Lightning defeats Panthers 2-1 in Game 2 to lead series 2-0
May 20, 2022
Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds left, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday night. The winner of the Stanley Cup for two consecutive years now has a 2-0 lead over Florida in their best-of-seven series.
The game looked like it was going to go into overtime, but Colton scored right in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on a backhand pass from Nikita Kucherov, who had been looking for a loose puck behind the Florida net.
“I was kind of trying to sit back and let the plays come to us. But when you’re on the ice with (Kucherov), you have to be ready for anything. Once I saw the puck behind the net, I just went to the front of the net,” Colton said.
The goal came after the Lightning stopped Florida's power play for eight minutes. As soon as Colton scored, the FLA Live Arena quickly cleared out, leaving only the Bolts fans to chant "Let's go, Lightning".
The Panthers took the lead in the middle of the second period, and Eetu Luostarinen's goal with 1:53 left in the period sealed the deal. From the top of the left circle, Luostarinen shot a rising wrist shot that went over Andrei Vasilevskiy's right shoulder.
Corey Perry, who has done a great job filling in for Brayden Point on the first power-play unit since Point got hurt, scored the first goal 7:54 into the first period. It was his third power-play goal of the playoffs.
Perry scored power-play goals in both of the first two games of this series. He definitely took Point's spot in front of the net.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Sergachev missed the last eight minutes of the first period after getting hit in the face with a puck. Erik Cernak took a hit to the chin and kept skating even though his white sweater collar was stained with blood.
Radko Gudas, a Florida defenseman, also hit Cernak into the boards near the Lightning bench, but Cernak stayed on the ice.
“We’re two games closer to where we want to be, but we’re not there yet,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I told you this in the last series, and I’m going to tell you again: Tonight was just one game. We’re here to win a series.”
“Obviously, it’s really hard. It’s not easy. This is a roller-coaster ride that were are on,” Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunette said. “The sun will come up, and we will wake up, and we need to keep playing like we’re playing.”
Florida, which had the best record in the NHL during the regular season, needs to win four of the last five games in the series to move on to the Eastern Conference final.
“Obviously everyone is disappointed,” Bobrovsky said. “It was quiet, but all the guys are pros. They understand that the next game is big. We can make a difference in the future, not in the past. That’s it. We have to stay together and keep working.
“This is a good challenge for us. The whole year we have been fighting. We have found a way to come back in games, from adversities. This is another test for us. We’re just going to reset and regroup for the next one.”
On the other hand, the Lightning has been playing like a team that wants to win three straight Stanley Cups, which has not happened since the New York Islanders won four in a row in the early 1980s.