Lightning get elusive win in Sunrise, beat Panthers 2-1 in shootout

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead in this one when former Bolt Cory Stillman was able to beat Lightning goalie Dan Ellis less then a minute into the game to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. The goal 50 seconds into the game was Stillman's 6th of the year to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. The Lightning would answer back though when the St. Louis-Stamkos-Downie line rushed up the ice on a three on two break, and like they have done so many times, put together a beautiful passing play to score a goal. St. Louis took the puck up the left wing, and hit Stamkos in the slot with a pass. With the Panthers defense converging on Stamkos, he was able to push a pass to the right side to a wide open Downie who beat Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun to tie the score at one. For Downie, the goal at 14:05 was his 4th of the year.

Into the second period, the story in this game would be two fold. First, the ability to kill off penalties. The Lightning killed off all eight penalties whistled against them tonight. Second, and most importantly, Dan Ellis. Ellis was in rare form against the Panthers on this night, playing his best game of his young Lightning career, and having no problem keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard after the early first period goal. Ellis made several highlight reel worthy saves to keep his team in it throughout the second and third periods when Florida turned up the pressure.

Into the overtime, there was some late drama in this game when Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier was pulled down on the breakaway. Lecavaalier was awarded a penalty shot, but was not able to beat Vokoun.

With the score still deadlocked at one after the overtime, the game went to the shootout, and the script was almost exactly the same as a night ago. Victor Hedman was the first shooter, and he was stopped. Adam Hall was the Lightning's second shooter, and he was stopped as well. That left it up to Dominic Moore, who for the second night in a row, beat the opposing goaltender and put the Lightning in the win column.

For the Lightning, getting a win in Sunrise is huge as they embark on a franchise high 12 game home stand. They will take to the ice again on Sunday when the Atlanta Thrashers come to town. The Lightning are looking to sweep the season series against Atlanta, and stay ahead of Washington in the the Southeast Division race.

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Sometimes there are things in sports that are beyond explanation. The Lightning beating Atlanta in ten straight games, for example. Or the Bolts' struggles against the Panthers in Sunrise. The Bank Atlantic Center has been a house of horrors for the Lightning, with the team sporting a 13-26-4 record in their trips to South Florida. Coming off two straight shootout wins, the Lightning were hoping to build on some recent momentum and get that elusive win in Sunrise when they took on the Panthers Friday night. Apparently, Dan Ellis had seen enough Friday night, as he played his best game of the year, leading the Lightning to a 2-1 victory in the shootout for their third straight win.

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