The Florida Panthers hosted their cross-state rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night and defeated them 3-1 at BB&T Center. It was the first of three straight home games for the Cats and the middle of a six-game stretch consisting of five home games.
Florida(6-6-1) moved out to a fast lead at 3:10 of the first period on the power play. Aleksander Barkov won the face-off in the right circle and drew the puck back to Keith Yandle at the right point. He moved to the top of the zone and fed Jonathan Marchessault on the right wing for him to sail a shot by Ben Bishop.
It was the seventh goal this season by Marchessault this season. I matched his total last season while he played with the Lightning.
Tampa Bay(7-5-1) waited until the third period to mount a comeback and tie the game at 1:15. Ondrej Palat drove the puck to behind the Panthers cage and Alex Petrovic recovered it. He began to skate with the puck until it went off Roberto Luongo's right leg and into the net.
The Panthers regained the lead 2-1 with 4:28 left in the third period. Reilly Smith stripped Victor Hedman of the puck at the top of the Bolts zone. He angled to the left-wing dot and fired a snap shot over the right shoulder of Bishop for the game-winner. Derek MacKenzie added an open-net goal with 35.5 seconds remaining for his first tally of the year.