Mike Hoffman leads Panthers past Lightning with hat trick in home opener

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Mike Hoffman had his second career hat trick to help Florida beat Tampa Bay 4-3 on Saturday night to split an opening home-and-home series.

Noel Acciari also scored goal and Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for his first victory with the Panthers. Joel Quenneville also won for first time as coach of the Panthers. On Thursday night in Tampa in the opener, the Lightning beat the Panthers 5-2.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle each had assists on both of Hoffman’s first two goals.

Steven Stamkos, Mathieu Joseph and Gemel Smith scored goals for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots.

Hoffman third goal came when he redirected a shot from Aaron Ekblad into the net 17 seconds into the third period to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead. Hoffman’s last hat trick was on Nov, 29, 2016 against Buffalo.

The Lightning made a surge in the third period.

Stamkos closed the Lightning to 4-2 on a one-timer from the left circle that beat Bobrovsky at 6:40 of the third. Joseph made the score 4-3 on his goal with 4:19 left in the third.

The Panthers scored three goals in the second period, including two power-play goals by Hoffman.

He gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead on his first goal at 9:39. Hoffman’s wrist shot from the right circle beat Vasilevskiy in the left corner. Hoffman’s second goal came 1:26 later when his shot from almost the same spot in the right circle got in at 11:05 to make the score 2-0.

The Panthers stretched their lead to 3-0 on Acciari’s goal, his first with the Panthers. Acciari corralled the puck in front of the crease and backhanded it in at 12:32.

Trailing 3-0, the Lightning closed to 3-1 on the goal by Smith, who nudged in a puck sliding loose in the crease at 16:23 of the second.

Notes: Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar returned after leaving Thursday’s game midway through the third period with an upper-body injury. … The game was the first of a six-game road trip for the Lightning.

UP NEXT:

Lightning: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Panthers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.