St. Louis leads Tampa over Florida
Tampa, FL – Martin St. Louis recorded his fifth career hat 3.
Vincent Lecavalier added a goal and three assists for the Lightning, who ended with a 4-1-1 record against Florida this season. Tampa Bay finished the season series with nine points against Florida, which is the most points it has ever accumulated in one year against its inner-state rival.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay, which is 6-0-1 over its last seven games. Mathieu Garon made 17 saves.
"It's nice to get on the scoreboard and help your team win," St. Louis said.
Sean Bergenheim ended with a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Fleischmann also lit the lamp.
Scott Clemmensen stopped 27-of-32 shots. Brian Foster made his NHL debut at the end of the second period, stopping the only shot he faced.
Tampa Bay drew first blood in this Southeast Division battle at the 1:37 mark of the first period. Nate Thompson blocked Mike Weaver's shot from the right point and raced down the ice with the puck before firing a wrister through Clemmensen's pads.
Fleischmann's shot from the right circle beat Garon at the 3:54 mark, making it a 1-1 game.
The Lightning took the lead back early in the middle stanza. Florida turned the puck over in its own zone and Lecavalier's snap shot from the slot beat Clemmensen at the 1:42 mark.
St. Louis made it a 3-1 game at the 4:22 mark. Following a scramble for a loose puck in front of the net, St. Louis slid a shot past Clemmensen.
The Panthers lit the lamp less than three minutes later to make it a one-goal game again. Samuelsson stole the puck in the Tampa Bay zone and Bergenheim was there to gather the disc at the slot. Bergenheim's shot left a rebound at the side of the net for Samuelsson.
But another Florida turnover led to Stamkos finding the back of the net at the 12:36 mark.
St. Louis added another Tampa Bay goal at 15:08, but Bergenheim cut the gap to 5-3 on a breakaway in the final minute of the frame.
"We had a tough second period to say the least," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said. "We got off to a tough start and I think we were our own worst enemy so that was certainly the difference. Of course they put on the second period. They've got good players and when you give up turnovers that's going to be the difference in the hockey game."
St. Louis' empty-net goal with 21 seconds remaining made it 6-3.
The Panthers have used four goalies in a single season for just third time in franchise history (1997-98, 1999-2000)...The Lightning improved to 3-0-1 on a five-game homestand...The Panthers fell to 18-2-4 when scoring at least three goals.