Sunrise, FL – Steven Stamkos scored the game-winning goal 5 1/2 minutes into the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Florida Panthers, 3-2, on Tuesday.
Martin St. Louis totaled a goal and two assists, with Vinny Lecavalier chipping in a score and a helper for the Lightning, who had lost seven of their last eight games entering the contest.
"All that we have been talking about is getting a win, so we found to get a win," Stamkos said. "Some games you deserve to win and you don't, and some times you don't deserve to win and your goalie keeps you in it and get's you win and tonight we got a win."
Anders Lindback stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced in the triumph.
Kris Versteeg, who left in the third period following an apparent right leg injury, scored 13 seconds into the second for the Panthers, who have dropped four straight and seven of their last eight overall. Tomas Kopecky added his 11th goal of the season in defeat.
Jacob Markstrom allowed three goals on just 13 shots in the setback.
"We're not really looking at who we're playing, we focus on ourselves and that is the bottom line. The focus in on our group here," Kopecky said.
Lecavalier and St. Louis both tallied in the first period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
St. Louis centered the disc to Lecavalier, who beat Markstrom with a wrister just 1:36 into the contest.
Later in the period, Lecavalier found Alex Killorn with a cross-ice feed that pulled Markstrom out of the net. Killorn pushed the puck over to St. Louis, who slammed it into the back of an empty net with 2:12 remaining.
A loose puck off the initial faceoff of the second period pulled Lindback behind the net. The disc popped out to the right side, where Versteeg controlled it and tried to send in a backhander into the net, but Lindback recovered and blocked the attempt. Versteeg, though, sent the rebound over Lindback's left pad for the goal.
Kopecky's wrister 11:24 into the second knotted the game at 2-2.
Stamkos then gave the Lightning the decisive edge in the third after banging one off Markstrom's right pad 5:30 into the frame.
The Panthers had an opportunity to tie the game with 3:40 left after Shawn Matthias got out on a fast break, but Lindback made a spectacular save to preserve the lead.
Lecavalier and St. Louis both have seven goals this season ... The Panthers were 0-for-4 on the power play ... Versteeg left in the third period after a collision with Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. He remained on the ice for several minutes before he was helped to the locker room.