for this game

Peltonen, Panthers ruin Lightning's chance for division title

Apr 7, 2007 - 5:39 AM
TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning looked nothing like a team vying for a division title.

Rookies Janis Sprukts and Kamil Kreps each scored their first career goals and Ville Peltonen recorded three assists as the Florida Panthers spoiled the Lightning's chances for the top spot in the Southeast Division with a resounding 7-2 victory.

Captain Olli Jokinen and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had a goal and an assist apiece and Ed Belfour made 20 saves for Florida, which scored the first seven tallies of the game while limiting Tampa Bay to just 10 shots over the first two periods.

Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky scored 45 seconds apart midway through the third to avoid a shutout for the Lightning (44-33-4), who needed a victory to remain one point behind the first-place Atlanta Thrashers (42-28-11) in the Southeast. However, Tampa Bay's lackluster play prevented Saturday's meeting with Atlanta from being a showdown for the division crown.

"I care to remember the team as how they played for the past 3 1/2 to four months," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "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."

With the loss, the Lightning still trail the New York Rangers (42-29-10) by two points for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. With a win over Atlanta and a triumph by Pittsburgh over New York on Saturday, Tampa Bay will capture the sixth seed and set up a conference quarterfinal matchup with Atlanta.

"We have to concentrate on tomorrow night now and focus on getting ready for the playoffs," said Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, who leads the league with 52 goals. "We'll be fine. We are in the playoffs, and that's what our focus will be."

Nathan Horton, defenseman Noah Welch and rookie David Booth also scored for the Panthers, who won the season series against the Lightning with a 5-2-1 record.

"It was a pretty special night for us," Horton said. "Anytime you can play well in a rivalry of this type, it means something. It's always nice to beat them, but this one is definitely sweet."

"It's nice to come in here and play with a lot of pride," Booth added. "We wanted to make a statement and did just that. We knew what was at stake for them, for sure. But we showed a lot of character and the kind of team we are."

The three-point effort by Peltonen came nine games after he set a career high with two goals and two assists against the New York Islanders on March 17. Entering that contest, the 33-year-old Finn never had recorded more than two points in 236 NHL games.

But instead of focusing on his personal accomplishments, Peltonen elected to praise the performance of his team.

"We showed a tremendous amount of heart, I thought," he said. "We didn't back down with so much riding on the game for them and we came out and finished strong."

Johan Holmqvist allowed four goals on 12 shots before being pulled by Tampa Bay, which had won three in a row and five of seven.

"We'll be ready when the playoffs start," Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis said. "We'll be ready."

Horton began the onslaught for Florida less than three minutes into the game with his 31st goal and Welch ignited a spurt of three tallies in a 2:46 span with a wrist shot from the left point that sailed through a crowd and over Holmqvist's left shoulder with 5:52 remaining in the first.

"This was one of our best games, no doubt," Horton said. "We came out and knew what we were up against."

Booth scored on a wrister from the top of the slot just over two minutes later and Bouwmeester capped the outburst 40 seconds afterward, tucking in a loose puck in the crease after Holmqvist stopped Peltonen's initial shot from the left circle. Booth's tally was his third of the season and first in eight games.

"It's about time I got a fortunate bounce," the 22-year-old said. "I guess it's better late than never."

Sprukts netted his first goal in 12 career games at 3:35 of the second, beating Marc Denis to the short side with a wrister from the left circle.

"It felt good to get that first goal, especially in an atmosphere like this," said Sprukts, a 26-year-old Latvian who was an eighth-round pick in 2000. "We knew how much this game meant to them, and to come in for my first time and play in this kind of environment and contribute was special."

Jokinen made it 6-0 with 8:08 to go in the period and Kreps scored for the first time in 13 NHL contests 1:43 into the third for a seven-goal margin.

"It's nice to see our young kids contributing," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "We have a lot of talent there and they played well and gave us quality minutes tonight."

Tallies by Ward and Tarnasky later in the session prevented the Lightning from suffering their worst loss of the season. Tampa Bay dropped a 7-1 decision on March 18 to Washington.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 4 2 1 7
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 2 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 31 (JAY BOUWMEESTER, VILLE PELTONEN)
    2:56
    FLA - NOAH WELCH 2 (MIKE VAN RYN) 14:11
    FLA - DAVID BOOTH 3 (UNASSISTED) 16:14
    FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 11 (VILLE PELTONEN, OLLI JOKINEN)
    16:56
    2ND PRD:

    Apr 6 10:20 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 7
    TAMPA BAY 2
    3RD PRD: TAM - NICK TARNASKY 5 (NOLAN PRATT, RUSLAN FEDOTENKO) 12:04

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 10:10 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 7
    TAMPA BAY 1
    3RD PRD: TAM - JASON WARD 8 (BRAD RICHARDS, SHANE O'BRIEN) 11:17

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 10:10 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 7
    TAMPA BAY 0
    3RD PRD: FLA - KAMIL KREPS 1 (UNASSISTED) 1:53

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 9:55 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 4 2 6
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 31 (JAY BOUWMEESTER, VILLE PELTONEN)
    2:56
    FLA - NOAH WELCH 2 (MIKE VAN RYN) 14:11
    FLA - DAVID BOOTH 3 (UNASSISTED) 16:14
    FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 11 (VILLE PELTONEN, OLLI JOKINEN)
    1

    Apr 6 9:34 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 6
    TAMPA BAY 0
    2ND PRD: FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 38 (VILLE PELTONEN, STEVE MONTADOR) 11:52

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 5
    TAMPA BAY 0
    2ND PRD: FLA - JANIS SPRUKTS 1 (MIKE VAN RYN) 3:35

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 9:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 4 4
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 31 (JAY BOUWMEESTER, VILLE PELTONEN)
    2:56
    FLA - NOAH WELCH 2 (MIKE VAN RYN) 14:11
    FLA - DAVID BOOTH 3 (UNASSISTED) 16:14
    FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 11 (VILLE PELTONEN, OLLI JOKINEN)
    1

    Apr 6 8:45 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 4
    TAMPA BAY 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 11 (VILLE PELTONEN, OLLI JOKINEN)
    16:56

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 8:41 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    TAMPA BAY 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - DAVID BOOTH 3 (UNASSISTED) 16:14

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 8:38 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    TAMPA BAY 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - NOAH WELCH 2 (MIKE VAN RYN) 14:11

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    TAMPA BAY 0
    1ST PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 31 (JAY BOUWMEESTER, VILLE PELTONEN) 2:56

    Panthers vs. LightningApr 6 8:14 PM