SUNRISE, Fla. — The Lightning won two straight Stanley Cups playing like there’s no tomorrow.
And after an even-tempered Game 1 of their second-round series against the cross-state rival Panthers, things intensified Thursday night Gat FLA Live Arena.
The Lightning were certainly wounded by hard hits and harder pucks, wearing out the walkway before their bench and the locker room.
Throughout a rink of lunging bodies, the Lightning escaped South Florida with an electrifying 2-1 win over the Panthers on Ross Colton’s game-winning goal with 3.8 seconds remaining, giving the Lightning a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena.
Colton’s goal was set up by a marvelous no-look pass behind the net from Nikita Kucherov, who flung a backhanded feed as two Florida players converged on him to a wide-open Colton, who was charging the net.
The score came after the Lightning killed eight minutes of Florida power-play time. The Panthers are 0 for 24 on the power play this postseason.
As soon as Colton scored, FLA Live Arena emptied quickly, leaving only the chants of “Let’s go, Lightning” behind from the Bolts fans remaining.
The Panthers stole momentum midway through the second period, and capitalized with Eetu Luostarinen’s goal with 1:53 remaining in the period.
Luostarinen shot a rising wrister from the top of the left circle that rode up Andrei Vasilevskiy’s right shoulder and past him.
Corey Perry, who has filled in admirably for the injured Brayden Point on the first power-play unit, opened scoring 7:54 into the first period with his third power-play goal of the postseason.
Taking over Point’s bumper position in front of the net, Perry has scored power-play goals in each of this series’ first two games.
It started from the first minute, when Perry absorbed a hit from Patric Hornqvist at center ice, stood up and laughed at him.
Mikhail Sergachev missed the final eight minutes of the first after taking a puck to the face, Erik Cernak took a beating and kept skating, his white sweater collar blood-stained from taking a blocked shot to the chin.
Cernak also took a hit from Florida defenseman Radko Gudas into the boards at the edge of the Lightning bench and remained on the ice.©2022 Tampa Bay Times. Visit tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.