Panthers lose to Tampa 2-1 in a shootout

It seems as if the Florida Panthers are getting use to tight games, as Friday night, the team stretched their streak of consecutive games decided by 1 goal to seven straight.

Cory Stillman got things started early, as he took a pass from Shawn Matthias, off a scramble in front and sent a backhand shot past Dan Ellis for his sixth goal of the season.

The Lightning would then strike with 5:55 remaining in the first, as Steve Downie snapped a shot which beat Tomas Vokoun off a pass from Steven Stamkos for his 4th of the season to tie things up at 1.

Both goaltenders would shut the door from there on out to send the game to overtime. In overtime it was much of the same as neither goaltender wanted to be the one to give the go ahead goal, as the game was headed to a shootout. Arguably, the best chance of the game came to the Lightning in the Overtime period, as Vincent Lecavalier was awarded a penalty shot after he was tripped from behind by Panthers defencemen Bryan Allen.

On the penalty shot attempt, Lecavalier approached with great patience, tried to pull a few deaks, but Vokoun would not bite, as Lecavalier went to the left, and ran out of room as Vokoun kept the pad down to shut the door.

In the shooutout, the Panthers elected to shoot first, as Mike Santorelli started things off. He went in on Ellis, attempted to pull a move in close, but had the puck roll off his stick, which was easily covered by Dan Ellis. All shooters after that would also get stopped by Ellis and Tomas Vokoun respectively, until the last shooter, Dominic Moore who scored the game-deciding goal Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers in his first career shootout try, attempted to be the hero again. Once again he would prevail as he, unlike Lecavalier got Vokoun to bite, and then sent it pass him for the winner against his former team.

The goal withstood a video review to decide if Moore hit the puck twice while deaking Tomas Vokoun. It seemed as if Vokoun had initially stopped the puck with his skate before Moore pushed it in.

“I thought it could go either way, to be honest. To me it felt like all one follow through,” Moore said. He continued, “The skate was right there. Maybe it’s one of those things if the call on the ice was different, the review would have been different. I think it was the right call, but I’m biased.”

The Panthers, with the shootout loss wrapped up a 6-game homestand with a record of 3-0-3. The homstand started out great as it begun with 3 straight wins, before losing to Columbus in overtime, after giving up a late goal, also giving up two goals in the final two minutes to Atlanta for a shootout loss.

Still, Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said he was happy with getting nine out of a possible 12 points. “I would have taken that for sure,” he said. “We have to keep building on that. But it was a good homestand and keeps us in the mix.”

The win for the Lightning marks the first time in three meetings with Florida, and improved to 6-14 at BankAtlantic Center since the start of the 2005-06 season.

The seventh consecutive game decided ties a franchise record set back in 2001-02.

With an assist on the Downie goal, Stamkos ties Sidney Crosby for the point lead with 66 points.

Tampa Bay will return home Sunday to open a whopping 12-game homestand against the Atlanta Thrashers. Florida will fly to Jersey, where they will take on the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

Adam Reid