Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the visiting Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoffs second-round series on Sunday and move within one win of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for a third straight season.
Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Corey Perry and Erik Cernak also scored. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves for the Lightning, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who will bring a 3-0 lead into Game 4 on Monday night in Tampa.
Vasilevskiy held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal in a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of their first-round series, and he has limited the Panthers to one goal in each of the first three games of this series.
Sam Reinhart scored and Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves for Florida, which had the best record in the NHL during the regular season.
Perry, who turned 37 earlier in the week, scored for the third straight game off a deflection in front of the net to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 13:21 of the first period.
Brandon Hagel was penalized for cross-checking Eetu Luostarinen into the end boards and the Panthers went on their first power play at 15:29 of the first.
Florida came in 0-for-25 with the man-advantage in these playoffs, but Reinhart scored on the ensuing power play to tie the score 1-1 at 16:07.
Cernak used Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar as a screen and scored with a wrist shot from the left circle to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead at 2:54 of the second period.
Aleksander Barkov hit the post for the Panthers at 5:59 before the Lightning stretched the lead to 3-1 on a one-timer from the left circle by Stamkos.
Kucherov scored into an empty net to make it 4-1 with 3:54 left. Stamkos then hit the empty net with 2:09 remaining.
–Field Level Media