Simon Gagne also scored for the Lightning, who improved to 3-1-1 this preseason and 12-3-3 over the last three years.
Jason Garrison had goal for Florida, which dropped its second consecutive game after winning its first three.
Goalie Mike Smith made 29 saves in his first start of the preseason for Tampa Bay breaking his finger during practice Sept. 20.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 40 shots for Florida. He helped the Panthers kill off eight Tampa Bay power plays. Florida is now 32 for 32 in penalty killing this preseason.
The teams meet Saturday night in Tampa in the preseason finale for both.
Florida was playing its first preseason game at home. The Panthers were scheduled to play host to Carolina on Wednesday night, but the game was canceled because of tropical storm Nicole.
Gagne scored his third goal of the preseason at 8:24 of the second period off a 2-on-1 with Vincent Lecavalier. Vokoun stopped Gagne's redirect of Lecavalier's pass, but Gagne's backhanded off the rebound trickled over his shoulder.
Garrison tied at 14:35 of the third period when he put his own rebound past Smith.