Lindback had 37 saves on 39 shots, while Stamkos helped kill off almost an entire Panthers power play and scored the game-winner from practically no angle. This marked the Lightning’s second win in tight one-goal games. It has been a roller coaster season which began so promising yet managed to quickly go south, with bad bounces, defensive blunders and hot opposing goaltenders all playing a role.
Tonight was a rare night of celebration for Tampa Bay fans though. The game didn’t win any awards, clinch a playoff spot or even win a championship, but Lindback showed flashes of brilliance and Stamkos got to 199 career goals in his already illustrious Lightning career.
The team started off hot before taking numerous penalties, giving Florida’s halfway decent power play a shot. That led to the Panthers controlling play and taking more shots, resulting in a 30-6 shot advantage and tie score after two periods. Granted, much of that time was played with 10 forwards, as Tom Pyatt wasn’t seen after the first period.
Being that shorthanded, the Lightning had to “win with emotion” as coach Guy Boucher said in his post game comments. They did and Lindback shut the door following Stamkos’ goal, robbing Shawn Matthias on a breakaway.
There was a scary moment however, as the newly called up Radko Gudas laid a clean, open-ice hit on Kris Versteeg. Versteeg immediately went down gripping his knee before being helped off the ice. He’ll be further evaluated tomorrow.
Lightning fans can enjoy this victory for now, though I’m sure they’re wondering why these results couldn’t come more often. Of course, Lindback doesn’t usually allow only two goals on 39 shots or play the Panthers every game.
Meanwhile, the Lightning will be looking to build on tonight’s hard-fought win when they host the New York Islanders Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. It may sound like a slam dunk, but nothing’s come easy for Tampa Bay this season.