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NHL Game Summary - Florida at Tampa Bay

(Tuesday, February 28th)

Final Score: Florida 8, Tampa Bay 2

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Olli Jokinen and Joe Nieuwendyk each had two goals and an assist as the Florida Panthers shredded the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-2, at St. Pete Times Forum.

Chris Gratton added two goals and Roberto Luongo stopped 32 shots for the Panthers, who start the post-Olympic run with the victory and have won two of their last three games.

Martin Gelinas had a goal and an assist and Juraj Kolnik added four assists for Florida, which has won three of four game against Tampa Bay this season.

Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Craig scored for the Lightning, who had a two- game winning streak before the break snapped.

John Grahame lasted less than half the game for Tampa Bay as he allowed four goals on 13 shots. His replacement, Sean Burke, fared worse allowing four goals on nine shots.

The Panthers struck early in the first period. On the power play, Gelinas drew the disc back to Jay Bouwmeester, who from the left point fed the puck to Jokinen at the top of the right circle. Jokinen sent a slap shot that went over Grahame's glove for his 26th goal of the season just 26 seconds in.

Florida took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission with another power- play goal. Mike Van Ryn let fly with a wrist shot from the left point that Gratton, in front of the net, tipped past Grahame with 6:13 left in the period.

The Panthers netted two quick goals in the second period to take a 4-0 lead and chase Grahame from the net.

Nieuwendyk sent the puck from the top left circle to Gelinas all alone on the inside of the left circle. With his back to the net Gelinas snapped a backhander that went into the top right corner just 3:17 in. Just 28 seconds later Nieuwendyk poked in a rebound off a Lukas Krajicek point shot for his 16th goal of the season.

That was it for Grahame, who was replaced in net by Burke.

"We deserve the win obviously, we played with a lot of desperation early on," said Nieuwendyk. "Maybe they were a little flat or whatever but we just needed to focus on what we needed to do and in reality we need the points more than they do so it was a good effort to keep our focus."

The change in net did nothing to revive Lightning as Florida scored three more times in the period to take a 7-0 lead into the third period.

Jozef Stumpel sent a pass from behind the net to Gratton, who one-timed it in from the inside of the left circle with 7:37 left. Only 34 seconds later Nieuwendyk one-timed a feed from Kolnik past Burke. The final goal of the period came on a one-timer from the right circle by Jokinen with 5:12 left in the second period.

Lecavalier gave the home crowd something to cheer for as he poked in the rebound off a Vinny Prospal shot for a power-play goal 5:57 into the final period to make it a 7-1 game.

Joel Kwiatkowski scored a goal to give Florida its seven-goal advantage back with 4:01 to play and Tampa Bay got the final tally of the contest from Craig with 2:32 to play.

"We have a short time left in our season," said Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella. "At times you have to have amnesia and for a good part of this game we will, but there are some things to learn from it and now we'll just get ready for Montreal."

Game Notes

Before the game Tampa Bay had a ceremony for Darryl Sydor, who appeared in his 1000th NHL game...The Lightning return to action on Saturday when they face the Canadiens...Florida returns home for a game against Montreal on Thursday...Van Ryn and Stumpel both had three assists.

03/01 00:55:52 ET

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