Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Ross Colton celebrates scoring against the Florida Panthers in the closing seconds of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Lightning return to Amalie Arena up 2-0 over the Panthers

The Florida Panthers face an uphill battle against the Lightning Sunday as the team travels to Amalie Arena hoping to crawl out of a 2-0 series hole.

Eetu Luostarinen scored the Panthers’ lone goal Thursday, tying game two at one. The team registered more shots, hits, takeaways and faceoff wins than Tampa Bay, but it was not enough. Lightning forward Ross Colton buried a slick feed from Nikita Kucherov with 3.9 seconds remaining to give the game its 2-1 final score.

https://twitter.com/TBLightning/status/1527464502559756300

The Bolts will return to Tampa with a 2-0 lead in the series and home-ice advantage. The Cats, who won the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the league’s best record, are in deep trouble.

Back-to-Back

To win the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 1996, the Panthers may need a few miracles on ice. The teams will play game two Sunday and game three Monday, giving the Lightning and Panthers the only back-to-back games in any first or second-round series. This means the Panthers would need to defeat the Lightning at least twice in Tampa in addition to surviving games on consecutive days.

The series has been physical as well. The teams had 60 combined hits in game one and 87 in game two.

To Back?

Lightning forward Brayden Point, who has scored the team’s fourth most goals since the start of the New Year, has missed the team’s last three games. Despite Point’s noticeable absence, 2020 Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy has been outstanding. The Russian has given up just three goals in his last three games, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced Thursday.

A series win would put the Lightning in the Stanley Cup semifinal for the sixth time since 2015. The team has also not lost consecutive playoff games since 2020.

The two teams met in the first round of last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning took a 2-0 series lead before winning in six games. The Bolts look to become the first team to three-peat since the Islanders called their home Fort Neverlose en route to 4 consecutive titles from 1980-1983.

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