Steven Stamkos scores 2, Vasilevskiy has 47 saves as Lightning beat Panthers 5-3

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stamkos celebrates bolts defeat panthers
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored two goals, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 47 shots and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Saturday night.

Darren Raddysh, Michael Eyssimont and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning, who have won four of five. Vasilevskiy had 16 saves in the second period when Tampa Bay was outshot 18-3.

“He was dialed in,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said of Vasilevskiy. “He’s been one of, if not the best goalie in the league since he got here, it feels like. We know what he is capable of and today was one of those days.”

The Lightning are four points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the top wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Sam Reinhart had two goals and Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist as Florida lost its second straight after winning eight of nine. Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 11 saves.

The Panthers entered the night with the best record in the NHL, sitting one point ahead of the division-rival Boston Bruins.

Josh Mahura appeared to score for Florida 3:38 into the second period but the goal was taken off the board after it was determined teammate Dmitry Kulikov took a match penalty for elbowing just before the goal was scored.

“I’ve never seen one of those,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “But that’s the beauty of the National Hockey League. They will always surprise you with something.”

Stamkos got the Lightning on the scoreboard just 20 seconds into the game, and Eyssimont doubled the lead with his 10th of the season 13 minutes later.

Raddysh got his fifth at 3:02 of the second and Stamkos scored on a power-play for his 27th to make it 4-0 at 6:59.

Tkachuk got the Panthers on the scoreboard with a short-handed goal 1:24 later, and Reinhart made it 4-2 with a power-play score with 8:05 left in the middle period.

Reinhart then pulled Florida within one with his 48th 3:52 remaining in the game.

Kucherov sealed the Lightning’s win with an empty-netter with 1:32 to go.

“I mean, listen, you want to start the game quick every time, but we knew this stretch was going to be tough,” Stamkos said. “We’re playing some really good teams and we found a way to get some huge points for us in the standings, so we just have to keep going.”

UP NEXT

Lightning: Visit Vegas on Tuesday night.

Panthers: Host Nashville on Thursday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL