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Panthers Playoff GameDay

Round 2 | Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Florida Panthers 1

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SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers season may be done.

Ross Colton’s goal with 3.4 seconds remaining in regulation put the Panthers on the ropes Thursday night as the Lightning went from headed to overtime to holding the hammer on its state rival.

Colton’s goal handed the Lightning a 2-1 win in Game 2, giving the Lightning a 2-0 series advantage with it now turning to Tampa.

Florida, to move on, has to win four of the final five games — with three in Tampa.

The Florida power play, of course, was the center of attention on Thursday night.

And not in a good way.

The Panthers, as many know, came into Game 2 without a power play goal in their first seven games of this postseason.

It did not come back to haunt them against Washington — but it already had in Game 1.

Tampa Bay’s success when playing up a man certainly is not helping Florida’s cause.

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On Thursday, the Lightning scored the first goal on its first power play chance, Steven Stamos perfectly feeding Corey Perry in the slot for a deflection past Sergei Bobrovsky with 7:54 left in the first.

That made the Lightning 4-for-7 on the power play in this series.

The Panthers got their first kick at it early in the second period. After getting off one shot, they left the ice to some mid-to-moderate booing.

When Florida did the same on its second power play chance — and Tampa Bay almost got a shorthanded goal out of it — the boo birds were out in force.

The Panthers were able to turn those frowns upside down with 1:53 left in the second as Eetu Luostarinen let one fly from the top side of the left circle.

The puck, magically, somehow trickled past Andrei Vasilevskiy and suddenly things were even.

Florida got its third power play chance late in the second and put up some good chances at Vasilevskiy but went into the second break tied at 1 — but, with 1:14 remaining of power play time.

One would think the Panthers would get a bunch of chances, what with all that time to work something up, only that was not the case.

Florida ended up closing that power play out without scoring again.

The Panthers were able to keep possession of the puck and came tantalizingly close to scoring on a Sam Bennett shot which Vasilevskiy struggled to find between his skates.

The puck was cleared away just before Patric Hornqvist could slide in and tap it in.

Tampa Bay also had a number of good scoring chances but Bobrovsky was absolutely on fire — especially in the third.

After stopping Nikita Kucherov’s blast on the power play, he made a spectacular glove save on a one-timer from Ondrej Palat from the right circle to keep things tied with 4:02 left.

Florida got another late power play — went with five forwards — but did not get the goal.

As the game sped toward overtime, Kucherov tracked down a puck along the back wall with Gus Forsling chasing.

Kucherov sent a no-look pass past MacKenzie Weegar right to Colton who pounded it past Bobrovsky for the shocking end to the game.

The Lightning, which led Florida 2-0 last year, will try to finish out the Panthers at home this playoff season with back-to-back games Sunday and Monday.

GR’S THREE STARS OF GAME 2

1. Ross Colton, Tampa Bay

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay

3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida

NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS 

PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING (TB leads 2-0)

  • Game 3: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa 
  • TV/Streaming: TNT
  • Postgame: Bally Sports Florida
  • Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM 
  • Tickets: CLICK HERE

PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING

  • Regular season series — Tied 2-2: Florida 4, @Lightning 1 (Oct. 19); @Lightning 3, Florida 2 OT (Nov. 13); @Florida 9, Lightning 3 (Dec 30); Tampa Bay 8, @Florida 4 (April 24).
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 73-49-18, 10 ties
  • Playoff history: Second meeting; Tampa Bay d. Florida 4-2 in R1, 2021
  • Round 1: Florida d. Washington 4-2; Tampa Bay d. Toronto 4-3
  • Full schedule — Game 1: Tampa Bay 4, @Florida 1; Game 2: Tampa Bay 2, @Florida 1; Game 3: Florida at Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1:30 (TNT); Game 4: Florida at Tampa Bay, Monday, 7 (TNT); Game 5*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Wednesday, May 25 (Time, TV TBA); Game 6*: Florida at Tampa Bay Lightning, Friday, May 27 (Time, TV TBA); Game 7*: Tampa Bay at Florida, Sunday, May 29 (Time, TV TBA). (*) — If necessary. 
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