Tampa Bay Lightning (38-19-6) at Florida Panthers (27-22-13)
|Date & Time||Sunday March 1, 2015, 5:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Florida Panthers / Tampa Bay Lightning --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
It wasn’t easy but the Florida Panthers came away with a huge two points on Sunday afternoon at home against the Buffalo Sabres. For a game that the Panthers absolutely dominated, the score wasn’t reflecting it early in the third period. Buffalo’s goal at 12:54 of the final period tied the game for the Sabres at 3-3 despite being thoroughly out played by their hosts. Luckily the Panthers responded quickly, getting a goal from Scottie Upshall just 1:08 later to regain the lead for good. Derek MacKenzie’s empty net goal sealed the 5-3 win in a crucial game for the Panthers. Florida trailed 2-0 after one period of play, after Roberto Luongo allowed two goals on six shots in the opening frame. For the next 40 minutes the Panthers controlled play, out shooting the Sabres 47-14 for the game. In a second period that saw the shots 19-4 in their favor, the Panthers grabbed the lead. Brandon Pirri scored a pair of power play goals to tie things up and Nick Bjugstad’s 22nd of the season made it 3-2 heading to the third. Buffalo would rally to tie it but in the end it wasn’t enough. The victory keeps the Panthers four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Now the club will host rival Tampa Bay on home ice on Sunday evening. This is a home stand that the Panthers have to make up some ground on and pulling off a victory over a club like the Lightning would put them in great shape as they head into the final four games.
Tampa Bay knows that they’ll be playing in the post season but the club is still looking to find a way to overtake the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division. After a bit of a rough patch the Lightning look like their finding their game again, winning three of their last four games. Friday night was one of their more impressive victories in a while as they out classed the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. With plenty of Blackhawk fans in attendance the two teams played to a scoreless first period before Brian Boyle put the Bolts on the scoreboard with his 13th goal of the season in the second period. Steven Stamkos made it 2-0 with his 33rd of the year late in the frame to essentially put the game out of reach. Ryan Callahan and Stamkos each added power play goals in the third period to finish the scoring in the 4-0 win. Ben Bishop improved his stellar record this season to 31-10-3 after recording his second shut out of the season. Tampa Bay continues to lead the National Hockey League in goals per game and with Bishop in net they are a legitimate threat to make the Stanley Cup Final coming out of the East.
The goaltending match up in this one will play a big factor so check in closer to game time to see who each club goes with. Either way this game has the potential to be a shootout.