By PAUL GEREFFI
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Ekblad and the Florida Panthers benefited from a little last-minute luck against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ekblad scored with 20.2 seconds left to give the Panthers a 1-0 win over the Lightning on Monday night.
Ekblad shot from the point and the puck bounced off the skate of defenseman Victor Hedman and over the shoulder of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy into the net.
"Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky . good screens in front and just lucky — can’t say anything else," Ekblad said. "(Nick) Bjugstad was in front battling with Hedman. He had no idea that it hit the guy’s skate. It goes up and over . it’s great."
The game seemed destined for overtime but Ekblad’s goal denied the Lightning a point.
"Ekblad should buy a lottery ticket," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Roberto Luongo stopped 39 shots for his 69th career shutout. Luongo tied Glenn Hall for eighth all-time in wins with 407. The Panthers beat the Lightning for the second time in three nights and won for only the second time in nine home games against Tampa Bay.
"It took a nice shot with a lucky bounce at the end to go our way and get a big win in regulation," Luongo said.
Vasilevskiy made 18 saves for the Lightning, who have lost nine of their past 12. The Lightning have been shut out four times this season.
"They got the fortunate break at the end but we still didn’t score a goal," Cooper said.
The Panthers were sluggish on offense throughout and went 14:54 during the first period without a shot and recorded four.
"It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll feel a lot better tomorrow when we get two points in the standings," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "They probably deserved a better fate, but Luongo was outstanding tonight."
The game was a marked contrast from Saturday’s 5-4 shootout won by Florida.
NOTES: Panthers C Aleksander Barkov returned after missing 10 games with a hand injury. … D Dmitry Kulikov missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Gerard Gallant coached his 100th game for the Panthers. … Lightning forwards Mike Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault, recalled from AHL Syracuse on Sunday, both played. … C Cedric Paquette was scratched with a lower-body injury.
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