Panthers outrace Bolts for easy victory

by Gary Shelton on February 12, 2021

in general

Point scored both Lightning goals./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 4 a.m.

Oh, so that's what losing feels like.

The Tampa Bay Lighting, still basking the glow of their Stanley Cup, in the middle of a great start, took one to the nose Thursday night. The Florida Panthers, who had won just two of their previous nine games against Tampa Bay, outskated the Bolts to an easy 5-2 victory.

The Bolts were barely in it, playing chase most of the night. The Panthers scored the first two and led 4-1 at one point.

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“I’m sure they had this one circled for awhile," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "They got a lot of new guys out there. They skate. They have some skill. The goalie looks  like he’s playing well for them. They played a good game.

“They were a determined group tonight. We’ll definitely have to play better to change the outcome in two nights."

Tampa Bay had entered the game with a 9-1-1 record and seemed to be playing well. However, they couldn't match the speed of the Panthers.

“There were spurts in the game we were okay for the most part," Cooper said. "We played slow tonight. I don’t know for whatever reason. They probably had something to do with that. But we’ve got better in us. We’ve got to pick up the pace a little bit. We didn’t shoot near enough pucks either. We have to be a little more determined around their net."

Brayden Point scored both goals for Tampa Bay, which played without injured Steven Stamkos. The Bolts also lost Anthony Cirelli late.

 "They came out ready to play," Point said. "They outscored us. They were winning races. We were slow to pucks, and they took advantage."

The Bolts now must face the Panthers twice more in short order. They are at Florida on Saturday night, then are home against the Panthers on Monday. Saturday night's game has a 7 p.m. puck drop.

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