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Stephen Stemkas scored two goals, and Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and three assists, and Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.
Corey Perry and Eric Chernak also scored, and current Conn Smythe Trophy owner Andrei Vasilevsky made 34 saves to help two-time Stanley Cup champions advance 3-0 over the Panthers, who had the best NHL record of the regular season. season.
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Game 4 will take place Monday night at Amalie Arena, where Lightning has won three of four games this postseason. Another victory for the sixth time in eight years will send them to the finals of the Eastern Conference.
Vasilevsky conceded just one goal in his fourth game in a row after conceding at least three in each of Tampa Bay’s first six games this postseason. He was helped in this dominant part as his teammates in front of him helped by playing in the excellent defense of the team.
Sam Reinhart scored Florida’s only goal of the 3rd game, capturing a mysterious start to the playoffs with a score of 0 to 25.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 of 34 shots, and Perry and Chernak scored just moments after Florida scored penalties in the first and second periods. One-time pass from Kucharov Stamkas made it 3-1 in the middle of the second.
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Kucherov and Stamkos added goals to the empty net in the last four minutes after the Panthers removed Bobrowski in favor of an additional striker.
Perry, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent after being part of the teams that lost to Lightning in each of the last two Stanley Cup finals, redirected Ryan McDonough’s shot past Bobrowski to bring the champion to the lead early.
The Panthers, 0-on-25 in power games in their first nine playoff games, finally broke through and tied 1: Jonathan Guberdo and Alexander Barkov set Reinhart up to win over Vasilevsky from under the goal.
In the end, Florida paid for its inability to take advantage of other opportunities.
Barkov simply did not respond to Chernak’s goal, which put “Lightning” ahead with a score of 2: 1, sending a shot from the right circle from the bar. The Panthers also nearly pulled even during a game in force in the second period, which yielded several highlights, including Huberdo’s wide-open gaze, which McDonagh threw the stick up through the net.
Florida finished 1-on-3, dropping to 1-on-28 in situations with human superiority this postseason.
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NOTES: With his 50th playoff goal in his career, Perry is ahead of Brad Marchant and Patrick Bergeron and is only sixth among active leaders in the career playoffs. … Lightning with a score of 9-0 in the series of the best of the seven in which they won the first two games, including last year’s victory in the first round over the Panthers. … Lightning C Brayden Point missed his third game in a row due to a lower body injury during Tampa Bay’s 7th game win over Toronto in the first round.