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Bolts defeat Panthers 4-1 to win Game 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning sealed the win with two goals late in the third period.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panther 4-1 in Game 1 to take an early lead in the series. 

The Bolts had four different goal scorers in the game with Nikita Kucherov, Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ross Colton helping ensure a victory for the visitors. 

It was another game in this year's NHL Playoffs for Tampa Bay where they complete a comeback after conceding the first goal of the game.

The win gives the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the series against the Panthers as they search for a third Stanley Cup in three consecutive years. 

Doing so would make the Bolts only the fourth team to reach that accomplishment, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1947-49), the Montreal Canadiens (1956-60, 1976-79) and the New York Islands (1982-1982).

Puck drop for Game 2 against Florida is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at FLA Live Arena.  

Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41), left wing Pat Maroon (14) and right wing Corey Perry (10) celebrate a goal against the Florida Panthers during the third period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Game 1 blog

3rd period

9:51 p.m.

Bolts win 4-1. End of 3rd period.

9:45 p.m.

A power play goal scored by Ross Colton puts the Bolts 4-1 in the lead! Assisted by Nicholas Paul and Mikhail Serachev.

9:39 p.m.

Nikita Kucherov furthers Tampa Bay's lead with a power play goal to make it 3-1!

9:30 p.m.

Florida's goal is ruled out! Tampa Bay remains in the lead 2-1.

9:27 p.m.

The Panthers get another goal on the scoresheet. The game is tied 2-2.

9:10 p.m.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scores to put the Lightning on top 2-1! Assisted by Corey Perry. 

9:04 p.m.

The third period is underway! Bolts tied 1-1. 

2nd period

8:45 p.m.

The second period comes to a close. Bolts head into the last period tied 1-1.

8:40 p.m.

The Bolts get back on level terms with a power play goal from Corey Perry to make it 1-1! Assisted by Nikita Kucherov.

8:05 p.m.

The second period is underway. 

1st period

Lightning 0 | Panthers 1

7:47 p.m.

End of the first period.

7:35 pm.

 Anthony Duclair scores for the Florida Panthers, assisted by Brandon Montour and Jonathan Huberdeau.

7:11 p.m.

The first period begins.

Lightning vs. Panthers

After a thrilling series against Toronto, the Lightning and their fan base do not have too much time to exhale. 

Tampa Bay now travels to Sunrise taking on the Panthers who recorded a league-best 122 points with 58 wins.

This is a rematch of last year's exciting first round tilt where the Bolts won in six games.

"There's definitely some animosity," Bolts forward Alex Killorn said. "When you play a team as much as we've played Florida -- it's not just in the playoffs. We play them so much in the season. You just build a certain amount of animosity against a team like that due to the fact you play each other so much."

The feeling is mutual.

"There's a lot of animosity with this team," Panthers forward Sam Bennett said. "The rivalry is growing and getting stronger every time we play each other."

The two teams split the season series, with one lopsided win for both squads. The Panthers beat Tampa Bay, 9-3, with Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott on the COVID-list. Three weeks ago, the Lightning beat Florida, 8-4, snapping their 13-game winning streak.

The two-time defending champions should be warmed up for the Panthers, who play in a similar fashion to Toronto. Only difference for Florida is they are a bit deeper than the Maple Leafs.

"They're both high-octane, offensive teams," Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said. "Mentalities are the same. They've got skill players. They can execute. I mean, they've scored the most goals in the league. They have multiple comebacks. They are a score-first mentality and they're good at it."

The Lightning are going to have to channel that Game 7 energy for a lot of this series if they want to beat Florida and advance to the next round of the series.

Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) lies on the ice after taking a hit along the boards during the first period of Game 7 in an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the Tampa Bat Lightning in Toronto, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Bolts also need to figure out how to survive without Brayden Point, arguably their best postseason player. Cooper said Point is 'doubtful' for Game 1 and then 'day-to-day' after that. 

'Day-to-day' in hockey terms does not give us much clarity.

The encouraging note here is Cooper did not declare Point a long-term injury, but even if he returns, will he still be the same guy?

When Brayden Point missed five weeks of the regular season, one player stepped up in particular:

Corey Perry

Perry recorded 11 of his 40 points during the 14-game stretch without Point. It is very possible Perry now slides into Point's spot on the power play unit. The veteran might also need to flex more muscle on the offensive end. The Lightning were 11-3 without Point and 5-2 against playoff teams.

The Bolts play in Sunrise on Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. on TNT. The Lightning then plays inside AMALIE Arena for a rare back-to-back because of a concert Saturday night. Sunday's game is set for 1:30 p.m. with the Monday contest at 7 p.m.

Some fans are upset about the back-to-back, but in the end, both teams have to grind through the three games in four nights.

The Lightning has also failed to lose back-to-back playoff games in 18 tries, which is good news since they are 1-4 all-time when beginning a series down 0-2.

Expect a physical battle between these two teams and it would not be surprising to see another long series.

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