TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tyler Johnson broke a tie on a power play midway through the third period to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Sunday.
Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point each had a goal and an assist, Alex Killorn and Mathieu Joseph also scored, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 29 shots to improve to 3-3 1. The Lightning opened a four-point lead over Florida in the Central Division standings.
Gustav Forsling, Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe scored for Florida, which lost in regulation for the third time in 14 road games.
Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 19 saves for the Panthers.
After Florida rallied twice to tie it, Johnson put Tampa Bay in front for good at 10:56 of the third period, driving to the net to tap in a pass from Yanni Gourde. The Lightning then had to kill off a Florida power- play chance with 4:27 left before Point scored into an empty net with 14.3 seconds left.
“We kept inching away and they kept coming back so there was no time to hang your heads,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “So the boys just kept coming and in the end our special teams got through, killed off a couple big PPs and scored one ourselves and then (McElhinney) came through for us, so it was a team effort.’’
Florida opened the scoring on Verhaeghe’s 12th of the season at 3:28 of the first period but Tampa Bay answered on the next shift as Gourde found a rebound from Barclay Goodrow’s initial chance 32 seconds later.
The two teams exchanged goals in the second, Killorn at 11:23 and Forsling on the power play at 18:24. Joseph put Tampa Bay in front at 5:22 of the third, but Hornqvist answered with a power-play goal at 6:25 before Johnson regained the lead for the Lightning.
“It’s one of those games where you play these guys, it’s going to be tight,” Florida defenseman Keith Yandle said. “I really liked our effort. I thought we worked hard, we played hard for 60 minutes.’’
SUNSHINE STATE SHOWDOWN
The game marked the fifth time the state rivals faced each other while holding down first and second place in the division through at least 15 games. In happened twice in 2015-16 and twice in 2003-04
MAC SHUT DOWN
Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game after the first period with an undisclosed lower-body injury and did not return. McDonagh’s final shift ended with 21 seconds remaining in the period.
Panthers: At Chicago on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Lightning: At Dallas on Tuesday and Thursday nights.