Stamkos has 4 points, Lightning beat Panthers 7-3

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay scored early and often in another home victory over Florida.

Steven Stamkos had a goal and three assists and the Lightning reclaimed the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 7-3 victory over the Panthers on Wednesday night.

"Guys were battling all night," Stamkos said. "That's just what you want to see. Compete, and then when you compete the skill takes over."

Nikita Kucherov and Ryan McDonagh each had a goal and two assists. Mathieu Joseph, Yanni Gourde, Adam Erne and Dan Giradi also scored, J.T. Miller had three assists, and Louis Domingue made 40 saves.

"It's tough to lose when you score seven," said Domingue, who was won three of four filling in for injured starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I just thought we played a great game from start to finish."

Vasilevskiy has a fractured left foot and will miss three to five more weeks.

The Lightning are 11-1-1 at home against Florida since the start of the 2013-14 season.

Panthers left wing Mike Hoffman extended his points streak to 17 games (10 goals, 20 points) with a late third-period power-play goal. He is the fifth player in NHL history to have a points streak of at least 17 games in his first season with a franchise.

Troy Brouwer and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers. They are 2-3 on a six-game trip. Roberto Luongo was pulled early in the third after allowing six goals on 28 shots.

"We kind of let Luon out to dry there," Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. "Ultimately they were coming in waves at us all game and we didn't have a response."

Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 early in the second when Gourde scored on an in-close give-and-go with Stamkos at 2:37 before Erne put home a backhander 2:08 later.

Barkov made it 4-2 on the power play with 1:35 remaining in the second.

Stamkos, McDonagh and Girardi had third-period goals. It was Girardi's first goal in 23 games.

"Just too many unforced errors," Hoffman said. "You can't be giving up that many goals if you expect to win any game."

Joseph stole the puck from Alexander Petrovic and scored on a backhander 59 seconds into the game.

"We just feed off that," Stamkos said.

After Brouwer scored at 2:19 of the first, Kucherov's power-play goal put the Lightning up 2-1 with 10:38 left in the period.

Kucherov has two goals and nine points during a four-game point streak.

NOTES: Panthers C Vincent Trocheck had surgery for a fractured right ankle and may play again this season. Trocheck was hurt in Monday night's game at Ottawa. "He's bummed out," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "The surgery went well. He'll be back. It's just a matter of when." ... Former Lightning star Martin St. Louis was honored before game following his induction last week into the Hockey Hall of Fame. "It's the ultimate honor," St. Louis said. "I can't believe I'm part of that group."


Panthers: At Carolina on Friday night.

Lightning: Host Chicago Friday night.


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