The Florida Panthers look to return to their winning ways tonight when they head to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning for the second portion of a home-and-home series.


Tampa drew first blood in the series Friday Night after Steven Stamkos fired home a one-timer from Martin St. Louis on the powerplay for the victory. The goal come on the powerplay after Dmitry Kulikov got called for interference as he tried to break up a potential 2 on 1, on which Vincent Lecavalier missed the net with his shot.


After Florida done a great job killing off the first half of penalty, including an attempted short hand break away by Jason Garrison, things turned as Tampa entered the zone, and set up a play, perfectly giving Stamkos an easy, clear shot which beat Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore.


The Panthers stuck first in the contest, as Tomas Fleischmann scored his 10th of the season on a pass set up by Stephen Weiss to put Florida up 1-0 midway through the second period. Florida then coasted through the game and appeared as though they would build on their lead, but ended up hitting several posts, and the game remained tied.


In the third, the Bolts finally drew even, as Brian Campbell misplayed the puck while the Panthers were changing, the puck bounced off his stick, and right to Vincent Lecavalier, who fired the puck into the chest of Jose Theodore, and then picked up his own rebound which he sent home for the 1-1 tally.


Jose Theodore had 29 saves in the loss as the Panthers finished off their 4-game homestand with a record of 3-0-1, as they continue to sit second place in the Eastern Conference, and 1st in the SouthEast division. Florida leads the season series 2-1. The Panthers swept the home-and-home earlier this season, with a 3-2 shootout victory in Florida followed by a 7-4 victory in Tampa.




Tampa Bay Lightning: (10-9-2; 22PTS, 11th Eastern Conference, 3rd SouthEast Division) (6-3-0 Home)


Florida Panthers: (12-6-4; 28PTS 2nd Eastern Conference, 1st SouthEast Division) (7-4-0 Road)


Powerplay: TBL (16.6% tied 17th NHL) – FLA (19.1% 9th NHL)

Penalty Kill: TBL (81.8% 17th NHL) – FLA (82.3% 15th NHL)

GF/GA: TBL (56GF, tied 19th NHL / 66GA, 19th NHL) – FLA (62GF, tied 9th NHL / 51GA, tied 7th NHL)


Key Injuries:

Tampa Bay Lightning: Scott Jackson (Left Knee Surgery), Matthias Ohlund (Arthroscopic Right Knee Surgery), Steve Downie (Upper Body)


Florida Panthers: Scott Clemmesen (Groin), Mikael Samuelsson (Groin), Scottie Upshall (Upper Body), Matt Bradley (Upper Body), Tomas Kopecky (Back Spasms), Marcel Goc (Head)



Adam Reid

[email protected]