Two nights ago, Florida and Tampa Bay combined to score eight times in regulation — four goals each — before the Panthers captured an exciting shootout victory.
Tonight, there was nowhere near the same amount of offense.
But the finish was just as dramatic.
After 59 minutes of scoreless hockey, Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winning (and only) tally as the Panthers knocked off the Bolts 1-0 at BB&T. The goal, Ekblad’s third in his last four games, came on assists from Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, and gave Roberto Luongo his first shutout of the season.
The veteran netminder was full credit for the clean sheet, too, stopping all 39 shots faced — including 15 in the final frame.
This was a big win for the Panthers, who’ve now won three of four on the heels of an ugly five-game losing streak. It was also a feather in the cap for Luongo, who matched a season-high for shots faced (he’s seen 39 two other times this season) and managed to stymie Bolts captain Steve Stamkos, who finished with a team-high six shots.
As for the Lightning, tonight was the latest in what’s been an erratic month.
The club is just 3-3-1 in November, flipping back and forth between looking like a team that’s on the verge of breaking out offensively, then one that can’t seem to find the back of the net.
But still — for the highest-scoring team in hockey last year, tonight’s shutout marked the second time in five games the Bolts have been blanked.