NHL Game Night 2/17: Lightning at Panthers

The Good News = Lightning move into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division
The Bad News = Tampa Bay fails to get both points, and possible injuries to Ranger and Fedotenko.

Tampa Bay-4 (Overtime)

With Atlanta's loss in Ottawa this afternoon, the Lightning needed just one point to move into a first place tie with the Thrashers. The held on for the point, but fell in overtime in South Florida 5-4 to the Panthers. Tampa now leads the division by tiebreaker with 69 points and hold the No.3 seed. Atlanta also has 69 and the Hurricanes, who won tonight in Montreal, are 2 back at 67. The Lightning has a game in hand on both division rivals.

The Panthers won their first game in extra time this year and move to 57 points, 2 ahead of Washington for 13th place in the conference. They are 9 points out of a playoff spot.

Back to the game … Johan Holmqvist struggled at times in net for Tampa, stopping 25 of 30 shots. The Lightning only put up 20 shots on Ed Belfour, including just 3 in the final period. Part of the reason for the low shot total was the absolutely horrific ice conditions that both teams battled. No less than three goals were the direct or indirect result of the puck jumping over or off of a stick. With 6 minutes left in the third period, the teams had combined for 5 shots and what seemed like 2 dozen giveaways. It was awful to watch, but both teams had to deal with it.

The “Lightnings,” as they were referred to by Panthers analyst Denis Potvin at one point, got goals from Martin St. Louis (2), Dan Boyle, and Eric Perrin. Assists were compiled by Vaclav Prospal (2), Vincent Lecavalier (2), Boyle, Perrin, and Brad Richards.

Ruslan Fedotenko suffered a thigh or knee injury when he was hit by Bryan Allen’s raised knee late in the third. No penalty was called on the play. Paul Ranger also left the game with an injury, but the Panthers broadcast never addressed it. They were too busy fawning over Allen’s hit on Fedotenko.

Blair Jones was a scratch for the Lightning and Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune speculates he could be sent back to Springfield on Monday.

1st Period
Florida 1:47, Ruslan Salei 6 (power play) (unassisted)
Florida 4:02, Stephen Weiss 12 (Nathan Horton, Martin Gelinas)
Tampa Bay 6:09, Martin St. Louis 34 (Vaclav Prospal, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 11:03, Eric Perrin 10 (Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 16:28, Martin St. Louis 35 (Dan Boyle, Vincent Lecavalier)

2nd Period
Florida 6:48, Bryan Allen 2 (Stephen Weiss, Martin Gelinas)
Tampa Bay 11:11, Dan Boyle 13 (power play) (Eric Perrin, Vaclav Prospal)

3rd Period
Florida 11:28, Ville Peltonen 10 (power play) (Olli Jokinen, Steve Montador)

OT Period
Florida 0:29, Nathan Horton 19 (Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss)

Gamesheet from NHL.com