SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bolts are heading back to Tampa with a 2-0 series lead thanks to last second heroics by Ross Colton and Nikita Kucherov.
Colton scored the go-ahead goal off a behind the net assist from Kucherov to secure a 2-1 Lightning win over the Panthers. It was Colton's team-leading fifth goal this postseason.
He chipped in the winner with less than four seconds left on the clock.
"When you’re on the ice with Kuch you’ve gotta be ready for anything," Colton said after the game. "I think when we went in the corner I just said, 'Are you kidding me?' like ten times because I honestly couldn’t believe that he put it on my stick."
THAT'S ROSS GOAL-TON TO YOU pic.twitter.com/cH9UyQ0Znq— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 20, 2022
Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 35 shots for Tampa Bay. Bobrovsky finished with 25 saves.
The game was much more physical than the first bout with the teams combining for 87 hits and seven penalties. The Lightning made a commitment to blocking shots and sacrificing their bodies during game two. Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak both took pucks to the face, while team captain Steven Stamkos left the briefly after blocking a shot with his leg.
"That’s just the sacrifice at this time of the year. Unfortunately that’s just the expectation of our group," Stamkos said with a grin. "Guys are willing to do that, and that’s a great trait to have as a team."
Tampa Bay jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first period on a ricochet goal from Corey Perry. Steven Stamkos had the assist on the goal.
The Panthers came back to tie in waning moments of the second period from a Eetu Luostarinen goal.
In the third, the Lightning weathered a late Panther power play following a tripping call on Stamkos. The stop on the Panthers power play was highlighted by a clutch save by Vasilevskiy.
The reigning Stanley Cup champs aren't backing down despite having a big upper hand in the series.
"There’s no taking a breath now. We did our job here in an environment that is tough, obviously, to win in," Stamkos added. "We did that now, but we got a couple days… let’s stay focused, let’s regroup. Let’s get some guys a little more healthy, but let’s keep the foot on the gas."
"We're two games closer to where we want to be, but we're not there yet," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "I told you this in the last series, and I'll tell you again. Tonight was just one game. We're here to win a series."
The Lightning leave Sunrise with a 2-0 series lead and return to Amalie Arena for Game 3 action Sunday.