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Panthers rally to edge Lightning

TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- One second can make all the

difference. Just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning.

All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester completed a three-goal

outburst in the second period with one second remaining in the

session and the Florida Panthers hung on to post a 4-3 comeback

win over the Lightning on Saturday.

Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik also scored in the second as

the Panthers erased a 3-1 deficit and grabbed a one-goal

advantage. Tomas Vokoun turned aside all 13 shots he faced in

the third to preserve the victory.

"In the first (period), we were pretty bad. Everyone knew it,"

Bouwmeester said. "Games like this are huge for us. It's a

team that's below you in the standings, and we had a couple of

tough losses to them earlier."

Gregory Campbell tallied in the opening session and Nathan

Horton collected three assists for Florida, which improved to

5-0-2 in its last seven games.

"This one definitely isn't a keeper," Panthers coach Peter

DeBoer said. "We'll probably burn the tape of it rather than

watch it, but we got two points."

All-Star Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal each recorded a

goal and an assist and Ryan Malone netted his 100th career tally

for the Lightning, who had won three of four.

"We started the game great," Prospal said. "We didn't give them

anything in the first period. We built a 3-1 lead and let it

slip in the second, and that can't happen to us, especially

against a cross-state rival. That was a four-point game.

"We should be good enough to protect that lead. We had such a

great first period. We made one bad mistake that ended up in

the back of our net, and we just gave them the second (goal).

They scored a huge goal in the last second of the second period

and we didn't manage anything in the third."

After falling behind by two goals late in the first period, a

session in which they were outshot by an 11-4 margin, the

Panthers played a spirited middle session to move ahead.

Horton beat a defender to a loose puck in the offensive zone and

dished it to Stillman, who beat goaltender Mike Smith from the

slot at 6:39 for a power-play goal. Less than 4 1/2 minutes

later, Zednik buried his own rebound from the doorstep to knot

the contest at 3-3.

With time winding down in the period, Stillman - a member of

Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup championship team in 2004 - completed a

pass from the right corner to Bouwmeester, who beat Smith to the

glove side from the left hash marks to put Florida ahead. It

was a man-advantage goal for Bouwmeester, who has scored in four

straight games.

"You just play to the buzzer," Bouwmeester said. "You know

there wasn't a whole lot of time left, but you're not counting

down the seconds."

"You never want a goal at the end of a period, so that was a

tough one to swallow," Tampa Bay defenseman Steve Eminger said.

Vokoun made the last-second tally stand as he stymied the

Lightning over the final 20 minutes. The Czech stopped all 22

shots he faced over two periods after replacing Craig Anderson,

who allowed three goals on 11 shots in the opening session.

"I don't think it was really Andy's fault," Bouwmeester said.

"I think that sometimes you just (make a goalie change) to maybe

shake things up. We didn't help him out much. I think we had

four shots in the first period, and that's not going to win you

any games."

"It's not unusual to go to the bench, but it happened to us a

few times in the last little while, so we are a little bit more

used to it than probably most goalies," Vokoun said. "We just

go in and, in a sense, you don't have so much pressure. You're

already down, so just come out and play and try to do the best

you can in those situations."

Despite limiting Florida to just four shots in the third while

registering 13 of its own, Tampa Bay still could not recover

from Bouwmeester's goal.

"It seemed like we couldn't get a real clean chance in the

third," Lightning interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "Obviously,

in the last minute of the period, you don't want to let a goal

in. It was a huge goal for them."

Lecavalier opened the scoring at 4:37 of the first, deflecting

defenseman Matt Smaby's shot from the left point past Anderson

for his 19th goal. The captain helped Tampa Bay double the

lead, recording the secondary assist on a power-play tally by

Prospal, who lifted his own rebound past Anderson from near the

right goalpost with 6:24 remaining in the session.

Campbell halved Florida's deficit with 2:05 to go, wristing the

puck inside the left post from the slot. But Malone grabbed the

rebound of Martin St. Louis' slap shot from the top of the right

faceoff circle and slid it into a vacant net just 51 seconds

later for his milestone goal and a 3-1 advantage.

"We didn't play well in the first period," DeBoer said. "Tampa

came out and was ready to play again. I thought we didn't do

anything that we wanted to do as far as our game plan went. We

overhandled the puck, we didn't forecheck well, we didn't

generate shots, we took penalties. The list is as long as your

arm, the things we didn't do the right way.

"To our guys' credit, we fixed that in the second."

Smith made 17 saves for the Lightning, who fell to 2-2-1 in the

season series with the Panthers.



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