Recap: Panthers drop heartbreaking 2-1 decision to Lightning with seconds to go

Cats find a way to loss to the Bolts again

Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds left in a game that looked destined for overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 victory over a gutted Florida Panthers squad that can’t find answers offensively.

After MacKenzie Weegar turned the puck over with 15 seconds left, the Cats failed to clear twice and paid the ultimate price when Ondrej Palat bounced the puck off the boards to Nikita Kucherov down low.

Gustav Forsling gave chase to Kucherov and then for some inexplicable reason, Weegar decided to do the same, leaving the slot to Colton, who after receiving a slick backhand pass from Kucherov, ripped a shot high with Ryan Lomberg a passive spectator.

The Panthers had two power play chances in the third, one early, one late, and failed to convert on either. They went 0 for 4 in the game and are now 0 for 25 in the postseason. A complete failure by both the players and the coaching staff.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring with yet another power-play goal 12:06 into the first. Corey Perry deflected Steven Stamkos’ pass by a Sergei Bobrovsky with the second assist going to Victor Hedman. The goal came thirty-seven seconds after Brandon Montour went off for hooking.

The Cats finally got one to go with 1:53 left in the second. After Claude Giroux sent Forsling into the Lightning zone with speed, the defenseman dished off to Eetu Luostarinen, who fired a shot on net that Andrei Vasilevskiy got a lot off, but not enough to keep from trickling over the goal line.

Florida played better than they did in Game 1, displaying more energy, outhitting the Lighting 52-35, out-shooting them 36-28 and dominating on faceoffs, but once again, the team’s talented group of forwards couldn’t find a way to open up the Lightning’s defense for high-quality scoring chances or pierce Vasilevskiy more than once.

Last-second, fatal mistake aside, the Panthers are matching Tampa Bay’s defensive game 5-on-5, proving that they can play low-scoring playoff hockey. It’s the power play and a lack of big moments from the team’s best players that’s killing them.

Shock & Awww

  • Eetu Luostarinen’s second period marker was his first career playoff goal. He is the 13th different Panther skater to score a goal this postseason and the fifth (joining Aaron Ekblad, Anton Lundell, Sam Reinhart, Anthony Duclair) to score their first career playoff tally.
  • Ross Colton’s game-winning goal was his fifth of the playoffs, which is tops on the Lightning.
  • Gustav Forsling led Florida with five shots on goal while Radko Gudas registered seven hits and Ben Chiarot and six.
  • The Panthers blocked 24 shots, their most in a playoff game since the NHL began tracking that stat.
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy kept the Cats off the scoreboard in the third period for the second straight game. He posted his fourth win in a row and finished with 35 saves,
  • You have to feel for Sergei Bobrovsky, who had another strong game, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Who had the club’s offense and power play letting Bob down on their playoff bingo card?
  • For the happier side of Game 2 visit Raw Charge./