Victor Hedman scored the winning goal on a breakaway 54 seconds into overtime and Andrei Vasilevkiy stopped 36 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Florida Panthers 3-2 in the first of two from Amalie Arena.
The Panthers led twice in the game, opening the scoring at the 15:13 mark of the first period when Alex Wennberg took a pass at the blue line from Markus Nutivaara and found an open Patric Hornqvist heading towards the net. The grizzled veteran quickly slung a backhander by Vasilevkiy for his first goal since he scored against the Bolts on March 21.
A little Swede to Swede action to put the Cats up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/GXQq2x6cfc— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) April 15, 2021
Tampa Bay tied the game 13:28 into the second when Vasilevskiy caught the shorthanded in the midst of a change and sent a long pass to Alex Killon. Killorn moved in unimpeded on Chris Driegder before sliding the puck over to Anthony Cirelli for the put-away. MacKenzie Weegar broke up the pass, but unfortunately, the puck found its way under Driedger and over the goal line.
After peppering Vasilevskiy to open the third, the Cats jumped back on top at 7:13 when Nutivaara sent Jonathan Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair away on a 2-on-1 break. When he reached the top of the left circle, Huberdeau sent a spin-o-rama backhand pass over Duclair, who one-timed it home for his fifth of the season. Just a ridiculous assist by number eleven.
The Lightning quickly struck back, tying the tilt 2:44 later when Blake Coleman fed Mikhail Sergachev at the point and he sent a pass down low to Ross Colton, who redirected the puck off Driedger’s pad and in.
Hedman’s decider came in a frenzied sequence that saw Dreidger deny Killorn on one end and Vasilevskiy make a stop on Weegar at the other. Killorn lugged the rebound up ice before springing Hedman, who used his long reach to deposit the puck around the Florida keeper.
look at Victor Hedman go pic.twitter.com/E0Z213ZQ5E— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) April 16, 2021
A tough defeat for the Panthers, who carried the play throughout, and basically lost to one guy, Vasilevskiy. The best goaltender on the planet improved to 14-0-0 on home ice and set up his team’s first goal. Florida out-shot Tampa Bay 38-19, and 15-5 in the final frame, where Vasilevskiy sparkled, and also won the night in the faceoff circle by a 2-1 margin. The Lightning’s 19 shots are the fewest shots allowed by the Cats in a game this season, and are tied for the second-fewest shots in a game against the Lightning in franchise history. Other than going 0 for 3 on the power play, the Panthers played a very strong game. Tampa Bay’s goals were a little lucky (for them) as Weegar and Driedger got a piece of the puck and both ended up in the net. Unfortunately, that’s the way it going right now for the Cats, losers of three of their last four right now. The two teams will meet again on Saturday. Can’t wait for the rematch...
Shock & Aww
- The Panthers won 35 of their 53 total faceoffs, led by Noel Acciari (7-8, 88%), who blocked five shots, tied for the most by a Panther in a game this season.
- Brandon Montour, Nikita Gusev and Lucas Wallmark each made their season debuts for Florida. Montour was +2 with one hit, one blocked shot and one takeaway in 17:59 TOI. Gusev was -1 with three shots on goal in 17:54. Wallmark went +1, had one shot, one block and a takeaway in 13:37.
- Patric Hornqvist tallied his 13th goal of the season and led the Panthers with eight shots on goal, his highest shot total in a game this season.
- Markus Nutivaara produced his first multi-point game of the season. He has collected three assists over his past two games.
- Anthony Duclair has produced a point in each of his last four games played (2G/2A).
- Fittingly, the guys who scored the goals - Alex Killorn, Ross Colton and Victor Hedman - led the Lightning with three shots on goal apiece.
- For more on round five of the Battle of the Sunshine State, plug in to Raw Charge.