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Lightning Quiet South Beach, Take Game One 4-1

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By Michael Wax

2022 Playoffs: The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1 in game one of their conference semifinal matchup, taking a 1-0 series lead.

Game Summary

1st Period

With forward Brayden Point being ruled out before game time, the Lightning elected to go down an old road: 11 forwards, seven defensemen. Defenseman Jan Rutta, who had not played since game one against the Maple Leafs, drew back into the lineup.

Despite a strong start from the Lightning, the Panthers turned on the jets and started controlling play at the halfway point of the period. With just over 14 minutes gone in the opening frame, the Lightning were caught in a neutral zone turnover, forcing Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat to rush back. Neither one picked up Anthony Duclair, who took a beautiful cross-ice pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and roofed it to give the Panthers the early 1-0 lead.

2nd Period

Another even period of play between the two teams, but it was the Lightning that were able to take advantage and tie the game. MacKenzie Weegar hooked Nikita Kucherov, giving the Lightning a power play. On the power play, and without control of the zone, Nikita Kucherov danced his way through and broke the ankles of Aaron Ekblad, before passing the puck over to a wide-open Corey Perry for his third goal of the playoffs.

During a penalty kill by the Lightning, Erik Cernak blocked a shot and subsequently saved on goal. Cernak went right down the tunnel as soon as he got to the bench, and Coach Cooper had no update after the game.

3rd Period

After two periods of relatively even play, the Lightning took control in the third period. The fourth line got their second goal of the game, when Pierre-Édouard Bellemare followed up on a Corey Perry rebound and got it over the glove of Bobrovsky for a 2-1 lead, the Lightning's first lead of the series.

After a called back goal for Florida and some tense moments, the Lightning had the opportunity to o back to the power play. With sustained zone time, Nikita Kucherov skated towards Sergei Bobrovsky with all of the space he was given and showed his shooting ability to make it 3-1.

While the Panthers challenged the play for goaltender interference, and argued that Anthony Cirelli had hit Sergei Bobrovsky in the mask, the referees determined that the conduct was incidental and happened outside of the blue paint, causing the goal to stand and Florida to be charged with a delay of game penalty. On the Lightning power play, Ross Colton followed up on a deflected Mikhail Sergachev shot to put the Lightning up 4-1 and ice the game.

Game two will be on Thursday night at 7:00 pm, where the Lightning will try to take a 2-0 series lead on the road.

Game Stats

Our Three Stars

1. Perry (TBL): 1 Goal, 1 Assist

2. Kucherov (TBL): 1 Goal, 1 Assist

3. Vasilevskiy (TBL): 33 saves on 34 shots

Media's Three Stars

1. Vasilevskiy (TBL): 33 saves on 34 shots

2. Kucherov (TBL): 1 Goal, 1 Assist

3. Perry (TBL): 1 Goal, 1 Assist

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