for this game

Horton propels Panthers past Lightning

Mar 23, 2008 - 4:04 AM
By Michael Snyder PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Nathan Horton has been a big key for the Florida Panthers in their pursuit of a postseason berth.

Horton scored twice and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester added a goal and an assist as the Panthers skated to a 4-2 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

Captain Olli Jokinen netted a power-play tally for the Panthers, who won their first seven games in March before losing to Carolina, 2-1, in a shootout on Thursday.

Florida (36-31-9) climbed within three points of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"I think everybody knows if we lose, we're done," Horton said. "It's a matter of do or die, and we've got to win every game."

The Panthers are trying to make the postseason for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. They have the second-longest playoff drought behind Columbus, which never has qualified for the postseason since joining the NHL in 2000-01.

Junior Lessard scored his first goal of the season and Mathieu Darche also tallied for Tampa Bay, which dropped its third straight after winning three in a row.

Horton snapped a 1-1 tie just 7:28 into the second period on a give-and-go with David Booth. The Ontario native fired the puck over goaltender Mike Smith's glove to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.

Horton added his 25th goal of the season with 2:17 remaining in the third period to give Florida a 4-1 advantage.

The Lightning, who occupy the basement in the East, had some great chances in the second period as they outshot the Panthers, 17-5. But they went 0-for-5 on the power play in the session, including 32 seconds with a two-man advantage.

"Obviously, we took a lot of penalties in the second period and gave them momentum," All-Star goaltender Tomas Vokoun said. "But we achieved what we wanted to. We're still in the race."

"I think this is a game where you give the two points to your goalie," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "Tomas was outstanding for us."

Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella felt there was only one thing wrong with his team's power play.

"We didn't score," he said.

Jokinen scored midway through the third, netting his team-leading 33rd goal of the season on a blast from the left faceoff circle.

Bouwmeester opened the scoring 3:31 into the game on the power play, when Smith was caught well out of position.

Smith, who frequently leaves his crease, knocked the puck down and attempted to send it to one of his teammates while near the right circle. Bouwmeester intercepted the pass and flicked the puck into the top right corner of the net for his 13th tally of the season.

Vokoun stopped a slap shot by Nick Tarnasky with traffic in front of the crease, but it was one of only three shots he faced in the first period.

"(Vokoun) came up with some really good saves," Tampa Bay All-Star center Vincent Lecavalier said. "We were moving the puck well and had some great chances, but he seemed to be there each time. He really came through in the clutch."

Vokoun was not as fortunate in the second as Lessard recorded his first goal since March 15, 2007 at 6:13 to tie the game at 1-1. Darche passed from behind the net to Lessard, who put a shot from the right circle just under Vokoun's glove.

"It wasn't our best game," said Panthers center Stephen Weiss, who assisted on Horton's first goal. "We were a little sloppy, a little sluggish. In our own zone, we weren't as sharp as we've been the last eight or nine games.

"It's a good sign when you don't play your best game and you're still able to get the two points."

Florida's 8-0-1 start to March is its best beginning to any month in franchise history. With six games remaining, things could get even better.

"When you play sports, (these) are the exact moments why you play," Vokoun said. "It's so much fun around here lately. It's unfortunate that with a little more focus, we could have done it (earlier), but that's behind us. We still have a lot of life. You just don't know. We have to be focused to the end and see what happens."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1 2
    FLORIDA 1 1 2 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 13 (UNASSISTED) 3:31
    2ND PRD: TAM - JUNIOR LESSARD 1 (MATHIEU DARCHE, FILIP KUBA) 6:13
    FLA - NATHAN HORTON 24 (DAVID BOOTH, STEPHEN WEISS) 7:28
    3RD PRD: FLA - (PP) OLLI JOKINEN 33 (BRETT MCL

    Mar 22 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    FLORIDA 4
    3RD PRD: TAM - MATHIEU DARCHE 6 (FILIP KUBA, ANDREAS KARLSSON) 18:49

    Lightning 2, Panthers 4  3rd - 1:11Mar 22 9:31 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    FLORIDA 4
    3RD PRD: FLA - (EN) NATHAN HORTON 25 (UNASSISTED) 17:43

    Lightning 1, Panthers 4  3rd - 2:17Mar 22 9:28 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    FLORIDA 3
    3RD PRD: FLA - (PP) OLLI JOKINEN 33 (BRETT MCLEAN) 10:10

    Lightning 1, Panthers 3  3rd - 9:50Mar 22 9:13 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1
    FLORIDA 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 13 (UNASSISTED) 3:31
    2ND PRD: TAM - JUNIOR LESSARD 1 (MATHIEU DARCHE, FILIP KUBA) 6:13
    FLA - NATHAN HORTON 24 (DAVID BOOTH, STEPHEN WEISS) 7:28
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3

    Mar 22 8:36 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    FLORIDA 2
    2ND PRD: FLA - NATHAN HORTON 24 (DAVID BOOTH, STEPHEN WEISS) 7:28

    Lightning 1, Panthers 2  2nd - 12:32Mar 22 8:13 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    FLORIDA 1
    2ND PRD: TAM - JUNIOR LESSARD 1 (MATHIEU DARCHE, FILIP KUBA) 6:13

    Lightning 1, Panthers 1  2nd - 13:47Mar 22 8:08 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    FLORIDA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 13 (UNASSISTED) 3:31
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 3 3
    FLA 9 9
    GOALIES: TAM - MIKE SMITH
    FLA - TOMAS VO

    Mar 22 7:39 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    FLORIDA 1
    1ST PRD: FLA - (PP) JAY BOUWMEESTER 13 (UNASSISTED) 3:31

    Lightning 0, Panthers 1  1st - 16:29Mar 22 7:15 PM