After going down 2-0 in the series, the Florida Panthers were able to take game 3 in an overtime thriller 6-5. Despite coming out with energy, the Panthers were able to jump out to an early lead. Despite an amazing offensive performance in the second, the Lightning were lose defensively throughout. As a result, Florida was able to tie the game in the third and win the game an overtime. The series is far from over
Cats pounce First
The Lightning, with a crowd of 9,000 behind them came out like gangbusters. They came out with energy helped on by the largest crowd in Amalie Arena in almost 2 years. However it was Florida that pounce on an early lead. Jonathan Huberdeau dished a sick pass over to Sam Bennett. Bennet was able to beat Steven Stamkos back door and redirect it pas Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Faceoffs, a critical part of the game, is something the Lightning have struggled with throughout this series. Despite winning 52.1% of the faceoffs, the Lightning would lose multiple key draws. This would include The goa that gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Huberdeau was able to win a faceoff back to Gustav Forsling who slid it over to Radko Gudas. Gudas’ initial shot was blocked by Ondrej Palat. However Gudas recovered and was able to snipe it past Vasilevskiy.
The second period was the Lightning’s turn to strike. They would do so a franchise playoff record 5 times in the second. A long overdue goal from Tony Cirelli would get the Lightning on the board. Ross Colton would notch his first playoff goal on a great shot over the glove of Chris Driedger. Stamkos was able to redirect a nice dish from McDonagh to give the Lightning their first lead
The sea-saw affair would continue as the Panthers would tie the game on the goal from Alex Wennberg. The Lightning would answer with two power-play goals from Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. Despite putting on a riveting offensive performance, the defense was entirely too lose. The Panthers still had lots of chances in that second period and it felt like those two goals wouldn’t be enough.
Perfect record gone
The Lightning have been perfect when leading after two periods. However that record is no more. The Panthers were able to pounce all over the Lightning in third. Patrick Hornquist had a puck redirect off his skate and past Vasilevskiy on the powerplay. Then Forsling tied the game after he was able to walk in from the point all alone because the Bolts had overloaded the far corner. Victor Hedman said postgame “thought like we protected the lead and didn’t play to our strengths” and that is exactly what it looked like
Unlikely hero able to pounce at the opportunity
The Lightning had the opportunity to win the game early in overtime. Anthony Duclair took a cross-checking penalty at the end of regulation. Despite going 2-2 in the game up until that point, Tampa Bay was unable to generate many looks at the net. This swung the momentum back in the Panthers favor. Florida would win another key draw and Gudas was able to send it to the neutral zone. Frank Vatrano made a great play to tip the puck past Hedman to Ryan Lomberg who was able to chip the puck underneath the arm of Vasilevskiy and win the game for Florida.
Game 3 followed a similar script to game 1. Both teams were able to generate and capitalize of numerous chances while not playing string defensively. Head coach Jon Cooper said that in games like these “the defensive side gets skewed a little bit”. The Lightning will need to be better defenseively if they hope to extend their lead in the series. However the Lightning still lead the series 2-1. It would’ve been a shock to many had Florida not won a game. Despite losing game 3, the Lightning are still in an advantageous position. splitting the games at Amalie would send them back to Florida with a 3-1. However, Game 4 starts at zero and is anyone’s game. This series is far from over and per Cooper the Lightning will have to “circle back tomorrow and straighten some stuff up”.
- Ryan Lomberg – OT winner (and didn’t Start any silly scrums after the whistle)
- Jonathan Huberdeua – 3 assist and filled in for Barkov after his injury
- Radko Gudas – 2 assist including the OT winner.
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