Advertisement

Lightning playoff extra: Vintage Stamkos, and a goaltender clinic

A collection of stars, stats and sound bites from the Panthers’ 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night against the Lightning in Game 2.

3 Panthers stars

Carter Verhaeghe

Two days after scoring the go-ahead goal in Game 1, the former Lightning forward snuck a backhander beneath the crossbar three minutes into overtime for the game-winner. Verhaeghe also assisted on Sam Bennett’s goal to open the scoring and had a game-high six shots.

Sergei Bobrovsky

The Panthers goaltender (21 saves on 23 shots) warrants a star solely for his second-period stop that instantly qualifies for save of the year. Sprawled out on the right side of the net, Bobrovsky got up and — with his back to Lightning defenseman Matt Dumba — lunged left and blocked a Dumba backhanded shot with his outstretched left arm.

Gustav Forsling

Despite periodically hobbling off the ice, the Panthers defenseman mostly shined Tuesday, especially on the power play. Forsling finished with six hits, two blocked shots and two takeaways.

3 Lightning stars

Steven Stamkos

The captain scored on a second-period power play, giving him points in 10 of 12 career playoff contests against Florida. He also won 10 of 15 faceoffs and delivered two of the most scorching shots of the night (more on that later).

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Though upstaged by Bobrovsky’s ESPY-worthy save, Vasilevskiy produced an assortment of sparkling stops, especially in the final two periods of regulation, and on a point-blank stop of Sam Reinhart in overtime. Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 37 shots, including all 21 he faced in the final two periods of regulation.

Brayden Point

Point deflected an Anthony Duclair shot into the net 48 seconds into the second period to put the Lightning on the board. He also had four hits and a blocked shot in 19:51 of ice time.

Liner notes

After periodically succumbing to Florida’s aggressive forechecking in Game 1, the Lightning employed seven defensemen Tuesday, with Syracuse callup Max Crozier logging more than 14 minutes. Nick Perbix was among the scratches.

“Did we get the desired outcome (with 11 forwards and seven defensemen)? We didn’t,” coach Jon Cooper said. “You look at your lineup, and every game you’re trying to put the best team forward to have success that night to win the hockey game. That’s why teams carry 25 guys.”

By the numbers

3: Shots on goal by the Lightning in the first period

5: Shots on goal by the Lightning in the first seven minutes of the second period

6: Consecutive overtime playoff losses by the Lightning. Their last postseason OT triumph: 4-3 vs. the Leafs in Game 6 of the 2022 first round

7.8: Florida’s success percentage on the power play (4 of 51) in the final 16 games of the regular season

28.6: The Panthers’ success rate on the power play (2 of 7) in the first two playoff games

11: Consecutive overtime wins for the Panthers

Sounds of Stammer

Sandwiching Stamkos’ second-period power-play goal were two other blasts heard ‘round the rink.

On the Lightning’s initial power play in the first period, Stamkos’ trademark one-timer from the left circle made a resounding ping as it ricocheted off the far post. The shot was so forceful, the puck sailed out of the Panthers zone.

His next one-timer, on Tampa Bay’s second power play, found the net and tied the score at 2. His shot on an ensuing second-period power play slammed off the side of Bobrovsky’s mask, dislodging a strap and forcing a brief stoppage in play.

They said it

“I think that can definitely boost a team. For the most part, I liked our second (period), but when you see your guy make a save like that, I’m sure it gives them a boost.” — Point on Bobrovsky’s viral second-period save

“Call it skill, call it luck, call it whatever you want. I mean, he’s an athletic goalie and he makes a desperation move and hell of a save. But I thought (Vasilevskiy) made some great saves, too.” — Stamkos on the Bobrovsky save

“I’ve watched this team the last month and a half do things that I don’t think people thought we could. Now we’re here, and we have to do that same thing in the series.” — Cooper, whose team needed a late-season surge to earn an Eastern Conference wild-card spot, on his team’s 0-2 series deficit

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.