Though their defense continued experiencing lapses, the offense was able to bail them out by scoring six goals for the first time since Feb. 1. Steven Stamkos was a force all game long, netting two goals. He had numerous opportunities to get his third, thus completing his first hat trick this season, but was pulled down by Alex Kovalev which resulted in an easy save for goaltender Jose Theodore. Offseason acquisition Benoit Pouliot came up huge as well, with two goals including the game-winner just over a minute into overtime. Other pucks that found the back of the net came from recent Syracuse Crunch call-up Alex Killorn (his first in the NHL) and Teddy Purcell, whose goal with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation forced extra time.
The power play also began to work, with Stamkos scoring his second of the afternoon off a 4-on-3 advantage. They did give Florida numerous shorthanded opportunities though, so there’s something to work on.
The Panthers, meanwhile, got goals from rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, along with Jerred Smithson, Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias and Jack Skille. What worries me is that Smithson’s goal came with less than five seconds remaining in the second period, as our defense lazily (and probably blindly) tried to chip the puck into the offensive zone. Really, guys, just make the simple pass and get it out of there!
Going forward, the Lightning hope to build on this big win when they return home to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs Feb. 19. Let’s just hope our offense doesn’t go cold again between now and then!