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Stamkos shootout goal, Ramo saves lift Tampa Bay past Florida 4-3

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't in the playoff picture, but they enjoyed slowing down their in-state rival's post-season push.

Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo stopped all three shots in a shootout, and Steven Stamkos scored the only goal in the tiebreaker to lead the Lightning to a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Stamkos beat Tomas Vokoun with a deke to the backhand for the win for Tampa Bay, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

"This says a lot about the character of this team going forward," Tampa Bay centre Jeff Halpern said. "We never gave up and kept coming at them and coming at them. It's a big win for us and a tough one for them because they need the points."

Ramo stopped Cory Stillman, David Booth and Michael Frolik, securing the victory when he stopped Frolik's shot with his blocker.

Tampa Bay also got goals from Halpern, Martin St. Louis and Cory Murphy, a former Panther.

Booth had two goals and an assist for the Panthers. Frolik also scored for Florida, while Stephen Weiss had two assists.

It was an important game for Panthers, who have struggled of late. Florida lost 3-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, two days after losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Florida, which hasn't been in the playoffs since 2000, moved into a tie with the New York Rangers for eighth place in the tight Eastern Conference.

"We got a point and we've got to keep moving forward here," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "I don't want to sound redundant but we got a point with the injuries we have and the lineup we've got. The guys worked their tails off tonight."

Ramo made 34 saves in regulation and overtime for the Lightning, who were coming off Thursday's 4-1 win over Toronto.

Vokoun stopped 24 shots in regulation and overtime for Florida, which opened a five-game homestand Saturday. Eight of Florida's remaining 13 games will be played in Sunrise.

Booth made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 2:49 remaining in the second period. Cory Stillman's backhand from a sharp angle bounced off the goal post, then Booth's backhand went between Ramo's legs. But Murphy quickly followed Booth's goal with one of his own. Murphy scored on a power play with 1:39 left in second period with a slap shot from the point.

Booth scored his second goal of the night at 5:35 in the third period to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead. Weiss' pass to the front of the net went off a skate and into the slot, where Booth put home another backhand.

St. Louis made it 3-2 when he deflected Lukas Krajicek's shot from the point past Vokoun with 6:18 left in the third period.

Then Halpern tied it at 3 with 3:30 left in regulation. After a Florida giveaway behind the net, Richard Petiot spun around and passed the puck across the crease to Halpern, who one-timed it.

"They were coming at us really hard," Ramo said. "They really needed this win but we hung around and battled hard and it paid off."

Frolik put the Panthers up 1-0 with 4:11 left in the first period. He took a pass from Booth and beat Ramo with a wrist shot from the high slot.

"I thought we dominated the first period, I just thought they got a couple bounced and the puck went in," Booth said. "But I thought we played pretty good. But, yeah, I do think we've got to play better, especially with the teams we've got coming up here."

Notes: Florida sent D Noah Welch to Tampa Bay before the NHL trade deadline on March 4, acquiring D Steve Eminger in the deal. Saturday's game was the first time Eminger and Welch skated against their former teams. ... Panthers D Bryan McCabe missed his third straight game because of a fractured orbital bone. ... Panthers LW Rostislav Olesz played for the first time since Dec. 4. He had surgery for a sports hernia earlier this year. ... Tampa Bay LW Matt Pettinger played in his 400th game.


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