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Point Taken: Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Florida Panthers 2 (OT)

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Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Panthers on Friday night. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee )

SUNRISE — It has been over five months since the Florida Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Friday night, Brayden Point kept them from pulling it off.

Not only did Point score the game-tying goal midway through the third period, but he scored on the power play in overtime to lead Tampa Bay to a 3-2 win against the rival Panthers at FLA Live Arena.

Regardless, it was a fun game between teams who got back together for the first time since Tampa Bay swept Florida out of the 2022 Eastern Conference semifinals.

“They are a heck of a team,” Point said. “They are fast, are skilled, it’s always a tough night. And they are always fun games. They are high-flying, but always tight checking. It was a cool game and you always have to be ready. It was nice to win, but there’s still plenty to work on.’’

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Florida held a 2-1 lead going into the third following goals from Matthew Tkachuk and Rudolfs Balcers — two players who had nothing to do with the Panthers and Lightning the past few years.

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Then Point tied things by deflecting a Nikita Kucherov pass and putting it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

“There are a lot of good things we can build off in our game,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

“Both teams found their way to the box tonight. I think we’ve seen that in most of our games — they are calling a lot. I would like to see more discipline while we play with an energy and we are still learning to do that.”

Florida had not lost an overtime game since March 1, 2021 — when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes at the hands of Martin Necas.

Steven Stamkos got the Lightning started 13:04 into the first period. He blasted a slap shot off of a feed from Kucherov on the power play to put Tampa Bay up early.

That lead lasted under three minutes.

Tkachuk then deflected a Brandon Montour shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy with 4:12 to go in the opening frame to tie the game up.

Florida’s new star power forward picked up right where he left off with an assist on a go-ahead goal by Balcers with 4:23 to go in the second period.

Balcers recieved a feed from Tkachuk and buried a backhand shot past Vasilevskiy for his second goal in as many games.

The score stayed that way until midway through the third when Point got the deflection goal.

In overtime, Tkachuk got hit with two penalties — and may find more than that from the league office before Sunday’s game against the Islanders — giving Tampa Bay an overtime power play.

It took the Lightning almost 90 seconds to cash in on the OT power play, but cash in it did when Point got another goal.

“They’re a good team,” Sergei Bobrovsky said. “It’s a team that’s fun to play against … the rivalry.  I thought it was a tight game, really good game. Unfortunately, we didn’t have wo points, but we still got one and we keep building our game”

COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay (game-tying goal, OT winner)

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay (36 saves)

3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay (first goal, primary assist on winner)

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS VS NEW YORK ISLANDERS

  • When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena; Sunrise
  • Tickets: HERE
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-0
  • This season (Florida 1-0): Florida 3, Islanders 1 (Oct. 13)
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 55-32-11, 8 ties

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