Making a quick trip across the state to stoke the flames of a growing rivalry, the Florida Panthers suffered a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
With the loss, Florida now sits at 13-11-4 in the standings.
“I didn’t think we moved the puck, managed the puck or moved our feet particularly well tonight,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “We were trying to play a game slower than the game demanded itself to be played. We’ve got to find a way to get fast on a back-to-back.”
For a quick recap of the game, click HERE.
To read up on five key takeaways for the Cats, continue below.
1. DALPE DOES IT AGAIN
What’s in the water down in Charlotte?
Finding the back of the net for the second time in three games since being called up from the AHL, Zac Dalpe got the Panthers on the board at 6:02 of the second period when his shot from a sharp angle clipped off a defender in front before trickling into the net to make it 1-1.
“They’ve been good,” Maurice said of the team’s recent call-ups. “They’ve worked hard.”
The captain of Florida’s AHL affiliate, Dalpe leads the Checkers with 10 goals in 19 games this season. In three games so far with the Panthers during his current call-up, the 33-year-old forward has also chipped in four hits and two blocked while averaging 10:16 of ice time per tilt.
2. MOMENTUM SHIFT
Aleksander Barkov said he felt the nature of the game shift after this goal.
Breaking a 1-1 deadlock just 3:03 into the third period, Brayden Point collected a pass from Nikita Kucherov in the slot before beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a short-side shot to put the Lightning up 2-1 over the Panthers with what would go on to stand as the game-winning goal.
“I think they got that one goal and all of the sudden it changes everything,” Barkov said. “It’s no longer a tie game and we’re kind of behind and maybe we started forcing a little more.”
With the Lightning eventually adding two more goals after Point’s go-ahead tally, the Panthers ended up finishing the third period trailing 15-7 in scoring chances, per NaturalStatTrick.com.
“I think the first two periods, even though they had more shots to the net, I think we kept our game tight,” Barkov said. “Bob was really good and helped us a lot. We had our chances.”
3. VASILEVSKIY’S NIGHT
From start to finish, Andrei Vasilevskiy looked like his usual self.
On a night in which he faced more quality than quantity, Tampa Bay’s netminder turned aside 24 of 25 shots, including going a perfect 9-for-9 on high-danger shots, per NaturalStatTrick.com.
“Everyone knows he’s one of the best goalies in the world,” Barkov said. “There’s a reason he’s won a few Cups. Just keep going. We know we’re going to find a way at some point.”
Taking an even closer look at the numbers, Vasilevskiy’s performance becomes more impressive when you take into account that the looks the Panthers had psoted were good enough for 3.5 expected goals in the game.
“If he sees it, you’re going to have a hard time beating him,” Maurice said. “It’s going to have to be something that comes through chaos.”
4. BOBROVSKY’S START
Matching Vasilevskiy throughout much of the game, Bobrovsky looked sharp in net again.
Facing an onslaught of 19 shots in the first period, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner turned aside 18 of them to keep the Panthers in position to strike heading into the second period.
Of his 34 total saves in the game, 10 came on the penalty kill.
“I thought he was dialed in early,” Maurice said. “He made a couple really good saves. To come out in the first and to be shorthanded in a 4-on-3, I thought he was really good tonight.”
Like Vasilevskiy, Bobrovsky also made nine high-danger stops.
“He’s always been a really good goalie in this league,” Barkov said. “To have a guy like that in the net gives us a lot of confidence. Every game he’s giving us a chance to win. That’s all we need. We need to be a little better in front of him. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
Over his last three appearances, Bobrovsky is 1-1-0 with a .918 save percentage.
5. POWERFUL ON THE PK
Even with a wealth of offensive weapons on both sides of the ice, it was the penalty kill that shined in the special teams battle for both the Panthers and Lightning throughout the game.
By the time the dust had settled, both PKs had finished a perfect 4-for-4.
“I think both team’s penalty kills were really dialed in tonight,” Maurice said. “They blocked shots, got in front and put a lot of pressure on the puck. We didn’t get enough pucks to the net and on the net. We missed the net an awful lot tonight.”
With the extra attacker, Florida had five scoring chances and two high-danger shot attempts.
“I think maybe on two of those power plays we had some good chance sand good shots,” Barkov said. “We had some looks, but they didn’t go in. Maybe the other two didn’t go that well when we didn’t get the puck in their zone. We had our chances there, but of course that’s not good enough. You’ve got to score at least one.”
Since Nov. 21, the Panthers own the eighth-best PK in the NHL at 80.6%.