TAMPA -- The battle of bottom of the two teams sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings needed extra time to decide.
Peter Mueller had the deciding goal in the shootout to thwart Tampa Bay's third-period comeback for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.
Alex Killorn and Tom Pyatt each had third-period goals for Tampa Bay while Mathieu Garon finished with 23 saves for the Lightning. Greg Rallo and Tomas Kopecky each deflected T.J. Brennan point shots for power play goals for Florida in support of Jacob Markstrom, who finished with 39 saves.
The Panthers opened the scoring, quickly cashing in on a power play chance when recently acquired defenseman Brennan snapped home a one-time wrist shot off a crisp cross-ice feed from Tomas Fleischmann that was deflected by Kopecky at 8:36, just 13 seconds after Tom Pyatt was whistled for hooking. The lead held up into the first intermission, thanks to Markstrom in net, as the Panthers had to kill off two consecutive power plays, including 25 seconds of a two-man advantage.
Markstrom continued his strong play in the second period, coming up with some in-tight saves to keep the Lightning off the board and the Panthers in the lead. That proved to be a big factor as Pyatt was whistled for a second penalty late in the second period, and once again it was Brennan coming up with the big play on the power play, with a big shot from the far right point that deflected off Greg Rallo and over Garon for his first career goal at 16:41. While the Florida power play was coming up with the big plays, Tampa Bay's power play continued to be stifled, with a late chance coming with two minutes left in the second.
Pyatt, who committed both penalties that led to Florida's first two goals, pulled Tampa Bay to within a goal working a give-and-go with Teddy Purcell before whacking a puck past Markstrom at 5:38 of the third period. Alex Killorn pulled the Lighting even with a rebound goal after Victor Hedman caromed a shot off the end boards at 10:32.
NOTES: Lightning C Vinny Lecavalier skated for the first time with the team since suffering a lower-body injury on March 12 at Florida. Lecavalier has not ruled out returning for Thursday's game in Carolina. ... Tampa Bay dealt D Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward Adam Hall and a seventh-round draft pick in 2013. ... Florida will play three of the next four games at home -- with only a one-game trip to Winnipeg -- over the next two weeks. ... Panthers C Drew Shore missed Tuesday's game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day. Center Greg Rallo was called up from AHL San Antonio to replace Shore. ... The Lightning acquired former 2009 first-round pick LW Philippe Paradis from Chicago in exchange for D Kiril Gotovets, a seventh-round pick in 2009 who is currently playing for Cornell University.
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