Following a statement-making victory over the Stanley Cup
champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off a dramatic late comeback
to cap a solid stretch at home.
Now they’ll try to carry over that momentum on the road Sunday
night when they face the struggling Florida Panthers.
After finishing ahead of only Florida in the Eastern Conference
last season, the resurgent Lightning (7-3-0) are one of the NHL’s
biggest surprises this October.
They improved to 2-0 against defending champion Chicago by
rallying from a third-period deficit for a 6-5 overtime win
Thursday, then came back to beat Buffalo with just over seven
minutes remaining Saturday.
Martin St. Louis and Ondrej Palat scored in the final 5:51 for a
3-2 win over the league-worst Sabres as Tampa Bay completed a 5-2
”Are we a good team? I don’t know,” coach Jon Cooper said.
”I’d say we’re a resilient team. Right now, we’re finding ways to
win the close ones. And regardless of who they’re playing, they’re
not getting rattled. It’s just not happening to this team.”
St. Louis, who scored the game-winner against the Blackhawks,
has six goals and 13 points over his past nine games. He also has
seven goals and 10 assists in his last 10 versus the Panthers
Teammate Steven Stamkos finished with a hat trick in Tampa Bay’s
7-2 rout of visiting Florida on Oct. 10. He leads the Lightning
with seven goals and 15 points, and has 13 and 19 in his last 11
games against the Panthers.
Following a two-game stretch in which he allowed nine goals on
60 shots, Ben Bishop got back on track Saturday by stopping 20 of
22 for his seventh victory. Bishop, however, could give way to
backup Anders Lindback as the Lightning face back-to-back sets for
the first time.
Lindback, 0-2-0 with a 3.80 goals-against average in three
appearances, is 4-1-0 with a 2.60 GAA in five career starts against
Whoever gets the nod might not have much of a challenge against
a Florida team that has totaled nine goals while dropping five of
six. The offensively-challenged Panthers rank near the bottom of
the league with 2.0 goals and 27.8 shots per game.
Despite a season-best 45 shots Friday, Florida managed only a
first-period goal from Jesse Winchester in a 3-1 loss to the
”At the end of the day, we’re all about the two points,” coach
Kevin Dineen said. “On that one, it’s not a good night.”
Brad Boyes leads the Panthers with four goals – including one in
the first meeting with the Lightning – but he hasn’t scored in his
last six contests.
With Tim Thomas working his way back from a leg injury, Jacob
Markstrom is likely to get another start after turning aside 18 of
20 shots versus Buffalo.
Markstrom is hoping for better results after giving up six goals
on 24 shots before getting pulled in favor of Scott Clemmensen in
Tampa Bay earlier this month.
Markstrom is 2-3-0 with a 3.89 GAA in five career starts versus
the Lightning, who have dominated this series with an 8-1-1 record
in the last 10 meetings.