UZYAD, Florida – Tampa Bay Lightning won the first two games of its playoff series with the Florida Panthers away last year.

They are halfway to the rematch.

Pierre-Edouard Belmar scored at the beginning of the third period, Andrei Vasilevsky remained hot with 34 saves, and “Lightning” defeated the “Panthers” 4-1 in the first game of the semifinal series of the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night.

According to Tampa Bay coach John Cooper, Vasilevsky became the main one.

“Look at the saves he makes when we need them,” Cooper said. “For me, that’s what great goalkeepers do, and they give you a chance to win a hockey game, and that’s what our guy did tonight.” “.

Nikita Kucherov and Cory Perry had on goals and assists, and Ross Colton also scored for the two-time defense of the Stanley Cup champions, who for the second season in a row came out ahead with a score of 1: 0 against their rivals in the state.

Time and time again Vasilevsky slammed the door to Florida. For the last three games – they all won, including 7 games in Toronto on Sunday – he stopped 94 of 99 shots.

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“He puts 100 percent effort into every game, and everyone is just trying to take his energy and bring it into your game,” Kucherov said. “He’s a leader … he’s our best player.”

Anthony Duckler scored a goal in Florida, which won the “Presidential Trophy”, from Sergei Bobrovsky 32 saves. Including a qualifying round that was held when the NHL recovered during the 2020 pandemic, Florida has lost seven games in a row – a series that dates back to 1997.

Game 2 – Thursday night.

“They’re too good a team, a veteran team, and they’re not going to open the door for you,” said Florida interim coach Andrew Brunet. “We had our opportunities. Until the next game. “

Duckler, who scored 31 goals, was scratched by Florida for winning the series in Washington, but he came back on Tuesday and led his team forward, scoring a pass from Jonathan Hubert at 14:01 first.

Duckler’s goal was scored after the Panthers scored a couple of early penalties – one from Mackenzie Wiegar and the other from Duckler – as special teams became a factor in the game.

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Florida went 0-0 in a series win against the Capitals and was without points in three more attempts on Tuesday. But Tampa Bay took three of the six chances.

“Part of our game plan was to stay out of the box,” Duckler said. “Their game of power was deadly.”

After Wiger caught Kucherov, he bypassed Florida defender Aaron Ekblad and fed Perry, scoring a goal in 16:22 of the second period.

Belmar’s goal was scored with a score of 3:35 in the third period, which gave Tampa Bay the first lead in the game – and Lightning held it until the end of the road. Lightning won a face-to-face battle in the Florida area, and Perry made a quick kick from the slot, which Bobrowski stopped, but the rebound splashed right into Belmar.

He beat Bobrowski in gloves and increased the score 2-1.

It turned out that for a moment Florida stopped its long drought and equalized when Duckler scored a goal in a failed puck. Tampa Bay disputed, saying the puck went out of the net and so went out of the game. A video review confirmed this, and Lightning continued to lead 2-1.

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“We knew our coaching staff immediately told us it wasn’t going to be a goal,” Duckler said. “So you turn the page and go back to it.”

But it was the last cheers for Florida. Tampa Bay undoubtedly left late, and Curly and Colton received a power play test in the 4:06 final to translate the game.

NOTES: It was Cooper’s 124th playoff game with Lightning. This broke the balance with Mike Babcock (Detroit) in fifth place with one team, behind only Al Arbor (198, New York Islanders), Scottie Bowman (134, Detroit), Joel Quenville (128, Chicago) and Glen Sutter (127) . , Edmonton). … Florida dropped to 4-8 in the first game, including the qualifying round two years ago. … Tampa Bay improved to 15-19 in Game 1.

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