The Florida Panthers looked much more like themselves in the second of their three preseason clashes with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Even with NHL regulars like Matthew Tkachuk and Gus Forsling getting the day off after playing in Orlando on Tuesday, the rest of the Panthers handled the Lightning quite easily, leaving Tampa with a 6-3 win.
Florida controlled the pace of play for the majority of the game, outshooting the Lightning by 31.
Matt Tomkins did all he could, stopping 44 shots, but the Panthers’ attack was too much.
Anthony Stolarz made a few quality saves but struggled at times with limited work in front of him, stopping 17 of 20.
Here are a few observations from Thursday night’s game:
- Evan Rodrigues has been one of the best players on the ice since Florida’s NHL regulars returned to preseason action. His speed and his ability to create space with his agility has been on full display. He also made a really nice play to set up Kevin Stenlund on a give-and-go for the Panthers’ first goal of the game.
- Florida’s power play has been able to get pucks to the net much quicker as Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to get more comfortable. He got an assist just off the opening draw of a power play after Eetu Luostarinen deflected his shot in.
- The Panthers looked a lot less rusty after a fun day off in Orlando. They controlled the pace of play for the majority of the game and outshot Tampa Bay 51-20.
- Casey Fitzgerald was very noticeable on the back end, showcasing his physicality with two hits and a fight with the Lightning’s Austin Watson. It was the second time those two tussled through two games of the three-game set.
- Ryan Lomberg and Nick Cousins still have the chemistry they had down the stretch of the regular season. They forechecked hard and connected on a couple of goals. One of them was a rocket of a one-timer Cousins hammered off a quick feed from Lomberg.
- Stenlund was hounding the front of the net for a large majority of the game. He finished with seven shots and the opening goal. Stenlund moves quickly for his 6-foot-5 and was drove the net hard the whole game.
- While Steven Lorentz may have the fourth-line center role locked up, Stenlund could stick around and be the 13th forward.
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS (4-3)
PRESEASON VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (4-2)
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
- Previous Exhibition Games: Florida 5, Nashville 0 (Sept. 25); Florida 5, Nashville 2 (Sept. 25); Carolina 4, Florida 1 (Sept. 27); Florida 4, Carolina 2 (Sept. 29); Ottawa 4, Florida 2 (Oct. 1); Tampa Bay 2, Florida 0 (Oct. 3); Florida 6, Tampa Bay 3 (Oct. 5).