NHL Game Summary - Florida at Tampa Bay
(Thursday, January 14th)
Final Score: Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Rostislav Olesz scored the go-ahead goal with 7:39 left in the third period, as the Florida Panthers held on for a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Southeast Division matchup at St. Pete Times Forum.
Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman also scored for the Panthers, who regrouped after dropping a 5-4 shootout decision versus Washington on Wednesday and have now split their last six games overall.
Tomas Vokoun turned in a stellar performance, stopping 28-of-30 shots, including Martin St. Louis' penalty shot with 4:55 left in regulation.
"It was huge, especially losing a game we should have won yesterday," Vokoun said about the win.
Jeff Halpern and Steve Downie scored for Tampa Bay, which had a brief two-game winning streak halted. These two teams will face each other in the back end of the home-and-home set on Saturday in Sunrise. Antero Niittymaki made 26 saves in defeat.
"I don't think it was intensity," Tampa Bay defenseman Kurtis Foster said about the loss. "Their team kind of sat back and waited for us to make mistakes and sure enough they got a couple."
With Tampa Bay ahead, 2-1, in the third, the Panthers got the equalizer at 8:53. Steven Reinprecht started a line rush down the right side, then slid a soft pass from the circle to Stillman, who finished it off to tie the game.
Florida then took a 3-2 lead at 12:21. Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman's turnover at center ice was picked up Olesz, who skated in and beat Niittymaki with a wrister just inside the post.
Then, with Tampa Bay skating shorthanded, St. Louis broke in the clear and was hauled down by Bryan McCabe with just under five minutes to play, forcing a penalty shot. However, Vokoun's glove save kept the Panthers in front.
The Lightning pulled Niittymaki with a minute and a half remaining but were unable to get the equalizer.
Florida opened the scoring 5:58 into the first period, when Horton put home a Stephen Weiss pass from in close; however, the Lightning struck for two goals in a three-minute time span.
First, it was Halpern tucking in a Vincent Lecavalier missed shot past an out- of-position Vokoun at 9:40, then Ryan Malone threw a backhand pass from the right corner to Downie in front of the net for an easy tap-in, putting Tampa Bay up, 2-1, at 12:40.
Both netminders came to the forefront in the second period, as Niittymaki stopped all 10 shots faced, while Vokoun made seven saves; it remained 2-1 heading into the intermission.
Despite the loss, the Lightning have still won four of the last six in the series...St. Louis had an 11-game point streak snapped.
01/14 23:04:02 ET