Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Matthew Tkachuk notches 5 points as Panthers pound Lightning

Field Level Media
07 Feb 2023, 13:19 GMT+10

Matthew Tkachuk produced a five-point outing as the Florida Panthers returned from the All-Star break to crush the rival Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1 on Monday in Sunrise, Fla.

Two days after earning MVP honors on home ice and leading the Atlantic Division to a 7-5 win over the Central Division in theNHL All-Star Game final, Tkachuk scored twice and handed out three assists as Florida broke an seven-game losing streak against the Lightning (regular season and postseason).

Carter Verhaeghe added two goals and two assists and Sam Bennett had a goal and two assists for Florida. The second line of Tkachuk, Bennett and Verhaeghe totaled 12 points and finished with a combined plus-13 rating.

Eetu Luostarinen and Eric Staal also found the net for the Panthers, who are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games. Brandon Montour's assist stretched his club-record point streak for a defenseman to 10 games. Aaron Ekblad had two helpers.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky notched 32 saves, but captain Aleksander Barkov was hurt in the second period after blocking a shot and did not return.

Florida's Paul Maurice became the sixth NHL coach to record 800 wins.

The Lightning's Nikita Kucherov scored while Andrei Vasilevskiy surrendered seven goals on 49 shots. Fourth-line left winger Vladislav Namestnikov skated in his 600th game. Tampa Bay had a three-game winning streak end.

The home side took a 1-0 lead after Tkachuk stole a pass from defenseman Erik Cernak in Florida's offensive zone. He sped through the left circle and fed Verhaeghe, who lifted a quick one-timer for his 27th goal at 8:04 of the first period.

In the second, Tkachuk kept handing out the helpers. He deftly slid a pass from behind the Lightning net right to wide-open Bennett, who notched his 13th marker at 1:42.

Just 82 seconds later with Bobrovsky screened by traffic, Kucherov rifled home a long shot from up top for his 20th -- an unconventional area for the right winger to score from.

But Tkachuk answered at 8:40 just after the game's first power play ended, getting control of a shot by Verhaeghe, controlling the puck and batting it in for his 26th goal.

Barkov left in the second, but the Panthers added on when Luostarinen deflected Montour's shot at 17:56 to push it to 4-1.

After Staal jammed his eighth goal into an open net following a misplay by Vasilevskiy at 2:53 of the third, Verhaeghe scored at 5:26 and Tkachuk chipped one home on the power play at 14:23.

Tkachuk leads the NHL with 22 points since Jan. 10.

--Field Level Media

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