TAMPA, Fla. – It wasn’t pretty, but Florida coach Peter DeBoer will take the Panthers’ latest victory.
Jay Bouwmeester scored for a fourth straight game and completed Florida’s three-goal second period as the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.
“This one definitely wasn’t a keeper,” DeBoer said. “We’ll probably burn the tape of it rather than watch it, but we got two points.”
Bouwmeester gave Florida a 4-3 lead with a power-play goal from the left circle just as the second period ended.
“You just play to the buzzer,” Bouwmeester said. “You knew there was not a whole lot of time left, but you’re not counting the seconds.”
Gregory Campbell, Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik also scored for the Panthers, who have won five of seven. Florida, looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000, moved into eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s been an uphill climb,” DeBoer said. “It wasn’t that long ago we were sitting in 29th, 30th (overall), but there’s still a long ways to go.”
This was the first time since March 8, 2008, a 3-2 victory over Atlanta, that the Panthers won a game after trailing by two goals.
“In the first, we were pretty bad. Everybody knew it,” Bouwmeester said. “Games like this are huge for us.”
Tampa Bay got goals from Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal and Ryan Malone.
After Stillman’s power-play goal at 6:39 of the second, Zednik tied it at 3 with 9:04 left in the period.
Lecavalier put the Lightning up 1-0 at 4:37 of the first. The Tampa Bay captain has seven goals and 14 points in 11 games.
Prospal extended the Lightning’s lead to 2-0 on a power-play goal with 6:24 left in the first.
After Campbell cut the Florida deficit to 2-1 at 17:55, Malone made it a two-goal game again with his 100th NHL goal 51 seconds later.
“I think we started the game great,” Prospal said. “We built a lead and let it slip in the second. That can’t happen to us. That was a four-point game. We gave them all the momentum.”
Florida goalie Craig Anderson was taken out after allowing three goals on 11 shots in the first period and was replaced by Tomas Vokoun, who stopped all 22 shots he faced.
Panthers defenceman Ville Peltonen, playing with a broken right foot, left late in the second. He hurt a knee after a knee-to-knee collision with Tampa Bay’s Evgeny Artyukhin, who was given a tripping penalty on the play.
Peltonen will be examined by the team’s medical staff on Sunday.
“It’s a dirty hit,” DeBoer said. “We’ll let the league decide what they’re going to do with it.”
Lightning rookie centre Steven Stamkos didn’t play for the second time in five games as part of an ongoing strength building program. In addition to conditioning work, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft is taking part in extra video sessions with the coaching staff.
Notes: Bouwmeester also has a six-game point streak (4 goals, 7 points). … Olaf Kolzig was the Lightning backup goalie after missing 12 games with an arm injury. … Panthers C Nathan Horton had three assists.