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Goal with 3.8 left has Tampa up 2-0

by The Associated Press | May 20, 2022 at 1:58 a.m.
Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (right) blocks a shot by Florida center Sam Reinhart (13) as defenseman Mikhail Sergachev watches during the third period of the Lightning’s 2-1 victory over the Panthers in Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference second-round series in Sunrise, Fla. Vasilevskiy finished with 34 saves. (AP/Reinhold Matay)

SUNRISE, Fla. -- In four games over a pressure-filled week, the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone from the brink of playoff elimination to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds remaining, giving the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series on Thursday night.

The Lightning have won four in a row since falling behind Toronto 3-2 in the first round and will look to take a commanding series lead over the Presidents Trophy-winning Panthers when the matchup moves across the state to Tampa for Game 3 on Sunday.

Colton said he was just trying not to get scored on in the final minute. He wound up being the hero when Nikita Kucherov retrieved a loose puck behind the Florida net and flicked a perfect no-look, backhand pass that Colton lifted over Sergei Bobrovsky's right shoulder to win it.

"I was kind of trying to sit back and let the plays come to us. But when you're on the ice with (Kucherov), you have to be ready for anything. Once I saw the puck behind the net, I just went to the front of the net," Colton said.

"He's got eyes in the back of his head, as you can see, because I didn't even know he knew I was there. He gift-wrapped it for me," Colton continued. "Luckily it just squeaked under the bar there, but unbelievable play by him."

Florida, which had the NHL's best record during the regular season, now has to win four of the final five games in the series to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

The Lightning, meanwhile, are playing like a team determined to become the first to win three consecutive Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders captured four in a row in the early 1980s.

"We're two games closer to where we want to be, but we're not there yet," Lightning Coach Jon Cooper said. "I told you this in the last series, and I'm going to tell you again: Tonight was just one game. We're here to win a series."

Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunette expects the Panthers to bounce back when the series resumes in Tampa.

"Obviously, it's really hard. It's not easy. This is a roller-coaster ride that were are on," Brunette said. "The sun will come up, and we will wake up, and we need to keep playing like we're playing."

Tampa Bay's power play once again was a catalyst, producing Corey Perry's first-period goal after delivering three goals in the Lightning's 4-1 victory in Game 1.

Florida's power play, meanwhile, continued to sputter.

The Panthers scored the third-most power-play goals during the regular season, but entered the second game of the series 0 for 21 in man-advantage situations through seven postseason games.

They were 0 for 4 Thursday night, with the team's lone goal coming on a 30-foot shot from Eetu Luostarinen that trickled past Andrei Vasilevskiy with 1:53 remaining in the second period.

"They are squeezing it," Brunnette said of Florida's power play. "It's really unbelievable. I liked the urgency, thought we had some looks. I thought it was better. There was a great opportunity to capitalize."

Bobrovsky said the Panthers have to try and forget this loss and come back ready to fight on Sunday.

"Obviously everyone is disappointed," Bobrovsky said. "It was quiet, but all the guys are pros. They understand that the next game is big. We can make a difference in the future, not in the past. That's it. We have to stay together and keep working.

"This is a good challenge for us. The whole year we have been fighting. We have found a way to come back in games, from adversities. This is another test for us. We're just going to reset and regroup for the next one."

Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 35 shots for Tampa Bay. Bobrovsky finished with 25 saves.

BLUES 4, AVALANCHE 1

DENVER -- David Perron scored twice as St. Louis switched up its line combinations, Jordan Binnington made 30 saves and the Blues beat Colorado to tie their second-round series at a game apiece.

Jordan Kyrou added a goal and Brandon Saad sealed it with an empty-netter for the Blues as they rode another stellar performance from Binnington. The Blues goaltender stopped 51 shots during a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1.

Binnington's flashing his 2019 form, when as a rookie he led the Blues to a Stanley Cup title with a 16-10 mark and a 2.46 goals-against average.

Gabriel Landeskog scored on a power play early in the third for Colorado to make it 2-1. But Perron answered right back with his seventh goal of these playoffs.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Two of the goals he allowed were redirected off the stick of a defenseman.

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche found open ice a scarce commodity against a physical, hard-checking and more determined Blues squad.

Game 3 is Saturday in St. Louis.


At a glance

NHL PLAYOFFS

SECOND ROUND (BEST-OF-7)

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Tampa Bay 2, Florida 1

Tampa Bay leads series 2-0

St. Louis 4, Colorado 1

Series tied 1-1

TODAY’S GAMES

All times Central

NY Rangers at Carolina, 7 p.m.

Carolina leads series 1-0

Edmonton at Calgary, 9:30 p.m.

Calgary leads series 1-0


  photo  Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) takes down Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau as Lightning' Alex Killorn (17) and Nicholas Paul (20) watch during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11), defenseman Gustav Forsling (42), center Eetu Luostarinen (27) and right wing Claude Giroux (28) celebrate a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) defends against Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91), right wing Corey Perry (10) and left wing Ondrej Palat (18) celebrate a goal against the Florida Panthers during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Florida Panthers defenseman Ben Chiarot (8) and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) vie for the puck during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) chase the puck during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Florida Panthers center Noel Acciari, right, knocks Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Nicholas Paul (20) off the puck during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 
  photo  Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pat Maroon, left, and Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas scuffle during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
 
 

Print Headline: Goal with 3.8 left has Tampa up 2-0

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