By Mike Bonts
The Florida Panthers (21-20-4) and Tampa Bay Lightning (28-13-1) spent MLK Day in rinks on the road. Both came out with wins. Florida beat the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3. Tampa Bay defeated the Seattle Kraken, 4-1.
Matthew Tkachuk dished out three assists and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves as the Panthers opened their road trip with a win at KeyBank Center.
“We built trust in each other, trust in the system,” said Bobrovsky, who has started 15 of the last 19 games for the Panthers. “We just work hard, compete hard. We have a tough schedule, but it doesn’t matter for us. We’re just working hard for each other and working for those two points.”
Brandon Montour fired a shot past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 4:01 of the first period.
Sam Bennett beat Luukkonen from the right circle to make it 2-0 at 8:04.
Anton Lundell made it 3-0. Carter Verhaeghe shot the puck into the empty net to make it 4-1 with his 20th goal of the season at 18:22.
The Lightning put an end to Seattle’s eight-game winning streak on Monday afternoon at Climate Pledge Arena.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare gave the Bolts a 1-0 lead towards the end of the first period at 18:43, redirecting a shot from the point. Nick Paul notched his 16th goal of the season and 25th point after forcing a turnover to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 6:44 of the third period.
Vince Dunn put the Kraken on the board at 10:44 of the third period and cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1.
Brandon Hagel deposited the puck into an empty net to extend the Bolts’ lead to 3-1 at 18:21 of the third period. The goal was his 17th of the season and his 36th point. Victor Hedman scored the Bolts’ 2nd empty-net goal of the game and his 2nd goal of the season at 19:16 of the third frame and gave the Lightning a 4-1 lead.
Lightning goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his 20th win of the season stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced.
The Lightning will continue their road trip on Wednesday night at Rogers Center in Vancouver (18-22-3).
The Panthers will head into Canada to close out their back-to-back with a matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (26-11-7) at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday.
(Mike Bonts is hockey editor for Florida Sports Wire and SportsDay.)