NHL Game Summary - Florida at Tampa Bay
(Tuesday, March 27th)
Final Score: Florida 5, Tampa Bay 2
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Nathan Horton had two goals and an assist to pace Florida over Tampa Bay, 5-2, at St. Pete Times Forum.
Olli Jokinen posted a goal and two helpers for the Panthers, who halted a two- game losing streak. Bryan Allen had a goal and an assist, Stephen Weiss scored and Ed Belfour stopped 27 shots to earn the win in his 27th consecutive start.
"We've got seven games left and we are going to chip away and try to win all seven and sneak into the playoffs," Weiss said. "We're not giving up and if that means playing the spoiler role and knocking someone out of the playoffs then that's what it's going to be."
The win gives 12th-seeded Florida 78 points, eight behind Montreal, which holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Brad Richards and Filip Kuba tallied for the Lightning, losers in five of their last seven. Marc Denis made just 14 stops in the loss.
After a scoreless opening period, Tampa took a 1-0 lead at 4:54 of the second when Jason Ward shook a defender on the left side and fed Richards for an easy tap-in as Belfour needlessly flopped in the crease.
Weiss pulled Florida into a 1-1 tie midway through with a power-play tally, then Horton added one under three minutes later for a 2-1 Panthers lead. Jokinen made it 3-1 on a delayed penalty call at 19:01, when he managed to shovel a rolling puck under Denis on a partial breakaway.
Kuba got the Bolts within a goal at 3-2 midway through the third with a one- timer from the left point while Tampa was short one man, but a potential tying goal on a shot by Martin St. Louis hit the post with five minutes remaining.
The Panthers put the finishing touches on the victory when Allen and Horton hit the empty net in the final minute.
"The third period we're one big play away from tying it, and we certainly had our opportunities," said Lightning head coach John Tortorella. "Some guys certainly are squeezing the sticks a little tight, but I'm not upset with the hockey team in how we played, and I think that's what we have to keep reminding our guys."
Florida has won four of the seven meetings this year...Belfour's 27 straight starts is an ongoing team record, previously set by Roberto Luongo at 23 games last season...Tampa Bay went scoreless in its three power-play chances, while Florida finished 1-of-4...The Panthers host Atlanta on Wednesday, and the Lightning travel to Carolina on Friday.
03/27 23:01:02 ET