Lightning Vs. Panthers: 4-7; Bolts Lose Home Opener

Vincent Lecavalier and The Tampa Bay Lightning were bitterly disappointed in season home opener.

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Lightning Vs Panthers: Final Score 4-7; Penalties: Things Fall Apart

The Tampa Bay Lighting shot itself in the foot, giving the Florida Panthers 9 power plays, 5 of which they were able to convert.  The Bolts lose their opener and now hold a 1-3-2 record.

The start of the third period didn't bode well. With 14 second left off the power play from the second period, Kris Versteeg was able to force his second goal of the game and bring the score to 3-5 Panthers.  Florida turned it around but Rolson began to show signs of life with a nice glove save. A couple pucks taken in the chest, but he looked ready to hold the Panthers off.

The team was getting frantic. A high stick to the face of Marcel Goc sent Steve Downie to the penalty box.  His frustration evident, Downie threw the puck down in frustration.  When considered with his earlier misconduct penalty, Downie's just being pissy. Thankfully, the Bolts were able to stop the 6th Panther power play. Stamkos followed the penalty kill with a goal off a  20ft wrist shot. The score stood a mere 4-5 Panthers and the Lightning had 9 minutes to score (at least) the equalizer.   

After several minutes of hard Lightning offensive pressure, a defensive lapse allowed Panther's Stephen Weiss to put the puck in the net from directly in front of the increasingly pulverized Roloson.  Weiss's puck soon had company.  Two overlapping penalties, a tripping on Paul Kubina and a delay of game on Eric Brewer, gave Jason Garrison the chance to score on a 3-5 situation. The score falls to 4-7.  After Garrison's goal, the Lightning floundered along, their forward Mattias Ritola picking up a nice boarding penalty to give the Panther's their 9th power play, but with the score out of reach, the clock dwindled down.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning losing their home opener, along with their overall disappointing start, the Bolts need to continue what head coach Guy Bucher calls their experimental phase.  "We've got new guys, where they fit and who they play with, who to put on the power play and penalty kill, who's in the lineup and who's not. It's a juggling act that slowly we're going to funnel down to make it a little bit more solid and consistent but we're still experimenting and that's where we were last year." In fact, Bucher doesn't seem all that worried about the Lightning's slow start.  "I think it's important to realize that at the beginning of last year we were 7-7."  Despite Boucher's optimism, this disheartening loss makes the Bolt's road back to the playoffs that much harder. 

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Penalties Still A Problem, Bolts Trail 4-3 After Second

The Bolts have had so many chances. The eye-test would say the Lightning are dominant this evening, but the score says otherwise. The Lightning have only bested Florida by two shots on goal, but you wouldn't know that watching from home. Regardless, the Bolts trail 4-3 after the second.

Tampa Bay has certainly dominated the game in Penalty Infraction Minutes (25, vs. Florida's 11). A mere 2:35 into the second, Kris Versteeg scored on a powerplay to make the Bolts pay. The penalty was a tripping call against Martin St. Louis, a rare sight against such a clean player. St. Louis was clearly upset with the call and continued his frustrations from the box, talking to himself and brewing. The Lightning clearly responded angrily on his behalf and have sent a barrage on the Florida goal, to little avail.

Amid the Lightning flurry of attacks on goal, former Lightning player Sean Bergenheim got a breakaway on a Lightning pass back to center. He took it down to Roloson and went top-shelf to score on his former team, pushing the score to 4-2. Lecavalier, not one to let things get out of hand, answered soon after and tucked the puck behind the top right shoulder of the left-handed Florida goalie, a brilliant placement in the weakest corner of their net. Some might call it "textbook."

With less than two minutes left in the period, Dominic Moore was called for slashing as he stopped a scoring opportunity for the Panthers. The Florida powerplay will continue into the third, and be forewarned. Florida is 3-for-4 on previous powerplays and pose a threat.

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Lightning Vs. Panthers: Equalized at 2-2, Penalties Reign

The new and improved St. Pete Times Forum's first home game against the Florida Panthers is turning out to be a doozy. Both teams started the opening minutes applying excellent offensive pressure. The Bolt's defense looked shaky at first, then seemed to get the job done and solidify before the parade to the penalty box began. Going into the first period, the Tampa Bay Lighting had a 10% on the power play and a 92% on the penalty kill. Unfortunately, the Bolts would only improve on one of those statistics. Starting the evening off was a 56ft wrist shot by Panther's Alternate Captain Tomas Kopecky scored after a tripping penalty against Lightning forward Adam Hall.

Two minutes later, a good ol' fashion brawl between Lightning's Ryan Malone and Panther's Erik Gudbranson sent both to the penalty box for 5 minutes. Thirty seconds later, Panther's Tomas Fleischmann received 2 minutes for hooking Steve Downie. Steve Downie was then sent to the locker room to serve a 10 minute misconduct penalty. Thankfully, NHL rules dictate that a player receiving a misconduct penalty may be replaced by his team while he is in the locker room. Thus, the Lightning's Ted Purcell was able to score on a 4-on-3 with 4 seconds to go in the power play, killing the Panther's 9 penalty-kill streak. Everybody's out of the box.

5 minutes later and after a hectic minute and a half, Tampa's 20 year old potential star-in-training Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the season, giving the Bolts a 2-1 lead. However, two back to back penalties would even the score again. The Lightning survived one delay of game on Matt Gilroy, but the subsequent hooking on Kubina was too much pressure. Panther forward Stephen Weiss scored the equalizer, his team's second power point of the game, and the score is 2-2 after one period.

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Panthers Vs. Lightning: Tampa Tied With Florida, 2-2, After First Period

At the end of the first period at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Lightning and Florida Panthers are tied 2-2. The first period of the Lightning’s home opener was marred by penalties, resulting in three of four goals coming via the power play.

Teddy Purcell opened the scoring for Tampa at the 9:22 mark. Victor Hedman would score less than five minutes later on a great pass from Adam Hall to give Tampa the 2-1 lead

Tampa’s penalty kill unit struggled in the first period, giving up two goals in just the first 16 minutes of play. Tomas Kopecky notched the first goal of the game, after Hall was sent to the box for cross checking.

Stephen Weiss, who lead the Panthers with 21 goals last year, evened the game when he scored on the short side from an angle off a pass from Dmitry Kulikov, a goal that really shouldn’t get by Dwayne Roloson. Roli has given up two goals on just seven shots so far.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Host Panthers in Home Opener

Vincent Lecavalier and The Tampa Bay Lightning look to end their four game skid tonight, in its home opener against the Florida Panthers.

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