Apr 23, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) celebrates with defenseman Brandon Montour (62) after an overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Lightning

They say lightning never strikes twice, but so far it hasn’t struck once. The Florida Panthers lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The winner of the best-of-seven series will continue on to round two of the playoffs and face the winner of the Boston and Toronto series.

Bad luck for Florida hockey

The Lightning lost 3-2 for the second consecutive game on Tuesday. However, Tampa Bay was able to force game two into overtime, before dropping its sixth consecutive overtime playoff game. In 2023, Tampa Bay was bounced in round one to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2.

Tampa Bay’s leading scorer during the regular season, Nikita Kucherov, is yet to score against the Panthers in this series. He has two assists in the series.

Panther’s center Carter Verheaghe netted the overtime winner just under three minutes into the extra period to give Florida it’s second win. Verheaghe was on the Lightning until 2019, when the team traded him to the Panthers.

Florida forward Sam Bennett scored the first goal and assisted the second. However, left the ice in the second period with an upper body injury.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said, “we’re excited about coming home and, you know, playing in front of our fans.

Goalie vs Goalie

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has posted a save percentage of .904 in the two playoff games after facing 42 shots attempts. On the other side, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has a save percentage of .922 after facing 64 shot attempts.

Both goalies combined for some impressive, game-saving stops in net on Tuesday. However, nothing topped Bobrovsky’s behind-the-back save towards the end of the second period to keep the game tied.

Florida is on the hunt for its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Panthers made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2023, but fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

Game three of the series will be held in Tampa on Thursday night. The puck is set to drop at 7 PM ET.

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