On Saturday, the Panthers had plenty of chances with an advantage but had just piddling chances as they struggled to keep the puck in the Lightning zone. 

Marty St. Louis scored the opening goal after Brett Clark's initial shot bounced off of goalie Jacob Markstrom's pad; Brett Connolly quickly passed the loose puck to St. Louis who easily knocked it through. The Panthers then had two power play chances before the first ended but failed to get anything past Mathieu Garon. 

The Panthers had three power play chances in the second as the Lightning opened things up with three goals on seven shots to open the period. Florida got shutout on all of them. The power play, ranked ninth in the league coming in, was 0-for-6 on Saturday and has one goal in the past 19 chances. In Florida's past eight games, it has just three power play goals.

Juice“We have to put it behind us but learn from it as well,'' Stephen Weiss said. “We had no juice, no Toastjam. We got beat to every puck. We didn't generate much.''

Markstrom, making his first start since losing to Chicago in a Nov. 3 shootout, was pelted by the Lightning in the second. Tyler Pyatt got his first of the season making it 2-0 early in the second after picking off a loose puck and sweeping past rookie Erik Gudbranson. Ed Jovanovski went down on the ice to try and play blocker, but Pyatt threw the puck high over Markstrom's shoulder. 

Less than three minutes later, Teddy Purcell made it 3-0 by throwing up a prayer while sliding backward, OJthe awkward shot clipping Steven Stamkos – who scored Friday's overtime winner – and finding its way past Markstrom. Ryan Malone essentially ended it with 9:25 left in the second when he scored his fifth of the year. 

Florida finally scored late when Shawn Matthias knocked in a rebound from Jack Skille, but moments later, Stamkos got another one to pad the large lead with less than a minute left. 

“The power play was a pretty good example of our overall game,'' Dineen said. “We didn't have much jump out there.''

COMPETITION

Dineen put three of his AHL call-ups on the same line Saturday as he wants to see which of those players remain with the Panthers after some of Florida's forwards start making it back to the lineup. Dineen called the trio of Evgenii Dadonov, Tim Kennedy and Michal Repik the 'San Antonio Express' line and added they would “bring a bucketload of energy.''

He was pleased with their effort afterward.

“I thought those guys played pretty well,'' Dineen said. “There was a mistake on the second goal and it ended up in our net. But otherwise, they brought a lot of energy.''

() Tomas Kopecky was back in the lineup after missing Friday's game with back spasms. Keaton Ellerby was the healthy scratch on Saturday. 

() Dineen said he thinks Scott Clemmensen will participate in Monday's practice in Coral Springs and should travel with the team on its three-game trip that goes from North Carolina to Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. Clemmensen has been out with what is thought to be a groin injury since shutting out Dallas 6-0 in his only start of the season on Nov. 15. 



Comments

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See what happens when the first line doesn't produce? LOSING!

LOSING IS WHAT WE ARE ALL USED TO. LOSING IS WHAT THIS ORGANIZATION IS ABOUT, AND THIS WEEKEND THEY DID A GREAT JOB DOING THAT!!!

Here's to the organization for putting this sorry group together. Once teams realize that once you bang bang bang the Panthers bodies all over the ice, they will have nothing left. Great great great job by Matthias, best player on the ice today, 2nd best was Skille. Actually they have been playing well the past two nights.

Who has sucked?

Jovo! that 4+ million contract is a joke. he's slow and done. He will get injured so hopefully Ellerby will be ready to go all the way through.


Have to agree with some of this comments above! We really need secondary scoring there is no way will be able to make playoffs without it and versteeg has been stressing that hinting in his interviews! The chi players now what it takes to win a cup and secondary is a huge part of it and without it ! It will wear on weisser fleshy And steeger ! Are d have to start keeping in mind defense not
Always offense ! This is a crucial hump we need to get over! I really hope are guys can get over it mentally ! We know they have the skill we just need them to maintain mentally they can do it ! George honey question? Do you think mikeal will be back for carolina game and will he help the panthers with secondary scoring ? You have watched him practice

I totally agree!!! We are 23 games into the season and the Panthers are in FIRST place in the Southeast Division with a 3-point lead on Washington. They've also managed to get 7 of 10 available points in their last 5 games with a tired and banged-up lineup. EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

Threw the game away, from the open. Team had planned on a day of rest -- but, they had a game to play -- so, they took the night off, anyway! Horrendous game. Fast Fwded through most of it. Hope they werent getting too comfortable in 2nd place.

Keep Dadonov. Sit kulikov. Trade Jovo. Bring up Thomas and Yonkman and Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit for Gods Sake!

seeing red,

By you saying to sit Kulikov just shows how little you know. He's one of the best Dmen this year and he's been improving all year. Nice try tho. Bring up Yonkman would be the biggest waste of a roster spot there is. Just stop talking.

Minor correction. Believe it was Tom Pyatt, not Tyler Pyatt, who scored for the Lightening. Taylor Pyatt (not Tyler either) plays for Phoenix.

Well I haven't missed a one home game in 5 years and all I can evaluate is what I see on the ice. Most of the time his screw ups are covered up by one great thing he does during a game. His bad things are not rectified by his good play. He looks confused and bewildered most of the time. How about that turnover last night? One of many stupid things he does during games that people don't remember but I sit right there in the lower bowl every game and see it for myself.

Sam, how many games do you attend a year? Or are you a TV fan?

I totally agree about Kulikov.He has mental lapses and makes alot of bad decisions.Jovo is Slowvo and Gudbrannson is to panicky with the puck and needs a year in the AHL.

I think the Panthers are playing very well this year. Very exciting hockey, fun to watch. They were a tired group in Tampa. Can't blame them for that---their schedule is doing them no favors. I like what I see on the ice. Those complaining really need to exhale. Geez, some people complain about everything.

Louie,

thank you. I think most people have forgotten that we're only about 22 games in the season

only 22 games? it's a 1/4 into the season. Soon it will be half way done. We all know what a fast start means to a team fighting for a playoff spot. If they go on and lose 7 of 10 the next ten games, this team will be looking at a 9th - 13th seed very quick.

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