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Stamkos goal gives Lightning win over Panthers

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos does not have a reputation as a great shootout goal-scorer.

On Sunday, though, it was his shootout goal that gave the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.

Despite blowing a two-goal, third-period lead, Tampa has won three games in a row. Stamkos was the obvious hero with one goal and one assist in the first period and then the game-winner in the shootout.

"They just have to get me in there," Stamkos joked in reference to the shootout. "No, obviously, it is something I've struggled with in the past. Practice does help, just trying to get certain moves coming in.

"It was nice to see one go in and even nicer that it helped our team win."

Stamkos was not one of Tampa's first three in the shootout. But after Valtteri Filppula scored to give Tampa a 1-0 lead, Victor Hedman and Sami Salo were stopped by Florida's Jacob Markstrom, who made 25 saves through overtime.

Meanwhile, Tampa goalie Anders Lindback stopped Jonoathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov before a sweet move by Brad Boyes tied the shootout at 1-1 and forced an extra frame. That's when Stamkos converted, and Lindback stopped Dmitry Kulikov for the victory.

Tampa coach Jon Cooper was asked about Stamkos being "notoriously not very good" in shootouts.

"I just decided that he's notoriously not good if he's in the first three," Cooper joked. "After that, I think he knows what to do.

"Sometimes (not being among the first three shooters) can take a little pressure off the guy. Guys react in different ways, but he made quite a move."

Lindback, Tampa's 6-foot-6 backup goalie, got his first win of the season after allowing a combined total of eight goals in his two previous starts.

"It's a little pressure off (me)," said Lindback, who made 29 saves on Sunday. "But I feel pressure every game. I want to win. I never want to lose a game."

The Lightning have also won five straight games in Sunrise and pounded the Panthers 7-2 in their only previous meeting this season, which was in Tampa. That was the Panthers' second-worst loss so far this season in terms of margin.

Overall, Florida has lost its past three games and six of seven.

Florida's power play went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-16 in its past seven games.

Tampa's Martin St. Louis started the scoring with his seventh goal of the season, which came on a tip-in after just 41 seconds had elapsed. Stamkos got an assist, his ninth, as did Ryan Malone (his fourth).

Stamkos made it 2-0 with 4:35 elapsed, scoring his eighth goal of the season, on a slapshot. Stamkos has three goals and four assists in his past three games.

The assists on Stamkos' goal went to Malone and Matt Carle.

The Panthers made it 2-1 with 6:12 left in the first period on Shawn Matthias' backhander, his first goal of the season. The assists went to Jesse Winchester and Marcel Goc.

"It's tough going down 2-0 early like that, but we played really hard," Matthias said. "We just have to put 60 minutes together, and we'll be a really good team if we do that."

Tampa increased its lead to 3-1 with 10:02 left in the second period on a power-play, wrist-shot goal by Radko Gudas. It was his first goal of the season, and the assists went to Richard Panik and Alex Killorn.

But the Panthers battled back with third-period goals by Nick Bjugstad, his first of the season, and Brad Boyes, his fifth.

Bugstad's tip-in goal, which came with 14:21 left, was assisted by Scottie Upshall and Dmitry Kulikov. Boyes' backhanded goal, which came with 11:09 left, was unassisted.

St. Louis and Stamkos really came out flying," Bjugstad said. "They always do. We made a good comeback. The guys battled back, but it was a tough way to end."

NOTES: LW Tomas Fleischmann, normally in Florida's rotation, was out sick on Sunday. ... Cooper is looking for more shots on goal. His team entered the weekend third in the league with 3.4 goals per game but 28th in shots (25.8). ... C Tom Pyatt (shoulder) was out for Tampa. ... The 45 shots the Panthers had in a loss to Buffalo on Friday were their most since Nov. 5, 2010. ... Florida is still without G Tim Thomas (groin), D Ed Jovanovski (hip) and C Steven Pinizzotto (hip). ... Tampa's scratches Sunday were D Keith Aulie and D Mark Barberio, who had both received playing time Saturday against Buffalo. ... Florida's scratches were D Ryan Whitney and RW Krys Barch. ... Next up for the Panthers is Friday's game against the St. Louis Blues. That will wrap up Florida's six-game homestand. The Panthers then travel to Washington to play the Capitals on Saturday. ... Next up for Tampa is a road game Tuesday at New Jersey.
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