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PANTHERS ROLL 7s, AGAIN: Stamkos Hits Trifecta as Lightning Roll Panthers 7-2 ... Cats Limp Home for Sunrise Opener

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TAMPA -- The Panthers kept things close for a while Thursday, trailing by a goal in the second period. But as was the case in St. Louis last weekend, things unraveled and got ugly in a hurry.

For the second time in three games, the Panthers watched an opponent ring up seven goals as they were chased home with a 7-2 loss to Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

By the time Steven Stamkos scored his third of the night and baseball caps littered the ice around him, it seemed like it had been hours since Florida trailed by just one. Stamkos' hat trick made it a five-goal lead for a Lightning team that celebrated its home opener with plenty of flair.

The Panthers, on the other hand, limp home for Friday's 20th anniversary home opener, one which may have some longing for those expansion days of yore.

Florida has lost three straight and has been outscored an expansion-like 16-3 since beating Dallas last week.

Despite firing coach Denis Savard four games into the 2008-09 season when he was GM in Chicago, Dale Tallon is not expected to relieve Kevin Dineen of his coaching duties despite this rocky start.

"We've been our worst own enemies in the games that haven't been in dispute,'' Dineen said afterward. "We didn't respond well to pressure when they pressured our players. Instead of responding and knowing it was coming, it created turmoil for us. It was hard to find our sync. .-.-.

"They smelled blood when we didn't respond to their pressure. They kept applying it and we didn't stand up to it.''

Don't look now, but things may actually get worse for the Panthers before they get any better. Florida went 1-3-0 before finally heading home -- only to find a well-rested Pittsburgh team waiting.

Sunday brings the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings and Monday offers another trip, this one to Nashville. When the Panthers return home, the defending conference champion Bruins will be the foe.

Obviously this was not the start the Panthers hoped for, not with what's on deck.

"We have to figure this out quick because it's not going to get easier,'' said Brad Boyes, who cracked Florida's 0-for-17 power play slide by scoring early in the second to make it a 2-1 game. "Seven goals is, I don't know what else to say. It's terrible.''

Tampa Bay opened the scoring eight minutes in when Martin St. Louis poked a puck past goalie Jacob Markstrom. It was 2-0 soon afterward as Stamkos drove through Erik Gudbranson and redirected a feed from St. Louis for Florida's second shorthanded goal allowed this season.

The Panthers finally got their own power play on the board in the second when Boyes tapped a puck past Ben Bishop. A goal down was as close as Florida got with the Lightning getting goals from Stamkos and Ondrej Palat within a four-minute span in the second for a 4-1 lead at the final break.

Florida cut it to two in the third when Jonathan Huberdeau charged in on Bishop and pushed the puck through. But the Bolts weren't done, with Detroit import Valtteri Filppula scoring twice before Stamkos got a new collection of caps with 7:35 remaining.

Markstrom made 18 saves on 24 shots and was pulled after Filppula's second. Scott Clemmensen came in and gave up a goal on four shots.

"This is something we have to go over, it's early but this is something you can't have in this league,'' Scott Gomez said. "We have to stop this now. The positive is we're coming right back [Friday] so we better stop the bleeding now. .-.-. We know how we can play, compete. But this has to stop. We have no time to dwell on it. We're right back into it.''

-- The Panthers and Lightning will play for a so-called 'Governor's Cup' with the winner of the four-game series getting a donation from the losing team for its youth hockey programs.

Although Florida and Tampa Bay played for the 110th time on Thursday, the two have yet to meet in the postseason.

"They are our in-state rival and the only thing that separates us is the Everglades,'' Dineen said on Wednesday. "A nasty playoff series would really push things along.''


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Pittsburgh leads 40-32-4

The game: Florida is playing its first back-to-back set of the season in its 20th home opener. Pittsburgh took two of three against the Panthers last year and have won 12 of the past 15.




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Bla bla bla--Markstrom is not a starting NHL goalie-thx for letting Weiss go!This is my last year with this rinky dink franchise.Ownership not interested in winning-only waiting around for gambling referrandum later this year.Losing Garrison and Weiss by not paying them was the tell.

This has to be the worst, most boring Panther team ever. It's like watching paint dry with the added misery of listening to Bill Lindsay butcher the English language. For someone who professes the virtue of hard work, it amazes me that he doesn't bother to take some basic lessons in grammar over the summer so he can improve his skills as an announcer. Getting back to the "team": year after year it is pure disrespect shown to what's left of the fan base. While every other team actually attempts to improve, this bunch of losers is always on the cheap, constantly signing journeymen has beens that no one else wants with the laughable pretense that "veteran leadership" is just what's needed. Never thought I would say this but please, take your pathetic excuse for a hockey team and your always empty Club Dead, and just go away.

The defense is terrible and the offense not much better. Don't know that you can blame Dineen when you bring in Whitney and send Petrovic to AHL...I turned the game off in the second period and watched "No Country For Old Men." Similar to Panthers, Whitney, Gilbert and Weaver, No Defense For Old Men...

look at who Tallon brought in this year and you tell me what's wrong with this picture? Gilbert, Thomas, Winchester, Crabb, Whitey, Gomez. And the others, Campbell can't defend, Weaver too small, Kulivov too soft(stamkos showed that)Versteg looks like he's figure skating and Matthias is on the 3rd line where Goc should be

As much as this is not Dineen's fault, this team has not the talent to win, but, they should be at least competing hard and they are not. I don't have an answer and no one has in a dozen years. Very discouraging.

hank- the sad part is Gomez has been one of the better Panthers. No offense to him but when he is one of your better players it says something about the team.

litespeedvb1 - Relax dude. Markstrom is still only 23 and has shown some excellence (like in the Flyers game). The Front Office clearly tried to retain Weiss (although I do agree it was disappointing to see him go). And Garrison had no intentions of staying in Florida (poor signing by Canucks if you ask me, highly over-paid). And to the other negative comments, yes we are off to a poor start, but give this team some time. They played great in the pre-season, and they're just getting off a 4-game road-trip. This season (and Panthers) is/are young. We will turn this ship around. I expect to be surprising playoff contenders come trade deadline.

Panther's fan, are you kidding me? And stop living in the past already. Stop being a homer and look at this team objectively. Crabb, Winchester, Thomas all weren't in the league last year. Gilbert and Whitney couldn't even get a contract from 30 other teams. Goc is your 1st line center. Kuvikov is soft, Campbell is the a liability on defense, Weaver to too small, Gomez is old, our best center last year Matthias is on the 3rd line and Shore a natural center who by the way is the best skater was forced to the wing and is now in the minors. BE REAL MAN

Gonna take a lot more than a "trade deadline" to turn this franchise around. Atlanta -> Winnipeg-type stuff.

Last nights game was a joke. One team looked like an NHL team; the other .... Just a joke. Like guy harveys panther painting.


Dale Tallon is more interested in his golf game than his hockey team. When he first got here, he said he wanted the Panthers to be tough. He want teams to pay the price when they played the Panthers. What a joke! The Panthers get bounce around like rag dolls. He has not improved this team, but made it worst. Scott Luce and Tallon couldn't tell talent if it stared them in the face. They both should be fired. I live over in South West Florida, and the radio stations here just laughed all over the place with the beleaguered Panthers. Those should be fighting words. Dineen only comment was that Tampa Bay was a highly skilled team! Please light a fire under some one.

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