NHL Game Summary - Florida at Tampa Bay
(Friday, April 6th)
Final Score: Florida 7, Tampa Bay 2
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Jay Bouwmeester had a goal and one assist, Ville Peltonen added three helpers and Florida used a four-goal first period to crush Tampa Bay, 7-2, ending any hopes the Lightning had of winning a Southeast Division title.
Ollie Jokinen scored his 38th goal of the season and also had an assist to continue his domination against the Lightning, as Florida snapped a two-game slide. Jokinen has played all eight games against Tampa Bay this season, totaling four goals and eight assists. The Panthers' leading scorer, Jokinen needs two points in the team's last regular-season game to set a new career high.
Janis Sprukts and Kamil Kreps each scored their first career NHL goals for the Panthers, who got tallies from seven different players. Ed Belfour finished with 20 saves.
Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky scored for the Lightning, who had their three- game winning streak snapped. Despite being idle on Thursday, Tampa Bay clinched a playoff berth with the New York Rangers' 3-1 win over Montreal. The Lightning entered Friday night battling for the division, but are now three points behind Atlanta, with the teams set to do battle in the season- finale for both sides on Saturday. The Thrashers topped the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, on Friday night.
Johan Holmqvist surrendered four goals on just 12 shots for Tampa Bay before giving way to Marc Denis, who finished out the contest with 17 saves.
"I care to remember the team as how they've played over the past three-and-a-half, four months," said Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella. "That's what we do. And that's the team that will be playing in the playoffs."
"I know what this team is, and I know what this team is going to be when the playoffs start," Tortorella added.
Nathan Horton started the first-period spurt when he worked the give-and-go with Bouwmeester, surged toward the crease and tapped the disc past a diving Holmqvist on the left side at 2:56.
Florida made it 2-0 when Mike Van Ryn sent a shot from just above the left circle that Noah Welch wristed in on the wide-open far side at 14:08. David Booth made it 3-0 when he beat Holmqvist with an easy wrist shot from the high slot that found room on the netminder's stick side at 16:14.
The Panthers capped the four-goal rally on another fluke tally, as Holmqvist lost the puck on a shot from the left circle by Peltonen, and Bouwmeester tapped the disc in as it sat just off the goal line. Holmqvist's night ended there, and Denis settled in between the pipes.
Florida continued its dominance in the middle stanza. Van Ryn's shot deflected off the knee of Sprukts, as the center notched his first career NHL goal to make it 5-0, while Jokinen scored a on a wrister at 11:52 to continue the rout and put the Panthers on top 6-0.
Kreps made it 7-0 when his long slapshot got through traffic in front and found the back of the net just 1:43 into the third.
The Lightning finally got on the board when Ward beat Belfour with a wrist shot at 11:19, and Tarnasky picked up his fifth of the year when he tipped home the puck during a scramble in front to make it 7-2 with 7:56 remaining in regulation.
"We've put so much time and effort and energy trying to get there (to the playoffs), and we got in," said Tampa Bay forward Tim Taylor. "I just set this game aside. Good job for the Florida Panthers, once again, they're heroes. They get to start golfing on Tuesday but they won a game against Tampa in Tampa."
It was Peltonen's second-career three-point game...The Lightning have been outscored 18-6 in three straight losses to Florida...Martin St. Louis had a six-game point streak against Florida come to an end...The Panthers wrap up their season Saturday night against Carolina.
04/07 00:01:35 ET