Lightning-Panthers Game 2 Bulletin: Full Engagement

Blood stained the front of Erik Cernak’s shirt. Stitches closed a cut on Corey Perry’s right eye. A parade of players – Mikhail Sergachev, Cernak, Steven Stamkos, Brandon Hagel – carried a path from the tunnel to the locker room and back.

The Lightning were bloodied, bruised and grazed in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series against the Panthers Thursday at Sunrise. But it was Florida that suffered the most after Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory gave them a 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven series moves to Tampa.

Think this team is committed to their pursuit of a third straight Stanley Cup championship?

The Lightning sacrificed their body by throwing themselves in front of shots, blocking 24 and taking shots to make plays. But the Panthers also did their part. Feeling they didn’t play with enough jam in Tuesday’s opener, Florida started Game 2 with their fourth line of Patric Hornqvist, Ryan Lomberg and Eetu Luostarinen on the ice.

They set the physical tone early on, as Hornqvist pushed Ondrej Palat into the boards and MacKenzie Weegar hit Perry, two of the Panthers’ 24 first-period hits, nearly as many as they had (30) in all Game 1. They didn’t back down, delivering 52 of the game’s combined 87.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the hits didn’t have the intended effect, as the Lightning kept their cool, withstood the punishment, remained patient and took advantage of Florida’s occasional recklessness to move up. odd rushes.

The Lightning folded but didn’t break, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 of 36 shots, the penalty kill blocked the Panthers’ power play on all four power-play opportunities, and Tampa Bay rectified the shot to Ross Colton’s winning goal with less than four seconds remaining.

Grade: W, for warriors

Here’s how we rated the rest of the Lightning’s performance in Game 2:

what a winner

Lightning center Ross Colton (79) celebrates his game-winning third period goal with Ryan McDonagh (27) against the Panthers. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Although they’re rarely on the ice together, it’s no coincidence that Colton and Nikita Kucherov combined on the game-winning goal.

After Palat kept the puck at the offensive blue line and circled it around the boards towards Kucherov, Tampa Bay’s most creative point guard drew two Florida defensemen under the goal line before making a pass blind backhand to Colton in front.

Colton, who seems to have a knack for getting into goalscoring position and has a great outing, found a weak spot under the left circle when Gustav Forsling and Weegar chased Kucherov behind the net before scoring high as the keeper Sergei Bobrovsky fell on the ice.

Delicious.

Grade: A+

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poor omens

These were not the best omens.

Perry had to have himself stitched up during warm-ups after his own shot ricocheted off the crossbar and hit him above the eye, something he said he had never seen in 17 seasons in the league. NHL.

Then his ritual shot the length of the rink towards the empty Panthers net as the players left the ice hit a skate and deflected harmlessly towards the side boards.

But neither seemed to bother the superstitious Perry, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal just over 12 minutes into the game.

Starting from the right spot, Perry skated along the boards to the corner, then arched into the slot between the circles to make himself available. He raised his stick as Stamkos skated into the left circle, then presented just enough of his blade for Stamkos to hit it with his big shot.

The puck deflected off Bobrovsky’s glove for Perry’s fourth playoff goal and third on the power play.

Grade: A

take a toll

Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) falls to the ice as Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) looks on.
Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) falls to the ice as Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) looks on. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Jon Cooper seemed to suggest earlier this week that the pain of being hit by a puck was nothing compared to what a player would feel returning to the bench if he missed an opportunity to pounce on a shot.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt a lot.

Sergachev was hit in the cheek by a shot from Sam Bennett. An attempt by Gustav Forsling brought Cernak’s stick up, catching him on the chin. Both went to the locker room in the first half but came back for the second.

Stamkos went to the locker room three times. Hagel had to be helped into the tunnel after a shot went off the side of his skate early in the third. Both returned to the game.

Pucks that hit bodies don’t make it to the net, and the Lightning have allowed just three goals in their last three games.

It hurts to win. But it hurts even more to lose.

Grade: A

Give the example

It starts with the captain.

Defenders Cernak and Ryan McDonagh are known for blocking shots. But when you get to the playoffs, everyone is expected to sacrifice their body. On Thursday, Stamkos led the way.

He was obviously in pain after blocking an Aaron Ekblad outburst from the right circle in the second period, but finished his shift before skating to the bench. He went to the locker room, then returned a few minutes later.

He returned to the locker room after colliding with Ekblad while looking for the puck in the third period. No sooner had he returned than he had to come back a third time after taking a Weegar hand shot.

Again he came back.

After following his lead throughout the game, Stamkos’ teammates caught it at the end, killing the penalty after Stamkos was called for tripping Sam Reinhart with 3:23 left.

This is what you call membership.

Grade: A-

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