Ross Colton’s goal with 3.8 seconds left gave the Tampa Bay Lightning an exciting 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals series in Sunrise, Fla. on Thursday.
With overtime looming, Colton headed into the net when Nikita Kucherov sent a no-look backhand pass off the endboards. Colton, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal last year, buried a high shot for his fifth goal of the 2022 playoffs.
Corey Perry also scored for two-time defending champion Lightning, who will look to take the Battle of Florida in a stranglehold when they host Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday – the first of two home games on back-to-back days.
Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves amid a stellar goaltender fight.
Eetu Luostarinen scored a goal for the Panthers, who topped the league in the regular season but are now struggling to edge out their state rivals. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots.
Perry, who was injured during warm-up when a puck he shot bounced off the bar and hit him in the face, scored Tampa Bay’s fourth power play goal of the series at 12:06 of the first period.
While Steven Stamkos held the puck in the left circle, Perry built up in the slot and redirected the shot pass for his fourth of the playoffs.
The Lightning have 11 power-play goals in their first nine games of the playoffs, the same total as their first 11 postseason games last year.
The Panthers pushed back and eventually pulled out a tie as Luostarinen scored his first career playoff goal, remaining 1:53 in the second period. After a drop pass from Gustav Forsling as they sped down the left wing, Luostarinen sent in a shot that trickled just over the goal line.
The Panthers had their chances to win. Vasilevskiy shone, but Florida missed four power-play opportunities and is now 0-25 in the playoffs.
The Lightning are known for their offensive play, but they’ve shown they can defend and are willing to make sacrifices. Tampa Bay let some players go into the locker room after blocking shots. Stamkos left the game twice while Brandon Hagel, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak all limped briefly once but all returned to finish the game.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/19/lightning-beat-panthers-to-take-2-0-series-lead/ Lightning defeats Panthers and takes a 2-0 lead