Panthers 6, Lightning 3
“We forged ahead and came out strong in the third,” McLennan said. “We wanted to have a good showing and we did.”
Vaclav Prospal, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis tallied goals for Tampa Bay. John Grahame had 41 saves for the Lightning, who remain tied with Montreal at 89 points for the final two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re just not doing enough right now,” Tampa Bay’s Brad Richards said. “We’re not trying to win games, we’re just hoping. You can use a lot of fancy words but there’s no other way to put it.”
Tampa Bay lost for the sixth time to Floirda this season.
“The pressure has been getting to us and we’re sitting back and being a little too careful and allowing teams to come to us,” said Tampa Bay associate coach Craig Ramsay, who spoke in lieu of head coach John Tortorella. “We had our chances when they weren’t on their game early. The third period just opened up.”
Kolnik picked up a loose puck in the left circle and his shot went just inside the top corner of the net to put Florida ahead 4-3 with 5 minutes left in the third. Nieuwendyk’s empty net goal with 90 seconds left made the score 5-3. Kolnik added a goal in the last half minute of the game.
“I think we had a really good game,” Florida coach Jacques Martin said. “This is how our team has been looking the second half of the season. The players should feel good about their performance.”
Tampa Bay tied the score 3-all at 9:25 of the third when St. Louis beat McLennan stick side from just in front of the crease.
Florida took a 3-2 lead after Horton’s shot from the right circle went over Grahame’s left shoulder at 6:49 of the third.
Jokinen’s second goal at 5:01 of the third tied the score at 2. Kolnik fired a pass from the boards to Jokinen at the corner of the crease and he beat Grahame on the glove side.
“It was a little sloppy in the first period but starting in the second we were solid,” Jokinen said. “They had a tough game last night (1-0 win vs. Pittsburgh)and didn’t look like they had legs. It was nice to get a win for (McLennan.)
The Lightning took their first lead on their second power-play goal. Prospal’s cross-ice feed was picked up by Boyle to the right of the crease. He beat McLennan glove side to make the score 2-1 with 20 seconds left in the second.
Tampa Bay tied the score 1-all during a power play at 15:24 of the second. McLennan blocked a shot but the puck bounced off his glove and Prospal jumped on the rebound from behind the net and poked in the puck.
The Panthers scored first on Jokinen’s goal midway through the second. Gary Roberts passed from the left of the crease to Jokinen behind the net. Jokinen came out and pushed the puck past Grahame on a wrap-around.
Tampa has lost four straight at Florida and seven of its last eight there. … Florida snapped a three-game losing streak… Panthers defenseman Alexei Semenov played for the first time in 30 games.