Justin Sourdif kept his chances of making the opening roster for the Florida Panthers alive on Thursday night by scoring the go-ahead goal in the penultimate preseason game of the 2023-24 NHL campaign against the host Lightning.
Sourdif, in his second pro season, crashed the net and knocked in a loose puck midway through the third to help Florida to a 6-3 win at Amalie Arena.
The goal gave the Panthers their first lead of the night — only to see Ryan Lomberg score 90 seconds later for a two-goal lead.
Sourdif got the assist.
Florida also got a pair of goals from Kevin Stenlund as well as goals from Eetu Luostarinen and Nick Cousins with Anthony Stolarz getting the win.
Florida ended up outshooting the Lightning 51-20 — shots were 14-0 midway through the third — as Stolarz did not have much to do for long stretches of the game.
Tampa Bay goalie Matt Tompkins played well and made a number of key saves as the former Ohio State goalie who spent the past two years playing in Sweden battles for playing time in net what with Andrei Vasilevskiy out to start the season.
The Lightning and Panthers wrap up the preseason on Saturday night in Sunrise with final roster cuts to follow.
Florida played a number who are battling for a spot including Sourdif, Zac Dalpe and rookie Mackie Samoskevich not to mention defenseman Uvis Balinskis.
The game Thursday was a stark contrast to the penaltyfest exhibition played on rough ice in Orlando although there were enough infractions called to keep the officials happy.
The Panthers got their second goal to tie the score at 2 on a shot from Oliver Ekman-Larsson which was tipped by Luostarinen.
Florida ended up trailing 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 before finding a way to tie the score each time.
— Center Sam Bennett played just three shifts in the second period and did not appear in the third.
GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME
1. Justin Sourdif, Florida
2. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay
3. Kevin Stenlund, Florida
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)