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LIGHTNING STRIKES PANTHERS AGAIN: Tampa Bay Rallies from 5-3 Hole, Tops Panthers 6-5 in OT ... Bolts have won Six Straight v Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

For the second time in a week, the Panthers found themselves trying to defend a two-goal lead in the third period of a divisional game.

Just like Tuesday against the Capitals, Florida couldn't hold it.

Saturday afternoon it was the visiting Lightning who rebounded from the wrong end of a 5-3 score to beat the Panthers 6-5 in overtime.

The Lighting got a much-needed win by scoring with 10.4 seconds remaining to force an overtime that ended just over a minute after it started when Benoit Pouliot put a bouncing puck past Jose Theodore.

Tampa Bay had one win in February before Saturday and was riding a six-game winless streak yet has enjoyed recent success against its rival on the Atlantic side of the state. Saturday's win was Tampa Bay's sixth straight over the Panthers.

In the third, it looked like the Lightning's in-state winning streak was coming to a close. The Panthers led 5-3 with just over 16 minutes left in the game after Tomas Kopecky scored Florida's third goal within a span of 3:30.

"We're not finishing. We're not finishing the game, that's not finishing scoring and giving a complete game whether it's 60 or 65 minutes,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

"We're not a complete team right now. That's a hard loss for us. We have to get ready for the next one.''

Florida, which lost by the identical 6-5 score to the Capitals here last Tuesday, has picked up at least a point in seven of the past eight yet have left the ice without a victory in four straight games.

Yes, the Panthers are gaining points in the standings. But the losing is getting old. Especially in games like this in which a victory was within reach.

Florida is 0-0-3 during this four-game homestand with Toronto ending this run of home dates on Monday. The Panthers are 3-1-4 since snapping a five-game losing streak on Jan. 31.

"When we get that lead we just have to keep coming at teams,'' said Jack Skille, who scored his second goal of the season to tie the score at 2 in the second period.

Tampa Bay limped into the BB&T Center after its high-flying offense had been slowed during the long losing run. Coming into Saturday's game, the Lightning hadn't scored four goals since pounding the Winnipeg Jets 8-3 on Feb. 1 -- one night after Florida beat them in Sunrise.

On Saturday, however, the Lightning got its offense back on track as it pulled to within a goal at 5-4 at 7:28 of the third when Steven Stamkos got his second of the night with the Lightning skating with a man advantage.

Florida played good defense late until Teddy Purcell was standing alone about 25 feet from goalie Jose Theodore and waited for a nice pass from Stamkos in the closing seconds. Purcell ripped a shot that beat Theodore and evened things up for the first time since early in the period.

For Florida, Purcell's goal was extremely painful since Peter Mueller's prime scoring chance was stopped at the one minute mark. Had Mueller scored off a rebound left from a long Jonathan Huberdeau shot, the Panthers would have ended it right then.

Instead, Purcell scored and the Panthers headed to overtime for the fifth time in the past six games. Pouliot pounced on a bouncing puck that flew off the end boards from a Tom Pyatt shot and that was that.

"I've never blamed a game on the bounces,'' Dineen said, "and I don't think I'll start now.''

The Panthers are now 1-4 in overtime with their only win coming in a Philadelphia shootout on Feb. 7. That game also marks Florida's previous victory.

Florida, which trailed 2-1 and 3-2, scored three goals in a quick span from the end of the second to the 3:24 mark of the third.

Jerred Smithson got his first goal of the season with 4.2 seconds left in the second before Jonathan Huberdeau gave Florida the lead at 1:53 of the third. Kopecky scored 90 seconds later to make it 5-3.

"You have to play really good defensively especially at the end when you have a lead,'' Kopecky said. "If things aren't going your way, you have to earn it. You have to work, have to compete. Obviously this is frustrating but take five minutes. There were a lot of good snapshots of things we did well. We can learn from this.''

Comments

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Probably time to start thinking about firing the head coach, unfortunately.

You're crazy. Dineen is doing the best he can. He took a team full of classic underachievers and got the best seasons of their career out of them last year. Name me one player from the top 2 lines/pairings not named Brian Campbell that would start on a top 2 line/pairing on any other team. This franchise needs/needed a top to bottom rebuild. They are in the process of that. Ranked by just about every GM in the NHL as having the best pool of prospects, they are on their way to their 5-7 year plan. Last year was fool's gold. Let's finish at the bottom this year, get MacKinnon, and start playing the youngins next year like Edmonton has done. Getting rid of Dineen isn't the answer. Getting rid of the oldies that are just happy to have a contract is.

Tallon.....FIX THIS!

It's not the coaches fault. You would think they could hold a lead with 10 seconds left. It's on the players. It's on Tallon for the lack of depth they have.

TALLON, YOU ARE A BUM, YOU HAVE NOT IMPROVED THIS TEAM, YOU HAVE GUYS LIKE SHORE AND HUBY IN A BAD SITUATION RIGHT NOW, MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN, OR JUST WATCH THEM TANK THE REST OF THE SEASON.

Thankfully it's a short season.

All of you wanted DeBour gone and all he has done is made the Finals and is the coach of the best team in the East right now. It's on the organization, it's on the system they have in place that hasn't been working.

Worst organization in all of sports.

You would think with 16 million of cap space they would have signed someone in the off season. He better get Getzlaf next season. bHAHAHAHA who am I kidding??? Panthers don't bring anyone worth paying. Brings in guys nobody wants, guys like Flash/Kopecky/Bergy lol GET A FUCCKING GOAL SCORER FOR ONCE. GET A LEGIT 1ST LINE PLAYER. WE HAVEN'T HAD ONE SINCE BURE. THAT WAS OVER A DECADE AGO. WAKE UP!

Calm down folks! Panthers are only 3 points behind 8th place / playoff place. Why all this end of the world talk?
It's not like they are 10 points behind.
It's all about occupying the 8th place in the conference, just like last year and they are still having a good shot at it.
So, please talk off your Marlins glasses (you know, the loser glasses)and look at it realistically.

Florida Bums, are you stupid or what. The Panthers are one season away from winning the SE Div, playing the Devils into game 7 of the PO's. Have the best farm system in the NHL, and give consistent effort night in night out. The injuries have taken their toll. The 1st line hasn't been in tact all season, and there are players hurt on the blue line. FA acquisitions don't always equate to success. Try and watch a game, they're excite, give effort, and will be good. You're a moron.

Florida Bums, I didn't read your 2nd post so you say no one wanted Flash, and Bergy, or Kopecky, are you an idiot. Flash is a quality score, Bergy is a streaky scorer, and Kopecky is a grinder. Huberdeau may one day lead the league in scoring, Shore is going to be a really good player, and Howden has a great scoring touch. Thank God you are running the Panther, you really don't know much.

Doesn't anybody listen to me? A defenseman that offers only turnovers, penalties and handed over last game's OT goal is Kulikov! He is the worst defenseman since Joe Cirella. And at least Cirella would occasionally throw his body in the way of the puck. The man was so bad they took him off the ice and made him defensive coach -- Panthers Management thinking. Maybe they should make Kulikov club president. At least it would keep him off the ice!

Panthers need a goalie that can hold a lead.

Scoring really isn't the problem, defense is. They are dead last in the NHL in GA Ave.

Mike, you are the idiot.

Letting Garrison go basically ruined the face of this team. We had an identity last year, that went out the window when Garrison walked and when they failed to sign a top line winger. Flash would be a 2nd line winger on a good team, bergy and kop would be 4th line players on a good team.

You say you're glad I'm not running the team? well If I was lucky enough, I would have signed Anderson long term and we wouldn't have this problem in goal. I would have traded Bouwmeester in 08 and gotten a decent winger in return.

You're the moron Mike, you obviously don't see the change in the team's intensity this season. They are not a playoff team. They are a bottom 5 team. They are a team that has gotten back to their losing ways blowing games under 2 minutes in the 3rd period. We all know this, so stop putting blinders up and stop taking the organizations side. They have failed every one of us, they don't deserve to be defended.

So Mike, stop being an idiot and wake up from your dream, this team sucks and needs a new direction.

Panthers are only 3 points behind a playoff spot. Why all this noise?

With 3 overtime losses in a row at home, you have to blame coaching. Dineen has made bad line decisions late in the games. Why do you put a 19 year old that is undersized out on the ice when all you need to do is get the puck out of the zone? Put your grinders in, that is what they do best.

We also need to address our goal tending. We have the worst goals against and save percentage in the NHL.

Lastly Kuba is horrible. Kulikov has made mistakes, but he also is young and still improving. Kuba is a veteran than seems to have retired and is happy to collect his check while doing nothing on the ice.

Injuries have kept us from seeing the goal scoring potential of this team, but we lost 2 games at home where we had 5-3 leads in the 3rd. Goal scoring isn't the issue.

Dineen needs to get the right players on the ice for the situation. Why is Weiss (who obviously is hurt and can't even take a face-off) on the ice in key situations late in the game? Either put him on IR and let him heal or keep him off the ice in key situations. He is not himself and isn't helping the team right now.

I don't know how anyone can blame Tallon, he is building for the future and we have the best prospects in the league and his blue print was a long-term plan. We are in year 3 and with the lockout and players being out of shape or injured, you can't even count this year as a true indication of this teams talent.

I am as frustrated as anyone, but we don't need to blow things up, we just need a coach to take control of this team, build their confidence by making good decisions on your lines and utilizing the assets we have. We don't currently have enough talent to win on talent alone, but we do have enough character to make up for it. The players don't get to choose who goes on the ice, the coach does. Dineen, wake up and start coaching this team or I will have to agree you are the problem that will need to go and please take Kuba with you.

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