Tampa Bay Sports Day

NHL: Lighting Bests Panthers in Shootout, 4-3

Tampa Bay rallied from a late deficit to defeat Florida 4-3 in a shootout and improve to 3-0 to start the 2016-17 campaign.  Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point were the only Lightning shootout takers to make their attempt.

“I just tried to make the best of it. I just tried to relax. For sure, there were nerves. It was the first time I have ever done that in this league, so I was a little bit nervous but I just tried to make the best of it,” Point said.

Vincent Trocheck was the lone Florida taker to make his shootout shot. Trocheck’s attempt was initially ruled no goal on the ice but was overturned upon review.

“I look back, we’ve played nine periods of hockey, and I’ve been pretty happy. If you want to sit here and say the first eight periods of hockey, we’ve played pretty well. We’ve competed really hard, but in the third tonight, Florida was a better team. I felt we deserved to have the lead after two, I did. I’m not so sure I felt we deserved to have the lead after three,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper.

Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning their first lead, cleaning up a rebound on the edge of the crease for his first goal of the season.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored with 5.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game 3-3 and send it to overtime. Stamkos scored his second goal of the season and 314th of his career.

“It’s obviously a shot that’s not going to go in a lot. It’s something that you (play) around with before and after practice where you shoot at those sharp angles. Eventually, you’re going to catch one and obviously it was nice to see that go in,” Stamkos said.

Victor Hedman and Valtteri Filppula had the assists on Stamkos’ game-tying goal. Filppula now has a point in all three games to start the season.

Alex Killorn has scored a goal in every game so far this season. The Lightning left winger tied the game 1-1 at 6:18 of the second period after one-timing a behind-the-net feed from Nikita Kucherov past Florida goaltender James Reimer (25 saves) in his first start. Kucherov had the lone assist on Killorn’s third goal of the year.

“Yeah, I thought we battled hard. I thought it was a good game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t close it out. But I thought we played hard and capitalized when we needed to. So, valuable point and go from there,” Reimer said.

Tampa Bay’s  Ben Bishop got his second-straight win after making 28 saves on 31 shots.

The Lightning cap their four-game home stand to open the season on Thursday at AMALIE Arena at 7:30 p.m.

“Well we were talking about that in the room as well. There’s not many guys in the league that can do that, and when I say not many, you’re talking one hand. Even then I don’t know if you’re even getting to the thumb. Special players with special abilities like that can do that and no bigger time than when we needed it because we clearly were leaking oil in that third period,” noted Cooper.

GAME NOTES: Kucherov has tallied an assist in two-straight games…. Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin had the assists on Palat’s goal. Both Stamkos (2 goal, 2 assists) and Drouin (1 goal, 3 assists) are on a three-game point streak to start the season….The Bolts gave up the opening goal for the third-straight game…the Lightning honored all-time great Vincent Lecavalier with a video tribute and ceremonial puck drop before Tuesday night’s game against the Panthers. Lecavalier continues to hold Tampa Bay all-time franchise records for games played (1,037), goals (383) and power-play goals (112).