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The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the first period and got 32 saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy to beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 in Game 2 of a Central Division first-round playoff series on Tuesday in Sunrise, Fla.
The Lightning now hold a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series as play shifts to Tampa for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat scored in the first period before Florida’s Mason Marchment responded in the second. Yanni Gourde sealed the outcome with an empty-net goal with 1:25 remaining in the game.
The Lightning jumped in front thanks to a fortuitous bounce. Florida’s Anton Stralman, who left Tampa Bay as a free agent in July 2019, went to block Stamkos’ pass across the ice to Nikita Kucherov but knocked it past his goalie.
Stamkos got credit for the goal at 4:52 of the first.
Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead about 10 minutes later when Palat pounced on the rebound of a Brayden Point shot that rang off the post.
Florida cut into its deficit in the second, outshooting the Lightning 11-4 and getting a goal from Marchment off a pass from Carter Verhaeghe at 14:21.
The Panthers could get no closer, however.
Florida started Chris Driedger in net for Game 2 after Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 40 shots in the opener. Driedger ended up with 26 saves on 29 shots.
Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said it was an opportunity for Driedger, who made his NHL postseason debut on his 27th birthday.
“He has done everything we would want and it was an opportunity to see how it would play out in the playoffs,” Quenneville said. “We felt this was the right time to give him the opportunity. It is based on the performance and the opportunity.”
–Field Level Media