Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes during Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Lightning ready for next challenge

The stage is almost set for round three of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now, the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning are one step closer to playing for another title.

Tampa Bay’s keys in series-clinching victory

Lightning continue to play like champions

The Tampa Bay Lightning are now 8-3 overall in the 2021 postseason after defeating the two teams that finished above them in the Central Division.

They bested the second-place Florida Panthers in Round One in six games. After that, the Lightning eliminated the Central Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes with a 2-0 win Tuesday, thus winning their second-round series 4-1.

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The Bolts had an early series lead over the Canes taking Games 1 and 2 with much thanks to Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The victorious Vasilevskiy

The goaltender was at his best in turning away shots in Tuesday night’s contest. He finished with 29 saves to post his third straight shutout.

Vasilevskiy has been especially stingy in postseason play as he stopped 68 of 70 shots through the first two games of their series with Carolina. Following his 29-save shutout Tuesday, he has allowed just two goals in 99 shots in three road games during the series.

Lightning utilizing their depth

The Lightning’s offense is looking just as sharp. Forward Nikita Kucherov is leading the league with 18 points and 13 power play points in just 11 games this postseason. Captain Steven Stamkos is not far behind Kucherov, having earned 13 playoff points.

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Aside from the captain, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn has also given Tampa Bay an edge in offensive battles. This postseason, Point has tacked up 12 points, 8 goals and given 4 assists. Killorn has also earned 12 points, as well as posting 6 goals and 6 assists.

On to the next one

Tampa Bay will be awaiting the winner of the Boston Bruins-New York Islanders series to play in Round 3.

They could know as soon as Wednesday night who they will be facing in the NHL semifinals.

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