Veteran Lightning put upstart Panthers’ backs against the wall.
Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed one goal on 33 shots for the victory. He was stronger in Game Two than in the series opener and made a few very timely saves, but I thought the team helped him with a pretty saavy defensive effort too.
4:52 TB Stamkos (1), (Killorn, Savard)
14:57 TB Palat (1), (Point, Kucherov)
14:21 FLA Marchment (1), (Verhaeghe, Barkov)
18:35 TB Gourde (1), (Palat)(EN)
Vasilevskiy and Ondrej Palat were the game’s first and second stars.
This was just a clever, crafty effort by a Lightning team that’s really figured out how to win in the playoffs. The Lightning opened up a strong 2-0 lead in the First Period tonight with a pretty classic rope-a-dope strategy where they absorbed Florida’s big emotional push in the opening frame and then capitalized on several counter opportunities. It wasn’t a Rembrandt and it required a lot of scramble defending, but they managed to protect the slot and the net front area and then let their high skill level take over when the transition was sprung. And then, knowing that giving Florida that much puck possession wasn’t sustainable and that Florida had to come to them now, they started to play a very safe game getting it deeper into the Florida zone and making safe plays. The Barkov line remained dangerous throughout the evening as in Game One, but the number and quality of shots that Florida got were very limited. And then, in the Third Period, I think you saw a good 16-17 minutes of clinical defensive hockey by a team sitting on a one goal lead mixed with some outstanding penalty killing after a couple of… ahem… dubious (SOFT!) “tripping” calls by the refs. Florida had 1-2 good chances at the tying goal toward the end, but the Lightning blocked some shots and got a timely save by Vasilevskiy and eventually got the empty net goal to seal it. Was it a sexy win? Not at all. Did they just poach two road wins with a chance to strangle the life out of Florida when the scene shifts home to Channelside? Absolutely. Absolutely brilliant tonight.
Ross Colton had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:43.