Florida Panthers center Nick Cousins (21) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) battle for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Lightning Falter In 7-1 Loss To Panthers

In recent years, the Tampa Bay Lightning have typically had the upper hand over their in-state rival Florida Panthers. However, that was not the case on Monday night, as the Panthers dismantled the Lightning in a 7-1 beatdown.

In their first time on the ice since the All-Star break, Tampa Bay looked out of rhythm all night. The Lightning got just 33 shots off, which paled in comparison to Florida’s 49. All-Star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had a rough night; his .857% save percentage marked his fourth-worst performance this season.

Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe led the way for the Panthers. Tkachuk finished with two goals and three assists, while Verhaeghe contributed two goals and two assists himself. Tkachuk and Verhaeghe earned the first and second star of the night, respectively. The third star went to Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who racked up 32 saves and compiled a .970 save percentage on the evening.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) is congratulated by teammates after the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1 in an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

It also proved to be a night of milestones for the Panthers. Tkachuk’s five points on the night tied his career high in a single game. Additionally, Florida coach Paul Maurice picked up his 800th career win, making him the sixth coach in NHL history to achieve that feat.

Lightning Haunted By Second Period Collapse

The Lightning managed to keep things quiet for the most part early on. Despite 17 shots on goal from Florida in the first period, Vasilevskiy held his own. His only let-up came on a snap shot from Verhaeghe eight minutes into the period. While the defense mostly held up, the offense could not get anything going. The score sat at 1-0 at the end of the first.

Florida struck again almost immediately in the second period, with Sam Bennett extending their lead to 2-0. Tampa Bay responded with a powerful slap shot goal from Nikita Kucherov less than two minutes later.

https://twitter.com/TBLightning/status/1622765181691432960?s=20&t=AXp9ko7u-gxLRsnTRr140Q

However, the Lightning’s offense stalled out from there. They could not get anything going offensively for the rest of the night, thanks in part due to some lockdown goaltending from Bobrovsky.

While Tampa Bay could not find their groove, Florida stayed red-hot. Tkachuk scored off an impressive rebound shot from Verhaeghe immediately after Tampa Bay killed off a penalty. Later in the period, Eetu Luostarinen secured his 11th goal of the season off a tip-in to extend Florida’s lead to 4-1.

With nearly every ounce of momentum now on Florida’s side, and the game was all but over, Eric Staal picked up an unassisted goal for Florida to kick off the third period.

Verhaeghe and Tkachuk both scored their respective second goals of the night, while Tkachuk racked up his third assist.

The Lightning could not muster any response on either end, and the Panthers ran away with the win.

What’s Next For Both Squads

Despite the loss, Tampa Bay still leads Florida 2-1 in the season series. Their final regular season meeting will take place on Feb. 28 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Interestingly enough, both teams will take on the San Jose Sharks in their next game out. The Lightning will host the Sharks tonight at 7, while the Panthers will face the Sharks Thursday.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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