- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

SUNRISE, FLA. (AP) - Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo stopped all three shots in a shootout, and Steven Stamkos scored the only goal in the tiebreaker to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Stamkos beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun with a deke to the backhand for the win for Tampa Bay, which had rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Ramo stopped Cory Stillman, David Booth and Michael Frolik. He secured the victory when he stopped Frolik’s shot with his blocker.

Tampa Bay also got goals from Jeff Halpern, Martin St. Louis and Cory Murphy, a former Panther.

Booth had two goals and an assist for the Panthers. Frolik also scored for Florida, while Stephen Weiss had two assists.

It was an important game for Panthers, who have struggled of late. Florida lost 3-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, two days after losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Florida, which hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2000, moved into a tie with the New York Rangers for eighth place in the tight Eastern Conference.

Ramo made 34 saves in regulation and overtime for the Lightning, who were coming off Thursday’s 4-1 win over Toronto.

Vokoun stopped 24 shots in regulation and overtime for Florida, which opened a five-game homestand Saturday. Eight of Florida’s remaining 13 games will be played in Sunrise.

Booth made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 2:49 remaining in the second period. Cory Stillman’s backhand from a sharp angle bounced off the goal post, then Booth’s backhand went between Ramo’s legs. But Murphy quickly followed Booth’s goal with one of his own. Murphy scored on a power play with 1:39 left in second period with a slap shot from the point.

Booth scored his second goal of the night at 5:35 in the third period to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead. Weiss’ pass to the front of the net went off a skate and into the slot, where Booth put home another backhand.

St. Louis made it 3-2 when he deflected Lukas Krajicek’s shot from the point past Vokoun with 6:18 left in the third period.

Then Halpern tied it 3 with 3:30 left in regulation. After a Florida giveaway behind the net, Richard Petiot spun around and passed the puck across the crease to Halpern, who one-timed it.

Frolik put the Panthers up 1-0 with 4:11 left in the first period. He took a pass from Booth and beat Ramo with a wrist shot from the high slot.

Notes:@ Florida sent D Noah Welch to Tampa Bay before the NHL trade deadline on March 4, acquiring D Steve Eminger in the deal. Saturday’s game was the first time Eminger and Welch skated against their former teams. … Panthers D Bryan McCabe missed his third straight game because of a fractured orbital bone. … Panthers LW Rostislav Olesz played for the first time since Dec. 4. He had surgery for a sports hernia earlier this year. … Tampa Bay LW Matt Pettinger played in his 400th game.

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