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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Back to Sunrise: Lightning Show Up, Beat Florida Panthers 6-3

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TAMPA — The Florida Panthers expected the Tampa Bay Lightning to come out Saturday as if its season depended on it.

Not sure the Panthers were actually completely ready for what Tampa brought, however.

The Lightning played its best period of this series, opening with three goals in the first 16 minutes of play.

Although the Panthers got within a goal, Tampa Bay and its biggest stars showed up for this one and kept the first-round series going with a 6-3 win.

Florida still controls the best-of-7 series with a 3-1 lead; Game 5 will be Monday night in Sunrise.

The Lightning got its first three goals off a mixture of power play (Steven Stamkos), penalty kill (Brandon Hagel) and 4-on-4 (Brayden Point).

The Panthers came out flying in the second, making it 3-1 on Carter Verhaeghe’s goal.

Down 4-1 in the second, the Panthers pulled within one on goals from Sam Reinhart and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Florida appeared to have all of the momentum, something it carried into the third.

Only Andrei Vasilevskiy was great again, and the Panthers never got closer.

Midway through the third, Stamkos got his second of the game with a pretty no-look shot from the top of the circle.

It was the only 5-on-5 goal Florida allowed on Saturday.

By the end, things deteriorated with Brandon Montour going in for cross-checking Nikita Kucherov with Gus Forsling already in the box.

Nick Paul made it 6-4 with the 5-on-3 goal and that ended things.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Lightning 1, Panthers 0 (8:54, 1st PP): Steven Stamkos gets Tampa its first power-play goal in six tries at home this season, slapping one in from his office.
  • Lightning 2, Panthers 0 (12:09, 1st SH): Brandon Hagel fires off a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.
  • Lightning 3, Panthers 0 (15:07, 1st 4/4): Brayden Point gets into the swing of things with a wraparound goal.
  • Lightning 3, Panthers 1 (4:17, 2nd): Carter Verhaeghe gets Florida on the board, scoring from in front of the net off a backdoor feed from Matthew Tkachuk.
  • Lightning 4, Panthers 1 (9:40, 2nd 4/4): Hagel gets his second of the night, scoring from 30 feet out.
  • Lightning 4, Panthers 2 (11:10, 2nd): Sam Reinhart hops on a loose puck in front of the net, scoring his 60th goal — third of the playoffs — of this season. That’s a franchise record.
  • Lightning 4, Panthers 3 (14:33, 2nd): Oliver Ekman-Larsson gets his first playoff goal since 2020 with the Coyotes, ripping a drop pass left by Evan Rodrigues past Andrei Vasilevskiy to bring the Panthers within a goal.
  • Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (9:34, 3rd): Stamkos gets his second of the day — and it was a beaut as he rifled a no-look shot from above the left circle and over Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove.
  • Lightning 6, Panthers 3 (16:22, 3rd 5/3): Nick Paul takes advantage of the two-man power play, scoring from down low.

GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

2. Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay

3. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (WC1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1)
PANTHERS LEAD BEST-OF-7 SERIES 3-1
GAME 5

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