Lightning emphatically dispose of classless, dirty, trash team to take commanding lead in series.
Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals on 41 shots for the victory. It’ll be overshadowed by the Third Period scum baggery of the Panthers, but Vasilevskiy was the biggest difference-maker in today’s game in a rebound from allowing two howlers in the Game Three loss.
3:00 TB Cirelli (2), (Killorn, Cernak)
7:24 TB Gourde (2), (Kucherov, Sergachev)
8:49 FLA Huberdeau (2), (Hornqvist, Bennett)(PP)
16:45 TB Palat (2), (Cernak, Kucherov)
5:41 TB Killorn (2), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)
7:15 TB Killorn (3), (Stamkos, Cirelli)
18:45 FLA Verheaghe (2), (Barkov, Huberdeau)(PP)
4:47 TB Kucherov (3), (Stamkos, Killorn)(PP)
Nikita Kucherov, Vasilevskiy, and Alex Killorn were the game’s three stars.
The Lightning continued to play their series-long strategy to a tee today and this time got the goaltending to go along with it to put the Panthers on the brink of elimination. In all honesty, this series should be over in a sweep, but as it is there’s still one more victory for the Lightning to collect. It’s been an annoying, inartistic slog that defies advanced stat analysis because of the bizarre style that the Panthers play: a mish mash of all the most annoying tactics in the hockey coaching text book. The team traps in the neutral zone and is aggressive in blocking point shots, immediately looking to spring counters to cherry picking forwards flying their defensive zone in quick change situations. It’s not unlike fighting a southpaw in boxing or playing a triple option team in college football. To combat it, the Lightning have been forced to resist the instincts of their usual system as a volume-shooting, possession-heavy team and play a more patient and methodical style that exposes the Panthers’ own poor defensive coverage. They did so again today and were rightfully staked to a huge Third Period advantage even as the Panthers were lauded over for their mostly empty calorie shot totals.
What followed in garbage time of the game was nothing short of an embarrassment for the National Hockey League and a reminder that no matter the prior resume of their coach or who their current players are, the Florida Panthers will always be a classless, dirty, piece of trash organization. And, the NHL should be disciplining their referees from today’s game for allowing the Panthers to get away with it. Unable to win a hockey game, the Panthers decided to spend the final frame trying to injure some of the Lightning’s best players with spot-picking cheap shots. Hornqvist with a slash to the back of Erik Cernak’s legs and later boarding Mikhail Sergachev in what may have resulted in a shoulder injury for the Russian defenseman. Anthony Duclair with a slash to the back of Nikita Kucherov’s knee that led to Kucherov missing the rest of the game. And the refs not only allowed the game to get out of hand, but they prior spent the Second Period giving six largely unearned power plays to the Panthers in a Tim Peel-esque miscarriage of justice. Their dirty thumbs were all over the scales in this game until it got out of hand on the scoreboard, and then they looked the other way when it got out of hand with the Panthers’ dirty play.
Ross Colton was +1 with 12 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 14:36. He’s been good in this series and picking the Charminy soft Markus Nutivaara as his dance partner the closing Third Period scrum? Executive thinking. I’m fairly certain, even though Colton’s a NCAA guy, if Nutivaara had answered that bell, Ross would’ve bent his teeth in about sixteen different directions.