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2022 NHL Playoffs: Lightning jump to 2-0 series lead over Panthers with dagger goal in waning moments

USATSI

The NHL’s Eastern and Western Conference No. 1 seeds are back in action Thursday for the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But while the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche have that in common, the stakes for each of their Game 2s couldn’t be more different. 

Florida entered Thursday’s Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in must-win mode after dropping Game 1 by a score of 4-1 on Tuesday. Tuesday’s game was locked at 1-1 after the second period, but the Lightning struck with three goals in the final frame to take the air out of FLA Live Arena. 

Colorado handled business on Tuesday, beating the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime. Defenseman Josh Manson scored the game-winning goal at 8:02 of overtime, and it was quite the memorable one considering it was also his first ever playoff goal. Both teams’ goalies have been outstanding this postseason, as Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper entered Thursday’s game ranking second in goals against average (1.67), while the Blues’ Jordan Binnington is fourth in goals against average (1.94) and third in save percentage (.944)

Game 2: Lightning 2, Florida 1

With the game tied 1-1 in the final minute of the third period, it seemed overtime was inevitable — until Ross Colton delivered Panthers fans one of their worst memories yet. The 25-year-old center got the puck past Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with less than four seconds remaining to give the Lightning a 2-0 series lead. Nikita Kucherov made a remarkable no-look pass to set up the goal, which is here in all its glory: 

While a last-second loss is always heart-breaking, Florida suffered this one despite having a 37-27 advantage in shots on goal. Bobrovsky and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy were both impressive, posting save percentages of .926 and .973, respectively. 

Tampa Bay’s Cory Perry recorded the game’s first goal at 12:06 of the first period, and Florida scored an equalizer at 18:07 of the second courtesy of Eetu Luostarinen

It was a quiet game for Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe, who recorded zero points despite coming into the contest tied for second in in these playoffs with 12. This was Verhaeghe’s second consecutive game without a point. The Panthers are now 0-4 this postseason when Verhaeghe scores fewer than two points; they’re 4-0 when he records at least two.  

Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos left for the locker room and returned to the game three times, showing the grittiness that made him a team captain. He’ll now enjoy an extended rest before Game 3, as that is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET in Tampa. 




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