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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins storm Lightning for, 5-2, win on the road

David Pastrnak scored a pair of quick goals before Brad Marchand added a pair of his own later in a, 5-2, win for the Boston Bruins against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday night.

Linus Ullmark (10-5-0, 2.54 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 27 out of 29 shots faced for a .931 save percentage in the win for Boston.

Tampa netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy (19-6-3, 2.23 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 28 games played), made 25 saves on 29 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 18-11-2 (38 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place of the Atlantic Division (nine points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for 3rd place).

Meanwhile, the Lightning fell to 23-9-5 (51 points) and slipped to 2nd place in the Atlantic by virtue of a tiebreaker, having sustained fewer regulation wins (15) than the Florida Panthers (17).

The B’s also improved to 1-0-1 against the Bolts this season with two games remaining in their regular season series (March 24th @ TD Garden and April 8th at Amalie Arena).

Bruce Cassidy told reporters prior to the game that Charlie McAvoy (lower body) would be a game-time decision and the NESN broadcast learned during warmup that if McAvoy wasn’t good enough to suit up, then Urho Vaakanainen would be making his season debut alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the first pairing.

And that’s exactly what happened as McAvoy missed his third game this season due to injury or illness, joining Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID-19 protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID-19 protocol) and Tomáš Nosek (COVID-19 protocol) on the list of players out of the lineup for Boston.

Cassidy made no changes to among his forwards from Thursday night’s, 3-2, loss against the Minnesota Wild.

John Moore joined Steven Fogarty and Troy Grosenick on Boston’s taxi squad on Saturday with goaltender, Tuukka Rask, expected to join the team on an NHL contract next week.

Taylor Hall setup Pastrnak (10) with a breakout pass about a minute into the action as No. 88 in black and gold entered the attacking zone from the middle of the ice and flung a shot on net that beat Vasilevskiy on the far blocker side.

Hall (12) and Derek Forbort (3) tallied the assists as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 1:11 of the first period.

About 90 seconds later, Curtis Lazar tripped up Mathieu Joseph in the neutral zone and cut a rut to the box– yielding the night’s first power play to the Lightning at 2:45, but Boston’s penalty kill stood tall.

Moments later, Hall sent a shot on goal that rebounded off of Vasilevskiy’s pads as Pastrnak (11) crashed the net– kicking the rubber biscuit to his blade before burying the puck low, glove side, as Vasilevskiy was caught looking in the other direction.

The Bruins led, 2-0, as Hall (13) and Erik Haula (7) picked up the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game at 6:10 of the first period.

Midway through the opening frame, Nick Foligno was taken down in front of Tampa’s net and was helped off the ice, clutching his right leg.

The Bruins later tweeted that he wouldn’t return for the rest of the night with a lower body injury and Cassidy ruled him out of the lineup for Monday night against the Capitals in Washington, D.C. while speaking to reporters after Saturday night’s win.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 13-7, in shots on goal.

The Bolts held the advantage in giveaways (1-0), while Boston led in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42). Both teams managed to amass 11 hits each.

The Lightning were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission, while the Bruins had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.

Boston got off to a fast start in the middle frame as Patrice Bergeron worked the puck to Mike Reilly as the team worked their way around the attacking zone before Reilly sent a shot attempt towards the slot for Marchand (13) to redirect with a backhand deflection past Vasilevskiy– extending Boston’s lead to three goals.

Reilly (5) and Bergeron (15) notched the assists as Marchand’s goal gave the Bruins a, 3-0, lead 26 seconds into the second period.

Midway through the period, Marchand hooked Erik Cernak and cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:39.

Tampa went on a 5-on-3 advantage for 47 seconds when Bergeron caught Victor Hedman with a high stick at 9:53 of the second period.

The Bruins killed off both minor infractions, however.

Late in the period, Oskar Steen forced a turnover in the attacking zone and worked a quick pass to Anton Blidh (2) for a catch and release goal on the short side past Vasilevskiy’s blocker.

Steen (4) had the only assist on Blidh’s goal at 14:54 and Boston led, 4-0, heading into the second intermission.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 4-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 20-19– though Boston held a, 12-7, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Bruins dominated in blocked shots (8-1) and takeaways (6-3), while the Lightning led in giveaways (2-0), hits (21-20) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Boston had yet to see any time on the skater advantage, while Tampa was 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tampa emerged fresh from the dressing room to kickstart the third period with a goal 24 seconds into the final frame– disrupting Ullmark’s bid for a shutout in the process.

Mikhail Sergachev dumped the puck into the corner on a hard intentional rebound for Cernak to one-touch pass off the carom over to Ondrej Palat (14) for a one-timer goal on a half empty net.

Cernak (4) and Sergachev (14) nabbed the assists on Palat’s goal and the Lightning trailed, 4-1, 24 seconds into the third period.

A couple minutes later, Vasilevskiy tripped Trent Frederic and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 2:28 of the third period.

Boris Katchouk, meanwhile, served Vasilevskiy’s minor infraction while the Bolts killed off the penalty.

Midway through the third period, Brayden Point (13) received a pass from Cernak, stopped and measured up, then wired the puck past Ullmark inside the post to cut Boston’s lead to two goals.

Cernak (5) and Sergachev (15) tallied the assists and the Lightning trailed, 4-2, at 11:20 of the third period– making things exciting for Tampa fans for an inevitable comeback, right?

Except the comeback never came. Not Saturday night, anyway.

Roughly 90 seconds after Point brought more momentum in favor of the Bolts, Anthony Cirelli tripped Bergeron and cut a rut to the box at 12:57– yielding a power play to the Bruins for the second time of the night.

Boston’s skater advantage was cut short, however, as Charlie Coyle hooked Joseph at 14:54 and brought the Lightning forward to the ice.

After four seconds of 4-on-4 action, Tampa went on an abbreviated power play, but the Bruins’ penalty kill handled the surge in momentum well and killed off Coyle’s infraction.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (14) pocketed his second goal of the game from downtown near the blue line and Vaakanainen (1) picked up an assist in his first game of the season.

The Bruins led, 5-2, at 17:11 of the third period and Cooper didn’t pull his goaltender for the rest of the night as the seconds ticked down and the final horn sounded decisively in favor of Boston.

The B’s had won, 5-2, and finished the game leading in shots on goal, 30-29, after managing to amass an, 11-9, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins left Amalie Arena with two points in the standings, as well as the lead in blocked shots (9-7) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Bolts left their home ice leading in giveaways (2-0) and hits (31-26).

Tampa finished the night 0/4 on the power play while Boston went 0/2.

The B’s improved to 12-5-0 (7-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 13-0-0 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 13-1-0 (9-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Lightning fell to 9-8-1 (5-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-5-1 (2-1-1 at home) when trailing after one and 3-7-1 (0-3-1 at home) when losing through two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins visit the Washington Capitals next Monday (Jan. 10th) before returning home to host the Montréal Canadiens next Wednesday to kickoff a seven-game homestand in which Boston will host the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks.

The B’s were originally scheduled to play at Bell Centre on Jan. 12th, but due to the rise of the Omicron variant and capacity limits across Canada, that game has been postponed and instead Boston’s meeting with the Habs originally scheduled for March 21st has been moved up.

Tickets for March 21st in Boston will be honored on Jan. 12th against Montréal.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions in Game 5 shutout

Ross Colton’s goal was more than enough to seal the deal on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third Stanley Cup championship in franchise history Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves in a, 1-0, shutout victory on home ice over the Montréal Canadiens as he became the first goaltender since legendary Canadiens goaltender, Ken Dryden, to play in every playoff game en route to winning back-to-back Stanley Cup rings.

It was also the 5th shutout (6th of his postseason career) for Vasilevskiy this postseason as the Lightning goaltender became the first in league history to win all four series clinching games in a shutout.

He’s also won his last five consecutive playoff series’ in shutout fashion as Tampa shutout the Dallas Stars, 2-0, in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final before going on their 2021 run by shutting out the Florida Panthers, 4-0, in Game 6 of Tampa’s 2021 First Round matchup, eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, in Game 5 in the 2021 Second Round and beating the New York Islanders and Canadiens, 1-0, in Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals and Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, respectively.

Colton was also the fourth rookie to score a Stanley Cup clinching goal since 1927, in Wednesday night’s effort.

The Bolts are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, having won the Cup in 2020 and 2021, as the first repeat champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins did so in 2016 and 2017.

Tampa also did so in a span of about 10 months, since the ongoing global pandemic altered the National Hockey League’s postseason calendar for 2020, and shortened the 2020-21 league calendar to 56 games in the regular season, followed by a postseason that began in May and ended in the first week of July.

Last year, the Lightning raised the Cup as the designated road team at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta at a neutral site as the NHL played through the COVID-19 pandemic in a bubble in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This year, for the first time in 17 years, the Bolts raised the Cup in front of their home fans as 2004 Stanley Cup champion with Tampa, Dave Andreychuk, watched along in attendance to cap the 2020-21 Lightning’s run.

In 2004, NHL on ESPN and NHL on ABC coverage had come to an end with the conclusion of Tampa’s Game 7 victory over the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 2004-05 season-long lockout that ultimately canceled all NHL action for the year meant that ESPN could punt their broadcasting rights to the 2005-06 season or opt out altogether.

They chose the latter.

That’s when NBC stepped in and the NHL had games on Outdoor Life Network, then Versus, NBC Sports Network (which shortly rebranded as NBCSN), as well as on NBC.

In 2021, NHL on NBC signed off for the final time as the league shifts its focus back to ESPN/Disney and Turner Sports for the next seven seasons in the United States starting with the 2021-22 season (the 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft and first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be on ESPN2 this month, if you’re wondering).

Back at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, Vasilevskiy (16-7, 1.90 goals-against average, .937 save percentage in 23 games played) made 22 saves on 22 shots against en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

Montréal goaltender, Carey Price (13-9, 2.28 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in 22 games) stopped 29 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, improved to 9-0 all time in a series when leading 2-0, while the Bolts became the first team to raise the Cup on home ice since Chicago did so in 2015.

Pat Maroon, meanwhile, also became the first player (and fourth overall) since Ed Litzenberger to win three consecutive Cups with two different teams as Litzenberger won with Chicago in 1961, as well as Toronto from 1962-64.

Neither Habs head coach, Dominique Ducharme, nor Cooper, made a change to their lineups for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Alex Killorn remained out of the lineup for the Lightning for fourth game in-a-row after blocking a shot in Game 1. He told reporters after the game that he suffered a broken left fibula in Game 1 and wanted to suit up again if he could play.

Corey Perry kicked things off in Game 5 with a hooking infraction as Perry impeded Mathieu Joseph’s play and presented the Lightning with the game’s first power play at 3:21 of the first period.

Tampa couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, the Canadiens got their first chance on the power play as Jan Rutta cross checked Artturi Lehkonen at 7:19.

Montréal’s time on the advantage was unchanged as Erik Cernak earned an interference minor and Perry was assessed an embellishment infraction almost a minute after Rutta cut a rut to the penalty box at 8:15.

About 30 seconds after Cernak and Perry went to the sin bin, though, Josh Anderson hooked Blake Coleman and joined his teammates in Montréal’s box at 8:43 of the opening frame.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for 37 seconds before Tampa had an abbreviated power play thereafter.

Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Bolts were outshooting the Habs, 11-2, with 9:53 remaining in the opening period– reminiscent of how the Lightning outshot the Canadiens, 11-1, through the first half of the first period in Game 4.

Entering the first intermission, the score was still tied, 0-0, despite Tampa outshooting Montréal, 13-4.

The Bolts also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-0), takeaways (2-1) and hits (25-16), while the Habs led in faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period.

Both teams had three giveaways each while the Canadiens were 0/1 and the Lightning were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

David Savard sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play and received an automatic minor 21 seconds into the second period, but the Habs couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

Almost midway through the second frame, Mikhail Sergachev tripped up Nick Suzuki and presented the Canadiens with another power play that went by the wayside at 8:32.

Moments later in Tampa’s attacking zone, Ryan McDonagh made a lateral pass along the blue line to Savard, who promptly crashed the slot and slid a shot pass towards the crease for Colton (4) to redirect into the twine.

Savard (5) and McDonagh (8) had the assists on Colton’s goal as the Lightning took a, 1-0, lead at 13:27 of the second period.

Keeping in the trend with the rest of the series– the team that scored first in each game won the game.

Late in the period, Ben Chiarot yanked Brayden Point down on a breakaway, yielding a power play to the Bolts as a result as Chiarot was assessed with a holding infraction at 19:22.

Though the ensuing skater advantage spanned the end of the second period and the start of the final frame of regulation, the Bolts couldn’t find a way to solve Montréal’s penalty kill.

After 40 minutes of action at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, the Lightning lead the Canadiens, 1-0, on the scoreboard and were outshooting the Habs, 19-14, despite Montréal holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Tampa held the lead in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (7-3), giveaways (10-3) and hits (44-35), while the Canadiens led in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final period.

Early in the third period, Nikita Kucherov had a great chance to score, but Price stood tall and shut him down while losing his stick and making desperation saves.

Montréal responded with a breakaway as Anderson burst into the zone with tremendous speed, was denied by Vasilevskiy and ultimately crashed back-first into the post and briefly went down the tunnel before returning for the rest of the game.

With 1:51 remaining in the third period, Ducharme pulled Price for an extra attacker, but after a stoppage resulted in neutral zone faceoff, the Habs sent Price back into the crease for a few seconds to ensure a little security between the pipes if they lost the draw.

Montréal won the ensuing faceoff as Price once again sprinted for the bench with 1:36 remaining, but Tampa’s defense was too much for the Canadiens– though the Lightning’s offense couldn’t put an exclamation point on the game with an empty net goal.

The Habs used their timeout with 1:24 remaining as assistant coach, Alex Burrows, tried to rally his players for one last push.

At the final horn, Vasilevskiy and the Bolts earned a, 1-0, shutout in Game 5 and clinched their second-straight Stanley Cup ring in as many years.

Wednesday night marked the third time that Tampa won the Cup in franchise history.

The Bolts also improved to 17-3 all time when scoring first in series-clinching games.

Tampa finished Game 5 leading in shots on goal, 30-22, including an, 11-8, advantage in the third period alone.

The Lightning dominated in just about everything else at the end of the night, leading in giveaways (11-6), hits (56-48) and faceoff win% (52-48), while both teams had nine blocked shots each.

Montréal exited the building 0/3 on the power play, but then again, Tampa also struggled on the skater advantage in the action– going 0/3 on Wednesday night as well.

Tampa finished the 2021 postseason 16-7 overall, while the Habs went 13-9.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Habs hold off elimination in overtime victory at home

For the first time since 1993, the Montréal Canadiens won a game in the Stanley Cup Final as Josh Anderson scored the game-winning goal almost four minutes into overtime to lift the Habs over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, on Monday night at Bell Centre.

As a result of the loss, the Lightning hold onto a 3-1 series lead with their next chance to clinch back-to-back Cups on Wednesday night in front of their home fans at Amalie Arena in Game 5.

Carey Price (13-8, 2.34 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 21 games played) stopped 32 out of 34 shots faced in the win for Montréal.

Tampa goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy (15-7, 1.99 goals-against average, .935 save percentage in 22 games played), made 18 saves on 21 shots against in the loss.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, replaced Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson in his lineup with Jake Evans, Alex Romanov and Brett Kulak.

Ducharme put Romanov on the left side of Kulak on the third defensive pairing and switched up his top-nine forwards– promoting Tyler Toffoli to the left side of the first line with Phillip Danault at center and Brendan Gallagher on right wing, while Anderson was promoted to the second line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield remaining in place.

Meanwhile, Evans took over at center on the third line with Paul Byron on his left wing and Artturi Lehkonen on his right side.

Alex Killorn entered Monday night as a “game-time decision” according to Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, and took part in warmup for the Lightning– but did not take part in any line rushes, so Cooper made no changes to his lineup from Game 3.

Attendance at Bell Centre was once again limited by the Québec provincial government and local health administrations and officially read as 3,500 fans for Game 4 as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues around the globe.

Past the midpoint of the opening frame, Tampa led Montréal in shots on goal, 10-1.

Unfortunately for the Lightning’s potent offense and shutdown defense, the Canadiens’ second shot on net was a goal.

The Bolts botched an effort to move the puck out of their own zone, while the Habs sustained pressure leading to a give-and-go for Suzuki and Caufield, whereby Suzuki then rid himself of the puck on a pass to Anderson (4) through the low slot from the trapezoid for a one-timer goal and the, 1-0, lead.

Suzuki (9) and Caufield (7) tallied the assists on Anderson’s goal as the Canadiens struck first at 15:39 of the first period and their first at any point in the series– ending a span of 255:39 without trailing for the Lightning since Game 7 against the New York Islanders in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals round.

Less than a minute later, Evans and Brayden Point were off to the penalty box together as Evans was assessed an interference infraction and Point was given two-minutes for roughing at 16:33 of the first period.

The two clubs almost got through a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 without any issue before Joel Edmundson caught Blake Coleman with a slash at 17:59, yielding a 4-on-3 advantage for Tampa for 34 seconds before the remainder of an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage for the Lightning would commence.

While on the ensuing power play, Point rang the post as the Bolts tried to even things up, but failed to convert on the advantage.

At the horn, both benches converged at center ice as the players were about to go back to the dressing rooms for the first intermission, but first exchanged some pleasantries.

Pat Maroon and Edmundson both received unsportsmanlike minors at 20:00 of the first period, which resulted in 4-on-4 action to start the middle frame.

After one period, Montréal led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite Tampa holding a, 12-5, advantage in shots on goal.

The Habs led in blocked shots (5-3) and giveaways (7-2), while the Bolts held the advantage in takeaways (3-1), hits (15-13) and faceoff win percentage (79-21).

Tampa had the only skater advantage in the opening frame and went 0/1, while Montréal had yet to see time on the power play.

The Canadiens got their first chance on the skater advantage at 5:50 of the second period as Point caught Lehkonen with a high stick and cut a rut to the sin bin as a result.

The Habs failed to convert on the power play.

Moments later, Corey Perry cut a rut to the box for hooking Tyler Johnson at 9:43, but once again the Lightning couldn’t muster anything on the advantage.

Nor could the Bolts get anything going when Joel Armia tripped up Mathieu Joseph at 14:28 and presented Tampa with another power play as a result– despite Victor Hedman ringing the iron on a heavy shot.

Late in the period, Jeff Petry failed to clear the zone on a pass that was broken up by Ryan McDonagh.

The puck deflected off of McDonagh’s stick and sailed through the air to Coleman who worked it to McDonagh in the slot on a short pass as the Tampa defender pinched and dropped the rubber biscuit back to Barclay Goodrow (2) for the one-timer past Price while the Canadiens goaltender was out of position.

McDonagh (7) and Coleman (8) notched the assists as the Lightning tied it, 1-1, at 17:20 of the second period.

Entering the second intermission, the Bolts and Habs were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Tampa leading in shots on net, 20-14, through 40 minutes of action.

Montréal, however, held the advantage in shots in the second period alone, 9-8, and led in giveaways (14-7), while the Lightning led in hits (30-28) after two periods.

Both teams had six blocked shots each, three takeaways each and split faceoff win%, 50-50, entering the final frame of regulation.

Tampa was 0/3 and Montréal was 0/1 on the power play heading into the third frame.

Almost midway into the final frame of regulation, Petry, Ben Chiarot, Anderson, Goodrow, Coleman and Yanni Gourde all received matching roughing minors for a scrum after the whistle at 7:42 of the third period.

The six skaters wouldn’t come out of the box for over six minutes as there weren’t many stoppages before their penalties expired.

About a minute after the six skaters went into the box, Romanov (1) wired a shot through traffic into the twine over Vasilevskiy’s blocker and just under the bar as Lehkonen skated by the Tampa netminder acting as a screen.

Evans (1) had the only assist on Romanov’s goal and the Habs took a, 2-1, lead at 8:48 of the third period, while Romanov became the youngest (21 years, 180 days) Canadiens defender in franchise history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final.

About five minutes later, Joseph led Maroon on a rush the other way from their own blue line into the attacking zone whereby Joseph setup Maroon (2) for a shot pass redirection goal to tie the game, 2-2, at 13:47.

Joseph (2) and Johnson (3) had the assists on Maroon’s goal.

Moments later, Nikita Kucherov hit the post– the third time of the night that Tampa registered a shot attempt off the iron– as the Bolts almost took the lead for the first time of the night.

Late in the period, off an attacking zone faceoff, Shea Weber caught Ondrej Palat with a stick to the face and drew some blood, yielding a four-minute double minor penalty at 18:59 of the third period.

Tampa’s advantage would spill over into the overtime period, but like the rest of the night, the Lightning couldn’t score on the skater advantage.

After regulation the Bolts and Habs were knotted up, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Tampa holding the advantage in shots on goal, 30-19, including a, 10-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Montréal held the lead in blocked shots (17-15), takeaways (7-4), giveaways (19-13) and faceoff win% (55-46), while Tampa led in hits (36-34).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Lightning finished the night 0/5 on the power play, while the Canadiens went 0/1.

Tampa nearly allowed a shorthanded goal when Hedman blew a tire along the blue line and failed to keep the puck in the attacking zone while Danault and Suzuki were off to the races and generated a one-timer on Vasilevskiy that the Lightning goaltender turned aside.

As the Habs surged in momentum and the Bolts got off to a slow start in the extra frame, Cooper used his timeout after a stoppage with 17:33 remaining in overtime.

Shortly thereafter, Anderson beat Jan Rutta and led a rush the other way with Caufield before the two kept hacking away at the loose puck on a rebound until Anderson (5) slipped it past Vasilevskiy on the short side.

Caufield (8) had the only assist on the goal at 3:57.

Montréal took Game 5, 3-2, in overtime and cut Tampa’s series lead to 3-1 as a result.

Despite losing, the Lightning finished the night with more shots on goal– leading the Canadiens, 34-21, in that department, including a, 4-2, advantage in overtime alone.

The Habs finished Monday night’s effort leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (20-13) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Tampa exited the building leading in hits (36-35).

The Bolts are 1-3 in their first attempts to close out a playoff series this postseason– only beating the Carolina Hurricanes on their first try in Game 5 of their Second Round matchup.

Tampa also had two losses in overtime in games when they had a chance to finish the series, including Game 6 on Long Island against the New York Islanders.

The Lightning are now 0-4 in overtime this postseason, while Montréal improved to 6-1 past regulation in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs– winning their first game in a Stanley Cup Final when facing elimination for the 12th time in franchise history and first since Game 7 against Chicago in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final.

Road teams are now 50-41-3 in a Stanley Cup Final game that required overtime after Monday night’s win for the home team Canadiens.

The most recent team to trail in the Final 3-0 to force a Game 5 was in 2014, when the New York Rangers forced the Los Angeles Kings to a Game 5 at Staples Center that the Kings ended up winning and taking home their second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.

On Wednesday, the Lightning attempt to repeat Los Angeles’ success in a Game 5 on home ice as they’ll host Montréal at Amalie Arena.

Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBC, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning yield commanding 2-0 series lead in, 3-1, victory

Though they were outshot, 43-23, on the night, Blake Coleman’s eventual game-winning goal with only seconds to spare in the second period and Ondrej Palat’s insurance marker thereafter in the third period were enough to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a, 3-1, win over the Montréal Canadiens on Wednesday.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (14-6, 1.89 goals-against average, .939 save percentage in 20 games played) made 42 saves on 43 shots against in the Game 2 victory for the Lightning as the Bolts took a 2-0 series lead in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final in front of their home fans at Amalie Arena.

Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price (12-7, 2.23 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in 19 games played), stopped 20 out of 23 shots faced in the loss.

Joel Armia returned to the lineup for Montréal on the Canadiens’ fourth line alongside Eric Staal and Corey Perry after missing Game 1. Armia was cleared from COVID protocol on Monday and flew in a private jet to Tampa and was not quite ready to go ahead of the, 5-1, loss in Game 1.

That was the only change to the lineup for Luke Richardson as Richardson remained at the reigns of the Habs on Wednesday.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, is expected to return behind the bench on Friday in time for Game 3 at Bell Centre in Montréal, where Ducharme has been isolating since testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

At the other end of the rink, Alex Killorn missed Game 2 after blocking a shot in Game 1 and playing in limited ice time thereafter. Tyler Johnson was promoted to Tampa’s second line, while Jon Cooper inserted Mathieu Joseph on the Lightning’s fourth line as a result.

The Bolts hosted 18,600 fans in attendance on Wednesday, which was up from Monday night’s capacity limit of 16,300.

The Québec provincial government informed the Canadiens on Wednesday night that Bell Centre would be limited to 3,500 fans for Game 3 on Friday– despite the large crowd that is sure to gather outside the arena anyway during the game.

Habs defender, Jeff Petry, tripped Brayden Point and presented the Lightning with the night’s first power play at 5:29 of the first period.

Tampa wasn’t able to convert on the skater advantage, however.

The Bolts had another unsuccessful power play moments later when Paul Byron cut a rut to the penalty box for catching Steven Stamkos with a slash at 9:57.

Once more, however, Tampa couldn’t score on the advantage.

Byron later returned to the sin bin for slashing once more at 17:27 of the first period, only this time he took Lightning defender, Erik Cernak, with him as Cernak was assessed a retaliatory cross checking infraction.

Meanwhile, Ryan McDonagh had caught Phillip Danault with a high stick and drew blood, yielding a four-minute double minor penalty at the same time.

As a result, Montréal went on a 4-on-3 power play for a pair of minutes before the Canadiens had a run-of-the-mill 5-on-4 skater advantage for the remainder of McDonagh’s minor (which would spill into the middle frame).

Neither team found the back of the net prior to the first horn of the night to signal the start of the first intermission.

The score remained, 0-0, despite the Canadiens leading in shots on goal, 13-6.

The Habs led in blocked shots (8-1), hits (14-11) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Bolts held the advantage in takeaways (5-1) and giveaways (3-1).

Both teams went 0/2 on the power play through one period on Wednesday.

Tampa was the first to get on the scoreboard as Johnson worked the puck back to Anthony Cirelli at the point whereby Cirelli (5) sent a floating shot from almost downtown through traffic off of Price’s blocker and under the Canadiens’ goaltender’s arm into the twine.

Johnson (2) and Jan Rutta (1) tallied the assists on Cirelli’s goal as the Lightning pulled ahead, 1-0, at 6:40 of the second period.

Cirelli’s goal was just the second shot on net for the Bolts in a span of almost 16 minutes.

Moments later, Mikhail Sergachev was penalized for interference at 10:03 and presented the Canadiens with another power play.

This time, Montréal made quick work of the skater advantage– in part, due to a couple lucky bounces.

Nick Suzuki (6) flipped a backhand shot towards the net as the puck bounced off the ice, caught McDonagh’s stick, changed direction and slipped through Vasilevskiy’s five-hole as Perry acted as a screen in front of the Tampa netminder.

Suzuki’s power-play goal was unassisted and tied the game, 1-1, at 10:36 of the second period.

Late in the period, Armia caught Coleman with a high stick at 16:38 and presented the Lightning with another power play.

Though Tampa wouldn’t score on the skater advantage, they would catch the Canadiens in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as the Habs turned the puck over in the neutral zone.

Barclay Goodrow chipped the rubber biscuit to himself around Ben Chiarot and entered the attacking zone on a rush with Coleman.

Goodrow then sent a backhand pass to Coleman (2) for the one-timed swing while diving to reach the puck– connecting on the mid-air rubber and scoring in the process to give the Lightning a, 2-1, lead at 19:58 of the second period.

It was the first goal for Coleman in 19 games as Goodrow (3) and McDonagh (6) picked up the assists and the Bolts entered the second intermission with the lead on the scoreboard.

Through 40 minutes, Tampa led, 2-1, despite trailing in shots on goal, 29-13. Montréal held a, 16-7, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Habs also led in blocked shots (9-6) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Lightning led in takeaways (9-4), giveaways (4-1) and hits (28-24).

The Canadiens were 1/3 on the power play and the Bolts were 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Joel Edmundson sent a reverse pass off the boards behind his own net intended for Petry, but Palat (5) intercepted the puck and banked it off of Price into the back of the net as the Canadiens defenders miscommunication proved costly at 15:42 of the third period.

Palat’s unassisted goal gave the Lightning a, 3-1, lead and secured the victory as such.

Moments later, Montréal pulled Price for an extra skater with about two minutes remaining in the game and used their timeout after a stoppage with 46.7 seconds to go, but it was to no avail.

At the final horn, Tampa had won, 3-1, and taken a 2-0 series lead as a result.

The two teams exchanged further pleasantries, yielding a cross checking minor and a misconduct for Cirelli at 20:00 of the third period, as well as a roughing minor and a misconduct for Perry at the same time.

Montréal finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-23, including a, 14-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Habs exited the building leading in faceoff win% (53-47), while the Bolts wrapped up Wednesday night leading in blocked shots (14-10), giveaways (6-2) and hits (40-36).

Despite each team receiving a couple infractions to finish off the night, the Canadiens finished 1/3 and the Lightning went 0/3 on the power play in Game 2.

For the first time in four Stanley Cup Final appearances, Tampa had a 2-0 series lead and didn’t split the series 1-1 through Games 1 and 2.

Another interesting stat from the night relates to the fact that the Habs fell to 10-4 this postseason when not giving up a goal in the first period. They dominated in shots on goal and have been the best at comebacks this postseason and yet…

Just not enough on Wednesday, apparently.

The series shifts to Bell Centre in Montréal on Friday night where the Lightning look to go up 3-0 in the series, while the Canadiens look to win Game 3 and cut Tampa’s series lead to 2-1.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBC, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning rout Canadiens in Game 1 victory at home

Nikita Kucherov scored a pair of goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning cruised to a, 5-1, victory over the Montréal Canadiens Monday night at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (13-6, 1.94 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in 19 games) made 18 saves on 19 shots against in the win as the Lightning jumped out to a 1-0 series lead in the Final.

Habs netminder, Carey Price (12-6, 2.18 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in 18 games played), stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

Jake Evans returned to the lineup for the Canadiens for the first time since sustaining a concussion on a charge from Mark Scheifele in Game 1 of Montréal’s Second Round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Evans missed the last nine games for the Habs.

Meanwhile, Joel Armia was cleared from COVID protocol on Monday, flew in a private jet to Tampa and participated in warmup, but was not ready to go as a game-time decision.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, will return to his regular role behind the bench in Montréal for Game 3, since testing positive for COVID-19 on June 18th and self-isolating.

In accordance with Canadian regulations, Ducharme will did not travel to the United States for Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, so he won’t have to quarantine for another 14 days when the series shifts to Montréal for Games 3 and 4.

Luke Richardson remains in command for the Habs until Bell Centre hosts its first Stanley Cup Final game.

16,300 fans filled Amalie Arena on Monday night as Tampa continues to loosen indoor COVID-19 restrictions in attendance in accordance with the NHL’s protocols. It was the largest crowd for a Lightning game since last season.

Bolts head coach, Jon Cooper, rolled out Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Kucherov on his first line, while completing his top-six forward group with Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos on the second line.

Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman comprised Tampa’s third line, while Pat Maroon, Tyler Johnson and Ross Colton carried the fourth line.

On defense, Cooper paired Victor Hedman with Jan Rutta as he’s done all postseason, while Ryan McDonagh and Erik Cernak served as his second pairing and Mikhail Sergachev was partnered with David Savard on the third defensive pair.

Richardson countered with Artturi Lehkonen, Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher on his first line, while Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield rounded out Montréal’s top-six forward group.

Paul Byron, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Josh Anderson skated together on the third line, while Evans, Eric Staal and Corey Perry slotted in on the fourth line.

On defense, Ben Chiarot suited up alongside Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson was paired with Jeff Petry and Erik Gustafsson skated with Jon Merrill on the third defensive pair for the Habs.

Cernak (1) opened the series’ scoring with a shot pass redirection goal over Price’s glove to give the Lightning a, 1-0, lead at 6:19 of the first period.

Palat (6) and Point (7) tallied the assists on Cernak’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in his 46th career postseason game.

Late in the period, Goodrow cross checked Gallagher and presented the Canadiens with the first power play of the series at 15:21 of the first period.

Montréal didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however, as the Lightning remained in command on the scoreboard.

Tampa got a power play at 19:14 after Chiarot roughed up Kucherov, but the Bolts couldn’t muster anything on the power play despite the split ends of the advantage over the remaining time in the first period and a little more than the opening minute of the middle frame.

After one period, the Lightning led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 7-5.

Tampa also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while Montréal led in giveaways (3-1), hits (26-19) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams managed to have three blocked shots each and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Chiarot sent a shot attempt at the goal frame that deflected off of something and caught the iron to the right of Vasilevskiy’s leg pad, but the Bolts remained in command uninterrupted.

Moments later, Gallagher turned the puck over in Montréal’s attacking zone, leading to a rush for the Lightning heading back the other way, whereby Goodrow sent a shot that was blocked before Coleman pounced on the loose puck and threw a shot towards the net.

Coleman’s shot went through Merrill and caught a piece of Gourde (6) as he stood in front of the crease acting as a screen before the rubber biscuit had eyes and made its way through Price’s five-hole to give Tampa a, 2-0, lead.

Coleman (7) and Goodrow (2) notched the assists on the goal as the Bolts took a two-goal lead at 5:47 of the second period.

Late in the middle frame, Chiarot played a little pinball after Tampa turned it over and the Habs worked the puck around the attacking zone.

Chiarot (1) unloaded on a slap shot that deflected off of Cirelli, then McDonagh and slipped behind Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa’s lead in half, 2-1, on the scoreboard at 17:40.

Kotkaniemi (3) and Weber (4) were credited with the helpers on Chiarot’s first goal of the 2021 postseason for the Canadiens.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Lightning led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 19-14, in shots on goal, including a, 12-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Tampa also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (7-2), giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Montréal led in hits (44-41).

As there were no penalties called in the second period, both teams remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Kucherov (6) threw the puck into the slot early in the final frame and Chiarot smacked it out of the air with his glove, but somehow the puck managed to float over Price’s glove and under the bar to give the Lightning a, 3-1, lead at 2:00 of the third period.

Sergachev (3) had the only assist on Kucherov’s first goal of the night.

Minutes later, Staal and Cernak exchanged pleasantries after a stoppage and received roughing minors at 6:30, resulting in a pair of minutes of 4-on-4 action.

Midway through the third period, Kucherov (7) received a pass from Point on an attacking zone faceoff win and sent a laser of a shot past Price high on the glove side to extend Tampa’s lead to three-goals.

Point (8) had the only assist on Kucherov’s second goal of the game as the Bolts made it, 4-1, at 11:25 of the third period.

About a couple minutes later, Coleman took off Gallagher’s helmet after Price froze the puck in Montréal’s own zone and slammed Gallagher into the ice face first, resulting in a bit of a bloody gash on Gallagher’s forehead and yielding a power play to the Canadiens as a result.

Coleman cut a rut to the box for roughing at 13:42, but the Habs weren’t able to score on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly after killing off Coleman’s minor infraction, the Bolts went on the power play as Kotkaniemi retaliated with a high stick on Cernak at 15:51.

Edmundson joined Kotkaniemi in the box late in the resulting power play for roughing Gourde at 17:20, yielding a 5-on-3 advantage to the Lightning as a result, whereby Cooper sent out five forwards to make the Habs pay on the scoreboard.

About 90 seconds later, Tampa struck on the power play when Stamkos (8) blasted a one-timer from his usual spot in the faceoff dot to beat Price on the short side.

Kucherov (23) and Point (9) tallied the assists on Stamkos’ power-play goal and the Lightning extended their lead, 5-1, at 18:50 of the third period.

At the final horn, Tampa had taken a 1-0 series lead with a, 5-1, victory over Montréal in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

The Bolts finished Monday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 27-19, including an, 8-5, advantage in the third period alone.

The Lightning also wrapped up Game 1 leading in blocked shots (15-5) and giveaways (9-3), while the Canadiens finished the night leading in hits (58-57).

Faceoff win% was split evenly, 50-50, while the Habs went 0/2 and the Bolts went 1/3 on the power play.

Tampa has a chance to take a 2-0 series lead and Montréal’s got a chance to even the series 1-1 on Wednesday night in Game 2 from Amalie Arena.

Puck drop is set for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for coverage, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Lightning seeking back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final

There are four teams remaining in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the first time since 1981, there are no Conference Finals going on.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the National Hockey League was forced to temporarily realign the divisions and get rid of conferences for a season as the league and it’s players’ union did what they could to get an abbreviated 56-game regular season schedule and a full Stanley Cup Playoffs experience in the history books.

In May, ESPN‘s Greg Wyshynski reported that the league would not award the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the victors of the equivalent third round, but after the Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in six games to conclude the Second Round of this year’s postseason on Thursday, the league apparently changed its mind.

With a regular all-Eastern Conference matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, as well as 50% of the teams representing the Western Conference in the other Semifinal series, both trophies will be awarded to the third round series winners after all.

The winner of the Lightning and Islanders series will take home the Prince of Wales Trophy, while either the Golden Knights or the Montréal Canadiens will win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

Montréal can join a short list of teams to have won both trophies in franchise history, as only the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Islanders have won each before.

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, for starters, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl was introduced in the 1967-68 season and awarded to the team that finished with the best regular season record in the West Division (the precursor to the Western Conference in the modern era), while the Prince of Wales Trophy dates back to the 1925-26 season and, you guessed it, eventually became the East Division (pre-Eastern Conference days) equivalent.

Ahead of the 1981-82 season, however, the league changed its postseason to include a Conference Finals round, thus involving these trophies in the playoffs and eventually leading to the creation of the Presidents’ Trophy for the team with the best regular season record since the 1985-86 season.

So anyway, the teams mentioned above that won both have changed conferences and divisions over time.

Now let’s talk about one-half of the Semifinal matchups– the Lightning and the Islanders.

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (36-17-3, 75 points) vs (3) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Tampa: 56 games played, .670 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Florida Panthers in six games (4-2) in the First Round before taking care of the Carolina Hurricanes in a five-game upset (4-1) to represent the Discover NHL Central Division in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals.

They’re also the defending Stanley Cup champions looking to be the first team to repeat as such since the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017.

The Bolts have followed the league’s salary cap rules to a “T”, which enabled them to spend almost $99 million as the playoffs began because Nikita Kucherov had been on the long term injured reserve all season long and due to the fact that the cap ceiling disappears for the postseason.

Brayden Point led the Lightning in the regular season with 23-25–48 totals in 56 games, while Ondrej Palat (15-31–46 totals in 55 games) and Victor Hedman (9-36–45 totals in 54 games) rounded out the top-three in scoring on the roster in 2020-21.

Through 11 games this postseason, Kucherov hasn’t missed a beat, leading his teammates with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in that span.

Tampa’s captain, Steven Stamkos, missed the last part of the regular season, but returned in time for the playoffs and has not missed any action due to injury.

As a result, he’s had 5-8–13 totals in 11 games– good enough for the second-most points by a Lightning skater in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Point (8-4–12 totals in 11 games) and Alex Killorn (6-6–12 totals in 11 games) are tied for the third-most on the postseason roster.

In the crease, Andrei Vasilevskiy led Tampa’s netminders with a 31-10-1 record in 42 games played (42 starts), yielding a 2.21 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts in the process.

Curtis McElhinney served as Vasilevskiy’s backup and amassed a 4-6-2 record in 12 games (12 starts), as well as a 3.09 goals-against average, an .875 save percentage and one shutout in that span.

Christopher Gibson even got a little time in net, recording a 1-1-0 record in two games (two starts), as well as a 2.65 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage.

Thus far in the playoffs, Vasilevskiy has yet to be chased from the crease– putting up an 8-3 record in 11 games (11 starts) to go with his 2.24 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Oh and he’s more than doubled his career postseason shutout total– recording two so far in Tampa’s quest for back-to-back rings.

At the other end of the rink, the New York Islanders beat two teams they’re used to beating in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs– defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games (4-2) in the First Round and the Boston Bruins in six games (4-2), as well, in the Second Round to reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals as the MassMutual NHL East Division’s representation.

Head coach, Barry Trotz, is still using his modified trap, though New York’s potent offense is actually leading the way in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 43 goals for thus far.

Vegas is second with 40 goals for, while Tampa sits third with 38 goals for and the best goal differential in the postseason so far with a plus-12 differential.

Mathew Barzal (17-28–45 totals in 55 games) led the Isles in scoring in the regular season. Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games), Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 gmaes) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) rounded out the top-three in team scoring in 2020-21.

Through 12 games this postseason, Jean-Gabriel Pageau has emerged at peak performance at the right time of the year to be on top of one’s game, leading the Islanders in playoff scoring with 3-10–13 totals.

Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier each have 11 points in 12 games, while Nelson has the fourth-most points on the playoff roster with 6-4–10 totals in that span.

In net, Semyon Varlamov led the way as New York’s starter, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games (35 starts), as well as a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and tied for the league lead in shutouts with Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, blanking opponents on the scoreboard seven times each this season.

Ilya Sorokin’s first season in the NHL was served in a backup role, going 13-6-3 in 22 games (21 starts) and accruing a 2.17 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and three shutouts in that span.

Though Sorokin ultimately helped the Islanders get over the Penguins in the First Round, his Game 1 performance against Boston left something to be desired, forcing Trotz to hand the keys to the crease back to Varlamov.

Varlamov’s gone on to post a 4-3 record in seven games (seven starts) this postseason, notching a 2.62 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in the process.

Sorokin, meanwhile, has a 4-1 record in five games (five starts), as well as a 2.32 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

With the way Varlamov’s been playing as of late– recording 40 saves against the Bruins some nights– it’s not likely that Sorokin will see any action against the Bolts.

Unlike how the Lightning got a key component of their roster in Kucherov back in time for when it counts, New York’s captain, Anders Lee, remains sidelined until the 2021-22 season with a knee injury.


These two teams are meeting for the fourth time in a playoff series, with the Lightning holding a 3-0 all time advantage, having defeated the Islanders in five games (4-1) in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, in five games (4-1) again in the 2016 Second Round, as well as in six games (4-2) in the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.

For the second year in a row, these two clubs are squaring off in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but unlike last year’s neutral site at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, the home crowds may be a factor in 2021.

What’s more, these two teams have yet to play each other thanks to the temporary division realignment for 2020-21, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

If history is any indicator, it’s that Tampa should win the series and extend their all time advantage to 4-0, but New York presented a challenge to the Bolts last year that is sure to be amplified by both rosters’ familiarity with each other, as well as the fact that the Lightning will have to go through the ringer that is known as Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

This isn’t to say that the fans in attendance at Amalie Arena won’t be just as boisterous, but there’s something to be said about a Long Island crowd this time of year– especially one that’s been longing for their first Stanley Cup title since 1983.

Not only that, but it’d be a great way to send the building off into retirement as the Islanders move into their new home in Elmont, New York at UBS Arena next season.

That said, the Lightning have home-ice advantage in this series for the first time this postseason and they’ve been pretty good at stealing games on the road– winning two out of three games in the First Round at BB&T Center against Florida and all three games held at PNC Arena in their Second Round series with Carolina.

2020 Stanley Cup winning head coach, Jon Cooper, pitted against 2018 Stanley Cup winning head coach in Trotz (then of the Washington Capitals)– this rematch is sure to be one hell of a battle.

Though the Lightning have cruised thus far, there’s something to be said about the tenacity of the Islanders and the way momentum seems to be working in their favor.

For the first time, it looks like New York will come out on top against Tampa and they’ll likely do it over seven games of some of the best hockey fans desire leading up to the Stanley Cup Final.

If it’s anything shorter, it’ll be because Vasilevskiy continued to stay hot and the Islanders gave up too many power plays to the Lightning, but New York was one of the least penalized teams in the regular season.

If the offense doesn’t sputter, the Isles have their best chance at getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984, when they lost in five games to the Edmonton Oilers.

Schedule:

6/13- Game 1 NYI @ TBL 3 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/15- Game 2 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/17- Game 3 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/19- Game 4 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/21- Game 5 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/23- Game 6 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/25- Game 7 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

*If necessary

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Vegas to face Montréal in the Stanley Cup Semifinal

For the first time since 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights are heading back to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 6-3, on Thursday night as Vegas clinched the series 4-2 on home ice at T-Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury (8-4, 1.91 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 12 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against in the win as the Golden Knights advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal.

Vegas will face the Montréal Canadiens in their first ever postseason series as the two teams will battle for one spot in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, while the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Islanders in the other Semifinal matchup.

The National Hockey League announced after Game 6 in Vegas, that the winner of the Golden Knights versus Canadiens series will be presented the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl– traditionally awarded to the victor of the Western Conference Final in a non-pandemic timeline.

Meanwhile, the winner of the Lightning and Islanders series will be presented with the Prince Of Wales Trophy as is usually awarded to the victor of the Eastern Conference Final when the league isn’t forced into a temporary realignment without conferences due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Knights are the first team in league history to win seven playoffs series’ in their first four years of existence.

At the other end of the rink, Philipp Grubauer (6-4, 2.61 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 10 games played), stopped 17 out of 22 shots faced in the loss.

Avalanche forward, Nazem Kadri, served the last game of his eight-game suspension on Thursday, while head coach, Jared Bednar, almost wasn’t available to do his duty behind the bench as a COVID test irregularity prevented him from attending morning skate.

Bednar was later cleared hours before the game on another test.

Colorado jumped out ahead of Vegas less than a minute into the opening frame– emulating the Golden Knights’ patented style at home in the postseason– as Devon Toews (1) scored the game’s first goal on a catch and release shot over Fleury’s glove.

Nathan MacKinnon (6) and Brandon Saad (1) had the assists on Toews’ goal as the Avs pulled ahead, 1-0, 23 seconds into the first period.

Colorado’s lead didn’t last long, however, as it turns out Vegas can still score within the opening minutes of a playoff game on home ice even if they allow the game’s first goal.

Nick Holden (1) received a pass from Reilly Smith and floated a shot through Grubauer’s five-hole while the Avalanche goaltender was still looking to the right corner– completely unaware of the puck’s location on the ice.

Smith (5) and Nicolas Roy (4) tallied the assists on Holden’s goal as the Golden Knights tied the game, 1-1, at 1:15 of the first period.

Both teams managed to score on their first shot on goal in Game 6.

Moments later, Vegas almost took advantage of a complete swing in momentum as Alec Martinez rang the post with a shot, but he’d play a factor later in the period regardless.

Martinez sent a pass through the slot to William Karlsson (4) for a one-timer goal that beat Grubauer low on the short side between his pad and the post to make it, 2-1, Vegas at 15:06.

Heading into the first intermission, the Golden Knights led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and trailed the Avalanche in shots on goal, 12-10.

Vegas held the advantage in everything else, however, as they dominated in blocked shots (15-5), takeaways (12-1), giveaways (5-0), hits (23-15) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Neither team had seen any action on the power play after one period.

Alex Pietrangelo kicked things off in the middle frame with an errant puck over the glass and an automatic delay of game penalty as a result at 2:23 of the second period.

Colorado took full advantage of the ensuing power play as Mikko Rantanen (5) sent a shot off of Zach Whitecloud’s skate and into the twine after the rubber biscuit clipped Fleury’s blocker on its way by.

MacKinnon (7) and Gabriel Landeskog (9) had the assists on Rantanen’s power-play goal as the Avalanche tied things up, 2-2, at 3:47 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Shea Theodore worked the puck to Pietrangelo for the shot and subsequent redirection by Keegan Kolesar (1) as the Golden Knights forward pocketed his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and gave his team a, 3-2, lead at 14:27.

Pietrangelo (7) and Theodore (5) notched the assists on the marker, but Vegas wasn’t able to pull away just yet as Colorado kept things close.

Andre Burakovsky (1) scored his first of the 2021 postseason off the post and in while Martinez inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (3) and Cale Makar (8) had the assists on Burakovsky’s goal as the Avs tied the game, 3-3, at 16:52.

Yet, just as quick as things can be evened up, things can fall apart as the Golden Knights’ forecheck forced a turnover in Colorado’s defensive zone as the Avalanche couldn’t make an exit.

Vegas worked the puck deep with an intentional shot wide of the net that caromed off the boards to the side of the slot where Pietrangelo (1) pounced on the loose puck for the eventual game-winning goal.

Alex Tuch (3) and Max Pacioretty (4) added the helpers as the Golden Knights took a, 4-3, lead at 19:42 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, Vegas led, 4-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Colorado, 22-16, in shots on goal, including a, 10-6, advantage for the Avs in the second period alone.

The Golden Knights continued to lead in blocked shots (24-7), takeaways (16-1), giveaways (12-1) and hits (37-31), however, as both teams managed to split faceoff win%, 50-50, through two periods.

The Avalanche were 1/1 on the power play, while Vegas had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

Vegas executed a play unlike any other with tremendous hand-eye coordination as Brayden McNabb let go of a shot that was redirected by Theodore, then by William Carrier (1) on the doorstep on a zig-zag play that extended the Golden Knights’ lead to two-goals.

Theodore (6) and McNabb (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively, as Carrier’s goal made it, 5-3, for Vegas at 11:46 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, the Golden Knights went on the power play for the first time Thursday night as Ryan Graves cut a rut to the sin bin for tripping Karlsson at 12:33.

Vegas was unsuccessful on the resulting skater advantage, however.

It was no big deal, though, as Colorado pulled Grubauer for an extra attacker with about 3:26 remaining in the game, thereby giving the Golden Knights ample opportunity to score at least one empty net goal.

And that’s just what they did.

Martinez botched a surefire empty net goal, so Pacioretty (4) cleaned things up by putting the icing on the cake with some extra insurance, 6-3, as a result of his unassisted empty net goal at 16:50 of the third period.

Bednar pulled his goaltender again for an extra skater, but Colorado couldn’t get another puck past Fleury.

At the final horn, Vegas had won, 6-3, and finished off the Avalanche 4-2 in the series– eliminating the Avs in six games in the process after Colorado rocketed out of the gate in the series with a, 7-1, win in Game 1 and a thrilling, 3-2, overtime victory in Game 2.

The Avalanche finished the night leading in shots on goal, 33-23, including an, 11-7, advantage in the third period alone and wrapped up Thursday’s effort leading in faceoff win% (53-47).

Meanwhile, the Golden Knights exited their own building leading in blocked shots (34-18), giveaways (15-1) and hits (46-42) in Game 6.

Colorado finished the game 1/1 on the power play, while Vegas went 0/1.

With the win, Fleury moved into sole possession of the fourth most postseason victories by a goaltender in league history with his 89th career Stanley Cup Playoff win.

Vegas will have home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Semifinal and the Stanley Cup Final, should they eliminate Montréal in the Semifinal, by virtue of having the best regular season record of the remaining four playoff teams.

Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena is set for Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.

Viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for coverage, while those in Canada can tune to CBC, SN or TVAS.

Meanwhile, the Islanders open up their series with the Lightning on the road in Game 1, Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena with puck drop set for 3 p.m. ET.

Fans in the United States looking to catch Tampa and New York can tune to NBC, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

To summarize, that’s Sunday, June 13th for Game 1 between the Isles and Bolts and Monday, June 14th for Game 1 of the Habs and Golden Knights.

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Bolts eliminate Panthers in Game 6 shutout at home, 4-0

The defending Stanley Cup champions are on their way to the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs after shutting out the Florida Panthers, 4-0, on home ice at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

That’s right, the Tampa Bay Lightning have emerged victorious in the “Battle of Florida” in six games (4-2) in what was Andrei Vasilevskiy’s first shutout the postseason, as well as the second of his career.

Vasilevskiy (4-2, 2.64 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in six games) turned aside all 29 shots that he faced in the shutout win for the Lightning.

Spencer Knight (1-1, 2.07 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in two games played) made 20 saves on 23 shots against in the loss for the Panthers.

Knight made his second straight start in net because, well, have you seen the other options Florida has in the crease?

Meanwhile, Barclay Goodrow returned to the lineup for Tampa– making his series debut in the process, while Luke Schenn was scratched.

Tyler Johnson raced to the puck to beat a looming icing call before sending a quick pass to the low slot where Pat Maroon (1) tapped the rubber biscuit behind Knight to make it, 1-0, Lightning at 6:16 of the first period.

Johnson (1) and Mikhail Sergachev (2) tallied the assists on Tampa’s first goal of the night– which, just like in Game 5, also happened to be on the first shot of the night for the Bolts.

Late in the period, Panthers defender, Brandon Montour hooked Brayden Point and presented the Lightning with a power play at 18:55 that would spill over into the middle frame.

After one period of action at Amalie Arena, Tampa led, 1-0, on the scoreboard– much to the pleasure of the home crowd– while both teams had eight shots on goal apiece.

Florida led in takeaways (2-0) and faceoff win percentage (69-31), while the Bolts led in giveaways (3-2) and hits (15-13) entering the first intermission.

Only the Lightning had seen any time on the power play and they were 0/1 heading into the middle frame.

Ryan McDonagh caught Aleksander Barkov with a high stick at 1:53 of the second period and presented Florida with a skater advantage as a result.

The Panthers couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play, however.

Midway through the middle frame, Sam Bennett was assessed a roughing infraction at 12:53.

This time, the Lightning made sure to capitalize on the resulting skater advantage as Steven Stamkos (3) sent a one-timer over Knight’s blocker after Nikita Kucherov worked a pass to Victor Hedman for the one touch pass to Stamkos for the power-play goal.

Hedman (8) and Kucherov (7) notched the assists as Tampa extended their lead to, 2-0, at 13:27 of the second period.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Sergachev cut a rut to the sin bin for cross checking Patric Hornqvist at 15:05. Florida did not score on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Lightning led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Panthers in shots on goal, 19-15.

Florida held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 11-7, and led in blocked shots (8-7) as well as faceoff win% (61-39). Meanwhile, Tampa held the lead in takeaways (5-3) and hits (25-21) as both teams managed to have four giveaways each entering the second intermission.

The Panthers were 0/2 and the Lightning were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Late in the third period, Point (4) was patient with the puck as he crept into the slot whereby his patience paid off with a deke and a goal as Knight overcommitted and the Lightning took a, 3-0, lead as a result.

Kucherov (8) and Erik Cernak (3) had the assists on Point’s goal at 14:36.

With nothing left to lose, Panthers head coach, Joel Quenneville, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker with about four minutes left in the game.

Nevertheless, Tampa wired a shot into the back of the empty net as Alex Killorn (4) redirected a pass from Cernak for the extra insurance marker.

Cernak (4) and Stamkos (5) each recorded their second points of the night with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, as the Bolts grabbed a, 4-0, lead at 18:18 of the third period.

About a minute later, Frank Vatrano took out his frustration on Cernak with a slash at 19:35, presenting the Lightning with one more power play for the evening, though it would go by the wayside as the final horn sounded 25 seconds later.

Tampa sealed the deal on a, 4-0, shutout victory to win the series 4-2– eliminating the Panthers in the process, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 29-24.

Florida held the advantage in shots on in the third period alone (10-9) as well as faceoff win% (53-47), while the Lightning finished Wednesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (13-12) and hits (32-27).

Both teams managed to have five giveaways each, while the Panthers finished 0/2 on the skater advantage and the Bolts went 1/3 on the power play in Game 6.

With the series wrapped up in six games (4-2) for the Lightning on Wednesday, Tampa awaits the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators series as their opponent in the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Hurricanes lead their series with the Predators 3-2 and can wrap things up on the road in Nashville on Thursday.

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Panthers live for another day in Game 5 victory

The Florida Panthers took the lead in the second period after giving up a goal on the first shot of the night and never looked back as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1, on home ice at BB&T Center on Monday in Game 5 of their 2021 First Round series.

Tampa leads the series 3-2 as Florida looks to hold off elimination in Game 6 on the road on Wednesday and force a Game 7 back on home ice Friday night as the Panthers continue their quest for their first playoff series victory since 1996.

Panthers goaltender, Spencer Knight (1-0, 1.02 goals-against average, .973 save percentage in one game played) made 36 saves on 37 shots in his postseason debut.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (3-2, 3.17 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in five games played) stopped 34 out of 37 shots against for the Lightning in the loss.

Knight (20 years, 35 days) made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in the effort on Monday and became the youngest goaltender to make his postseason debut in an elimination game, beating the previous record holder, Daniel Berthiaume, by 41 days (20 years, 76 days, 1986 Smythe Division Semifinal, Game 3 with Winnipeg) in the process.

Less than a minute into the action, Ross Colton (2) kicked off the game’s scoring as he received a backhand pass from Blake Coleman prior to one-timing the puck past Knight to give the Bolts a, 1-0, lead.

Coleman (2) and Ryan McDonagh (4) tallied the assists as Tampa jumped out on the scoreboard first 53 seconds into the first period.

Two minutes later, Victor Hedman cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking Anthony Duclair at 2:53.

Florida did not convert on their first power play of the night, however.

Moments later, McDonagh was sent to the sin bin for roughing at 7:18, but the ensuing power play for the Panthers didn’t last long as Jonathan Huberdeau found his way to the box for hooking Mikhail Sergachev at 7:26.

After a little more than 80 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Bolts had an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage, but couldn’t muster anything on the power play.

Midway through the opening frame, Ondrej Palat received an interference infraction and presented the Panthers with yet another skater advantage at 10:36 that went untouched.

Finally, Mason Marchment boarded Colton at 15:09, yielding another power play to the Lightning, but nothing came of the advantage as time winded down in the first period.

Heading into the first intermission, the Lightning led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and were outshooting the Panthers, 22-15.

Tampa dominated in blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (2-1), hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while Florida led in giveaways (6-3) after one period.

The Lightning were 0/2 and the Panthers were 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

MacKenzie Weegar (1) hit the back of the net off of a faceoff in the attacking zone with a shot from the point over Vasilevskiy’s glove as McDonagh screened his own goaltender.

Huberdeau (7) and Sam Bennett (4) notched the assists on Weegar’s goal as Florida tied the game, 1-1, at 6:19 of the second period.

About ten minutes later Marchment (2) one-timed a shot from the slot off of a pass from Aleksander Barkov from the trapezoid to give the Panthers their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 16:55 of the middle frame.

Barkov (5) and Weegar (2) had the assists on Marchment’s goal, which would go on to serve as the game-winner.

Luke Schenn received a holding infraction to wrap up the second period at 19:01, as the Panthers and Lightning headed back to their dressing rooms for the second intermission with Florida on a power play and leading, 2-1, on the scoreboard.

Tampa dominated in shots on goal, 31-26, despite trailing the Panthers, 11-9, in shots on net in the second period alone, however.

As Florida’s power play spilled over into the final frame, the Panthers were sure to take the full extent of their advantage as Barkov riffled a shot that Patric Hornqvist (2) inadvertently deflected past Vasilevskiy with his shoulder.

Barkov (6) and Huberdeau (8) tallied the assists as the Panthers extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, 35 seconds into the third period with a power-play goal.

With nothing left to lose, Bolts head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Frank Vatrano (1) floated a shot from about the attacking zone blue line into the empty goal frame.

Hornqvist (3) had the only assist on Vatrano’s empty net goal as the Panthers led, 4-1, at 19:45.

Tampa didn’t go away quietly, however, as Pat Maroon and Coleman got into a bit of a heated exchange with Florida defender, Brandon Montour.

Maroon was assessed a cross checking minor for using his stick illegally against Noel Acciari in addition to a ten-minute misconduct at 19:49 of the third period.

Coleman, meanwhile received a roughing minor as Montour picked up a cross checking infraction at 19:49, as well.

At the final horn, Florida had won, 4-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-37, including a, 12-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bolts wrapped up Monday night’s effort leading in blocked shots (16-10) and hits (49-40) while the Panthers finished Game 5 leading in giveaways (21-13) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Tampa went 0/2 and Florida went 1/5 on the power play on Monday.

With the win in Game 5, the Panthers held off elimination and forced a Game 6 on the road at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday. Puck drop is expected around 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune into the action on CNBC for national coverage, while those in Canada can choose from SN360 or TVAS.

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Bolts can eliminate Panthers in Game 5 with 3-1 series lead after, 6-2, win in Game 4

The Tampa Bay Lightning had an efficient day in the office, scoring six goals on 26 shots to beat the Florida Panthers, 6-2, in Game 4 of their 2021 First Round matchup at Amalie Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (3-1, 3.18 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in four games played) made 39 saves on 41 shots against in the win for the Lightning as he and his Bolts teammates grabbed a 3-1 series lead over Florida with the chance to eliminate the Panthers on the road in Game 5.

Panthers goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky (1-2, 5.36 goals-against average, .841 save percentage in three games played) made nine saves on 14 shots faced before he was replaced by Chris Driedger after allowing five goals in 27:15 time on ice.

Driedger (0-1, 3.72 goals-against average, .871 save percentage in three games played) stopped 11 out of 12 shots against for no decision in relief for Florida.

Game 4 was pretty much the opposite of Game 3 in net for the Panthers as Bobrovsky earned the start after relieving Driedger in a, 6-5, comeback win in overtime on Thursday night– only this time Driedger replaced Bobrovsky and Florida dropped Saturday’s effort, 6-2.

Yanni Gourde and Jonathan Huberdeau exchanged pleasantries as the intrastate rivals picked up right where they left off all series long and received roughing minors at 2:23 of the first period.

Less than a minute later– in the ensuing 4-on-4 action– Alex Killorn worked the puck up to Anthony Cirelli through the neutral zone, leading Cirelli into the attacking zone on a breakaway whereby Cirelli (2) beat Bobrovsky five-hole to give the Lightning a, 1-0, lead.

Killorn (3) and Erik Cernak (1) had the assists as Tampa struck first at 3:00 of the opening frame.

Minutes later, Mikhail Sergachev passed the puck along the point to Nikita Kucherov who sent a shot towards the net that Gourde (2) tipped past Bobrovsky to extend Tampa’s lead to two-goals.

Kucherov (4) and Sergachev (1) tallied the assists on Gourde’s goal and the Bolts pulled ahead, 2-0, at 7:24.

About half-a-minute later, Gourde received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and presented the Panthers with their first power play of the afternoon at 7:55.

It didn’t take Florida long to capitalize on the skater advantage as Aleksander Barkov sent a pass to Sam Bennett, who fired the puck off of Patric Hornqvist as Hornqvist stood in front of Vasilevskiy acting as a screen.

The puck bounced off Hornqvist to Huberdeau (2) who beat Vasilevskiy to the rubber biscuit and buried it into the twine as the Lightning goaltender dove across the crease in desperation.

Hornqvist (2) and Bennett (3) had the assists on Huberdeau’s power-play goal as the Panthers cut Tampa’s lead in half, 2-1, at 8:49.

Late in the period, Cernak fired a slap shot from the point that Ondrej Palat (2) deflected past Bobrovsky to make it a, 3-1, lead for the Bolts at 16:45 of the first period.

After 20 minutes of action, the Lightning led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, despite Florida leading in shots on goal, 15-7.

Tampa held the advantage in blocked shots (4-2), takeaways (4-0), giveaways (1-0), hits (18-15) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Panthers were 1/1 on the power play and the Lightning had yet to see the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Anthony Duclair was sent to the box for holding at 4:27 of the second period, yielding a power play to Tampa for the first time Saturday afternoon as a result.

It didn’t take the Bolts long to strike on the skater advantage as Kucherov sent a shot pass to Killorn (2) for the doorstep redirection as the Lightning extended their lead, 4-1, at 5:41.

Kucherov (6) and Victor Hedman (7) had the assists on Killorn’s power-play goal as the Lightning continued their offensive onslaught on the scoreboard with their sixth power-play goal of the series.

Less than two minutes later, Killorn (3) tallied his second goal of the afternoon as Cirelli chipped the puck into the attacking zone before Steven Stamkos dished a pass to Killorn for the goal.

Stamkos (3) and Cirelli (2) notched the assists on Killorn’s second goal of the game as the Bolts pulled ahead, 5-1, at 7:15 of the second period.

After giving up five goals before the midpoint of the afternoon, Panthers head coach, Joel Quenneville, replaced Bobrovsky with Driedger to try to light a spark under his players.

Pat Maroon boarded Frank Vatrano about a minute later and presented Florida with another power play at 8:23 of the middle frame.

The Panthers weren’t on the skater advantage for that long as Carter Verhaeghe checked Cirelli away from the puck and was assessed an interference minor at 8:37.

Florida went back on the advantage as Cernak was penalized for roughing at 8:56, yielding a rare 4-on-3 power play to the Panthers for a 1:28 span.

Minutes later, Ryan Lomberg was checked from behind into Vasilevskiy and proceeded to antagonize Tampa in the crease after the whistle.

Lomberg and Sergachev each received roughing minors at 13:41 and plunged the game into two minutes of 4-on-4 action before Hedman hooked Verhaeghe at 15:36 and presented Florida with five seconds of another 4-on-3 advantage before an abbreviated regular 5-on-4 power play.

Late in the period, Sergachev caught Vatrano with a high stick at 17:45 and the Panthers went back on the power play.

This time Florida capitalized on the skater advantage as Verhaeghe (2) received a pass, pulled the puck to his backhand and elevated the rubber biscuit over Vasilevskiy and under the bar.

Barkov (4) and Huberdeau (6) had the assists on Verhaeghe’s power-play goal as the Panthers trailed, 5-2, at 18:45 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Kucherov ran into Driedger and received a minor infraction for goaltender interference at 19:27, providing Florida with a power play that would extend into the final frame.

Through 40 minutes of action, Tampa led, 5-2, on the scoreboard despite trailing the Panthers, 34-18, in shots on goal. Florida held a, 19-11, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

The Bolts continued to dominated in just about everything else, however, leading in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (5-2), giveaways (2-1) and hits (28-26), while the Panthers led in faceoff win% (51-49).

Florida was 2/6 and Tampa was 1/1 on the power play heading into the final period.

Radko Gudas elbowed Ross Colton early in the third period and the Lighting went on the power play at 4:00 of the final frame.

Tampa made quick work of the skater advantage as they tallied another power-play goal– this time from Kucherov (3) on a one-timer– to make it, 6-2, for the Bolts.

Stamkos (4) and Killorn (4) had the assists on Kucherov’s power-play goal at 4:47 of the third period.

There were no more goals for the rest of Saturday afternoon’s action at Amalie Arena, but both clubs traded power play opportunities and dealt heavy blows that could affect the lineups for Game 5 on Monday.

Jan Rutta cross checked Owen Tippett at 8:23, so Florida pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with nothing else left to lose on the ensuing power play.

Then Cernak got slashed and took a minute to get back on his skaters as Hornqvist was the offender and sent to the sin bin at 9:58, yielding 25 seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for the Lightning.

Minutes later, Duclair gave Kucherov a quick slash behind the knee, leaving Kucherov injured on the ice, clutching his left leg before skating off on his own, without putting much weight on his knee.

Duclair was assessed a minor for slashing at 10:57 and the Lightning had a 5-on-3 advantage for a little less than a minute as a result.

Hornqvist later hit Sergachev shoulder-to-shoulder and sent the Bolts defender flying face first into the boards, leaving Sergachev hurting a bit.

Seconds later, Maroon and Hornqvist each received misconducts and had their nights come to an end at 16:24 of the third period.

Late in the game, Lomberg received a roughing minor at 17:05, as the Lightning wrapped things up with one more power play for the afternoon.

At the final horn, Tampa had won, 6-2, despite finishing Saturday’s action trailing in shots on goal, 41-26. The Lightning had actually led in shots on goal in the third period alone, 8-7.

The Bolts had the advantage in blocked shots (12-6), while Florida finished the day’s effort leading in giveaways (3-2), hits (37-33) and faceoff win% (55-45).

The Panthers went 2/7 and the Lightning went 2/4 on the power play in Saturday’s effort.

Tampa takes a 3-1 series lead heading back to Sunrise, Florida where the Panthers face elimination on home ice in Game 5 on Monday.

Puck drop from BB&T Center is set for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune in to national coverage on CNBC, while those in Canada can catch the action on FX-CA or TVAS.