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Wennberg's hat trick leads Panthers over Lightning 5-1

Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) celebrates after scoring a goal with defenseman Keith Yandle (3) and center Aleksander Barkov (16) during the ...
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) saves a shot on goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers...
Florida Panthers center Alex Wennberg (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of a...
Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11) celebrates with right wing Owen Tippett (74) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NH...
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) loses his helmet during a brawl with Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) during the second per...
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) saves a potential Tampa Bay Lightning goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday...

Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) celebrates after scoring a goal with defenseman Keith Yandle (3) and center Aleksander Barkov (16) during the ...

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) saves a shot on goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers...

Florida Panthers center Alex Wennberg (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of a...

Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11) celebrates with right wing Owen Tippett (74) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NH...

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) loses his helmet during a brawl with Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) during the second per...

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) saves a potential Tampa Bay Lightning goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday...

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Alex Wennberg scored three goals to lead the Florida Panthers past the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Saturday night, keeping alive Florida's hopes of earning home-ice advantage in the upcoming first-round playoff series between the intrastate rivals.

The Panthers (36-14-5) moved two points ahead of the Lightning (36-16-3) and into second place in the Central Division. Florida can clinch home-ice advantage if it finishes ahead of Tampa Bay in the standings after the teams meet again Monday night to end their regular seasons.

The Lightning, who failed to pick up a point for the second consecutive game after going 6-0-1 in their previous seven, need a regulation victory to finish ahead of the Panthers.

Wennberg’s hat trick was the second of his career — both coming this season — and gave him 16 goals. Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.

Luke Schenn scored for Tampa Bay.

Bennett returned after missing the Panthers' overtime win over Dallas on Monday with an upper-body issue. His 10th goal of the season came on a power play with 16:53 left in the second.

The Lightning answered 1:45 later when Schenn controlled a crossing pass from Barclay Goodrow and slid the puck through traffic past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his second goal this season.

Wennberg’s second goal off an assist from Frank Vatrano with 7:07 left in the second gave Florida a multiple-goal lead for the remainder of the game.

NARROWING THE GAP?

The Panthers have won four of seven games this season against the reigning Stanley Cup champions with one of the Lightning’s victories coming in overtime. They have outscored the Lightning 27-24 this season.

OFFICIAL SWAN SONG

The game was the last in the career of longtime NHL linesman Pierre Racicot, who is retiring. Racicot officiated over 1,800 games and 10 Stanley Cup Finals as well as the 2006 Winter Olympics.

ALMOST READY

Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Carter Verhaeghe (upper body) sat out for Florida, but coach Joel Quenneville said both would have played had Saturday’s contest been a playoff game.

UP NEXT

The teams meet again on Monday in Sunrise.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Updated : 2021-06-20 22:01 GMT+08:00