TAMPA — After dropping the past three games, one would think the last thing the Florida Panthers wanted was to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Well, that may be true. The Lightning can certainly smell blood in the water.
But the Panthers weren’t exactly as wounded as that three-game slide may have suggested to some as the two teams went shot for shot Saturday night as we have become accustomed to them doing over the past year.
The game was not decided again until overtime — with Tampa Bay coming out on top thanks to a breakaway goal from Brayden Point.
The Panthers drop to 0-2-2 on this four-game roadtrip.
They are home against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
The Panthers found themselves down 2-0 midway through the second — and that is not a good place to be when Andrei Vasilevskiy is in the net for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay got its first goal of the night on a power play chance with MacKenzie Weegar in the box for interference.
Tampa Bay, which had been 2-for-22 with the advantage on home ice this season, saw Ross Colton send a nice cross-ice feed to Pat Maroon standing all alone at 12:17 of the first.
The two teams only combined for 12 shots on goal in the second period as they seemed to be waiting the other out.
Florida, which had been dictating the flow of the game despite trailing, went down 2-0 not long after Patric Hornqvist and Point went at it. Point, seemingly tired of Hornqvist’s business, tripped him up and tossed the gloves.
Hornqvist ended up skating away after getting in a bunch of shots and the two seemed to laugh about the fracas while in the box.
Still, the Lightning seemed charged up and got a goal from Victor Hedman as he slid through the left circle and beat Bobrovsky at 9:02 of the second.
Florida came back just over three minutes later, Sasha Barkov extending his scoring streak to nine games with the primary assist on a goal Jonathan Huberdeau did all the work on.
Barkov got hit hard along the boards as he fed Huberdeau, who worked his way into the slot and fired a shot that appeared to hit Ryan McDonagh’s stick on its way past Vasilevskiy.
Just 36 seconds later, Aaron Ekblad wound up and took a big shot — this puck clipping Eetu Luostarinen on its way past the Tampa netminder.
The score knotted at 2 all but assured an exciting third period between two teams who were on their best behavior the last time they met.
That was not the case Saturday.
Although the two teams had a couple of altercations, it was mostly a clean affair highlighted by some terrific goaltending from two past Vezina Trophy winners in Bobrovsky and Vasilevskiy.
Bobrovsky ended his night with 21 saves; Vasilevskiy 26.
Florida is now 1-0-1 against the Lightning this season with the next meeting coming just before the New Year on Dec. 30.
That will be the 20th time these two will have met in 2021.
Doesn’t seem like it has been enough, eh?
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay
2.Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
3. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
NEW YORK ISLANDERS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560
- Last season: Did not play