The Lightning have won four straight since falling behind Toronto 3-2 in the first round and will look to take a commanding series lead over the Presidents Trophy-winning Panthers when the matchup moves across the state to Tampa for Game 3 today at 1:30 pm on TNT.
Thursday night came their latest win as Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds remaining, giving the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.
Colton said he was just trying not to get scored on in the final minute. He wound up being the hero when Nikita Kucherov retrieved a loose puck behind the Florida net and flicked a perfect no-look, backhand pass that Colton lifted over Sergei Bobrovsky’s right shoulder to win it.
Florida, which had the NHL’s best record during the regular season, now has to win four of the final five games in the series to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
The Lightning, meanwhile, are playing like a team determined to become the first to win three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders captured four in a row in the early 1980s.
“We’re two games closer to where we want to be, but we’re not there yet,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I told you this in the last series, and I’m going to tell you again: Tonight was just one game. We’re here to win a series.”
Tampa’s Amalie Arena is playing host to a concert Saturday, so the teams get an extra day off before starting a back to back with Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Monday. … Thursday marked only the second day that the Panthers had a home playoff game on the same day that the Miami Heat — their South Florida neighbors who play about 45 minutes south — had one of their own. The first such day was Tuesday.