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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Game 3: Florida Panthers 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 3

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TAMPA — The mantra of the Tampa Bay Lightning before Game 3 of its playoff series against the Florida Panthers Thursday was ‘Don’t Count Us Out.’

The Panthers are doing that themselves.

Florida is on the verge of slaying its personal dragon, taking a commanding lead in its best-of-7 first-round series after dropping the Lightning 5-3.

The Panthers can end this thing in a sweep on Saturday.

Florida, which has not had a 3-0 series lead since, well, the 2023 Eastern Conference finals, had a couple of moments where its will was tested by a veteran Lightning team.

Only the Panthers came out the other side.

Anton Lundell and Matthew Tkachuk teamed up for the first goal of the game, a 1-0 lead Florida took into the second.

Tampa Bay did not score on its third power play chance to open the second, but Steven Stamkos did score not long after it ended. Tyler Motte then made it 2-1 as the Lightning turned the volume up and were taking it to Florida.

Then, Sam Reinhart happened.

When it looked like Florida was getting into an unwanted track meet with the Lightning, Reinhart sniped one from the right circle midway through the second to tie it.

Later in the second, Brandon Montour scored from 60 feet out on a goal completely set up by Florida’s dominant fourth line.

Montour’s blueline bomb gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.

Florida and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky finally got some breathing room when Nick Cousins and Steven Lorentz got things cooking midway through the third.

Tampa Bay would cut the lead to 1 once more with 5:10 left, Nicholas Paul scoring from the slot off a nice pass from Anthony Duclair.

Tkachuk iced it with his second of the night, this one into an empty net with 31.5 seconds left.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Lightning 0 (10:39, 1st): Anton Lundell plays one of his many strong shifts in this one, tracking down a puck behind the net — and feeding a crashing Matthew Tkachuk for the early lead.
  • Lightning 1, Panthers 1 (0:44, 2nd): Steven Stamkos posts up Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the blue paint, gets a piece of a Victor Hedman shot from the wall.
  • Lightning 2, Panthers 1 (2:56, 2nd): Tyler Motte drills one through traffic from the slot as it looks like Tampa Bay has awoken.
  • Panthers 2, Lightning 2 (9:58, 2nd): Sam Reinhart gets the Panthers right back into it, going top shelf from the right circle for his 59th of this season.
  • Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (16:30, 2nd): A fantastic shift from Kyle Okposo and Steven Lorentz leads to a Brandon Montour shot from the blue and the lead back.
  • Panthers 4, Lightning 2 (9:41, 3rd): The fourth line again did a fantastic job of getting, and keeping, the puck in the offensive zone. Steven Lorentz ends up charging into the slot and knocking a puck delivered from Nick Cousins it past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
  • Panthers 4, Lightning 3 (14:50, 3rd): Nicholas Paul scores from the slot to give the Lightning some life.
  • Panthers 5, Lightning 3 (19:28, 3rd EN): Tkachuk with No. 2.

GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida

2. Steven Lorentz, Florida

3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (WC1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1)
PANTHERS LEAD BEST-OF-7 SERIES 3-0
GAME 4

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